Written by Netisha Currie, Archives Specialist at the National Archives in College Park.
Today is the kick off for the second annual National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair. From October 28-30 the Archives will broadcast 17 live lectures from across the nation via YouTube to inform the general public on various aspects of genealogical research. This event is free and open to all levels of genealogist – whether you are a professional or just starting to search for records about your family – all are welcome!
This year I am happy to present with my colleague Britney Crawford about FBI records that can be used in the course of genealogical research. Our talk, FBI and the FOIA: 20th Century Family Research, hopes to introduce genealogists to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) process and inform users on the potential for finding your family stories in the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case files of the FBI are of particular value to African American families because many incidents of racial violence, political protest, and social movements were captured in these files when the FBI decided to investigate the actions as possible crimes. Two of the most important classes that are pertinent to African American history are Class 44 – Civil Rights (established to investigate crimes of the Ku Klux Klan), and Class 157 – Civil Unrest (established to investigate civil disorder and demonstrations).
Through my personal research, I was able to locate and submit a FOIA request for the Class 157 file that was in my grandfather’s name. It turns out that the family story I had heard for years of my father’s childhood home being burned down by the KKK was investigated, typed up, and made a permanent government record that sits in the same building where I work! Britney and I will be sharing that story and others of curious individuals finding their family history in the FBI records at the National Archives. Our presentation will take place Thursday, October 30 at 10am, please visit the Genealogy Fair Website for direct links to the YouTube cast and a list of other presentations. Please see other presentations of note below. Hope to see you there!