NYC sued by archivist over release of historical records

She’s on her biggest paper chase yet.

An archival activist who’s long been a thorn in the side of New York bureaucrats says an attempted cash grab by the city sparked her bid to get millions of its historical records — so she can put them online, for free, “forever,” according to a lawsuit.

Brooke Schreier Ganz’s nonprofit, Reclaim the Records, has already put online more than 30 million public documents since 2015, including searchable indexes listing old births, deaths and marriages. The group targets records it says are “wrongly restricted” by local governments.

A New York native who lives in California, Ganz and Reclaim the Records have already beaten the city in court three times as it fights for records.

Brooke Schreier Ganz and Reclaim the Records have already beaten New York City in court three times over records issues.
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The fed-up group filed its largest Freedom of Information request yet in October 2020, after the Municipal Archives proposed new restrictions and new fees on how the public could use the city’s historical records, none of which are restricted by copyright and “some of which predate the founding of the United States,” Ganz said.

“No one else is trying to make a buck off historical records like New York has,” Ganz told The Post.

Since then, Ganz and Reclaim the Records have sought copies of all historical records the city has already digitized, which could amount to about 8 million documents, genealogist Alec Ferretti said.

“And we are going to put them all online for free public use, without any restrictions, costs, paywalls, subscriptions, or copyrights,” the group says on its web site.

The Municipal Archive has used permission to publish and license agreements “for decades,” spokesman Ken Cobb said in a statement, calling it a “common practice among libraries and archives” and noting “millions of images are available to the public in our online gallery; all can be downloaded at no cost.”