If you have been denied a copy of a record from a county clerk, you DO have recourse, unless the requested record is specifically covered under the Personal Privacy Protection Law.
Certain sections in the Freedom of Information Law, often called the FOI Law, apply to researchers seeking records from county governments in New York State. The Freedom of Information of Law is contained in the Public Officers Law, Laws 1909, Chap. 51. To view the actual law, click here. Sections that pertain to genealogical requests are in italics.
To facilitate requests to county governments, we include here two sample letters provided by the Committee on Open Government: A Sample Request Letter, and a Sample Appeal Letter. Although we as genealogists are not required to submit a Freedom of Information request, using the included letter when requesting information will negate any excuses county employees may concoct to deny our requests. They are required by law to comply with our requests or give a valid reason for denial. I strongly urge you to use these letters. If your request is still denied, you are requested to contact The Committee for Open Government at the following address:
I hope that you will keep me informed of your successes or failures in your attempts to obtain the records of your ancestors through the provisions of the FOI Law.
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