Grandma for Sale: A Cautionary Tale

A certain genealogist and  blogger (no names, please, but her initials are s.h.e.r.i.f.e.n.l.e.y.) a few months ago had an interesting proposition: she had a chance to sell her grandmother!  What would you have done? Here’s the tale: Sher, I mean, s.h.e.r.i., had some time ago written a post about her grandmother, Maryellen Harris Skillman, who as a young woman was …Continue reading →


Let the Sunshine In!

One of Several Posts about Open Government Laws and GenealogyTim Agazio at Genealogy Reviews Online blogs today about his experiences with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). That reminded me that this week (March 16-22) is Sunshine Week. Sunshine Week is a project of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, with many other participants. It is “national initiative to open …Continue reading →


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 →


Privacy, Public Records, and Genealogy

The beginning of a new year typically brings the effective date of new laws in many states. In the current era, many of these laws are intended to address privacy, identity theft, and security issues. Nobody will be surprised that on such important issues, legislators sometimes overreact. On the other hand, there are sometimes unintended consequences of well-intended laws. This …Continue reading →

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