JGSWS meets on the second Monday of each month, from September through June. Doors open at 6:30 PM unless noted otherwise. Our meeting location, since September 2013, is the LDS Factoria Building, 4200 124th Ave SE, Bellevue, WA 98006 (in Factoria, just off I-90 and I-405). Occasional meetings will be held at the JCC on Mercer Island. Admission is free.

NEXT MEETING: Monday, January 8, 2018
at the LDS Factoria Building

  • Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for all to enjoy the extensive JGSWS Library's genealogical resources!
  • Free Wi-Fi available. Come early to network with other attendees.
  • Free admission and refreshments provided.
  • Presentation starts promptly at 7:15 PM.

 JGSWS proudly presents:

"Reclaim The Records: Genealogy Fought the Law and Won"
(How to Use State Freedom of Information Laws for Genealogy),

presented by Brooke Schreier Ganz


Tired of being told by state and local archives and government agencies that your family's genealogical records are "unavailable" to the public or only available if you visit them onsite? We were too, so we figured out what to do about it. We're Reclaim The Records, a new activist group that filed a first-of-its-kind Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) legal petition in the Supreme Court of New York against the NYC Municipal Archives in order to access to twentieth century genealogical records... and won! We also secured the first-ever public release of the indices to hundreds of thousands of vital records from the New Jersey State Archives. And we're filing many more requests against city and state agencies, large and small. This presentation will tell the story behind these cases, walk through the legal basics of FOIL, and teach genealogists how to file their own FOIL requests for their own records.



Brooke Schreier Ganz is the founder of Reclaim The Records, a not-for-profit activist group that uses state Freedom of Information requests to return genealogical records to the public. As the former Vice President of Gesher Galicia, she designed and built their website, including its innovative "All Galicia Database." The underlying search engine codebase, named "LeafSeek," was released by Brooke as a free open source project, for which she won second place in the 2012 RootsTech Developer Challenge. She further refined it to build the bilingual "All Israel Database" for the Israel Genealogical Research Association (IGRA). She lives in California.

Download handouts from past meetings.

February 12: TBD
March 12: TBD


See the Events page.