Los Angeles County Record Request Requirements–Just Quirky? Or Unconstitutional?

I was alerted to this issue by a commenter on the Find-A-Grave California Discussion Forum. If you go in person to the main office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder in Norwalk, California, and ask to view their birth, death, or marriage records, you will be required to sign a form similar to the one below (the example is for …Continue reading →


QwikTip: Finding Your Ne’er-Do-Well Ancestors and Relatives

Here’s  a quick way and inexpensive way  that you  might find out about your felonious ancestors and relatives: 1.  Go to Google Books, and type in “State  v. [name]” and see what comes up.  Try these variations: For some states, type in “People versus [name]” For Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia, “Commonwealth v. [name]” For British, old Canadian, and old Australian …Continue reading →


Coming This Sunday: Appealing Subjects

This Sunday at Shades of the Departed, a new weekend column called Appealing Subjects debuts.  And it’s written by me! I’m honored to be one of the four Weekend with Shades columnists.  The others are Terry Thornton, George Geder, and Jasia. In Appealing Subjects, we’ll explore the strange and wonderful relationship between photography and law. We’ll consider issues such as …Continue reading →


California Crackdown on Genetic Genealogy?

This story has been reported elsewhere in the geneablogosphere, notably by Lee Drew (where I first saw it) and by Dick Eastman. But it is of continuing interest. Apparently, the California Department of Public health has decided to call a halt to the marketing of genetic tests directly to consumers. Companies such as Navigenics, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, and deCODEme, …Continue reading →


A Most Unique Law Lesson

For this lesson, you have to visit my friend the footnoteMaven. Enjoy!


Genealogy Law Quiz Answers

The fall semester will be over soon at Pacific McGeorge School of Law, so I thought I’d practice for the grading season with the quiz that appeared here a couple of days ago. BTW, every one who tried it got a passing grade. Here’s the “model answer”: Copyright Infringement The first claim against Delia is Al and Bert’s action for …Continue reading →


Law and Genealogy–A Quiz

One afternoon, Delia, a family historian, decided to rummage around her uncle Al’s attic. She came across a locked trunk that she recognized as having belonged to her grandmother. Delia asked Al if she could see what was in the trunk. Al, knowing of his favorite niece’s obsession with genealogy, said, “Sure. Help yourself to anything in it.” Al, the …Continue reading →


More Genealogical Law: Invasion of Privacy

We’ve talked about defamation, but a far more serious issue for genealogists is “invasion of privacy.” The law generally recognizes four distinct “wrongs” that may constitute “invasion of privacy:” (1) intrusion into private matters; (2) public disclosure of private facts; (3) publicity placing a person in a false light; (4) misappropriation of a person’s name or likeness. Each of these …Continue reading →


Avoid Defamation

Defamation in genealogical publishing is not a tremendous problem for several reasons. First, the law does not recognize defamation of dead people. This fact is combined with the practice of most genealogists not publish information about living people without permission of those people. The third fact is that things thought defamatory in the past are, for cultural reasons, no longer …Continue reading →


Another Law Lesson: A Most Excellent Question

I had intended Thursday’s post to focus on avoiding defamation in genealogy. But then I saw this comment from Chris Dunham: What are your thoughts on that John Dillinger story I blogged about a few months ago? Which uses of Dillinger’s name can be controlled by his relatives, and which fall under the “dead people cannot be defamed” rule? A …Continue reading →

August 2015
« Jan