Follow This Blog: RSS feed
Neverending Search
Inside Neverending Search

The FBI opens its Vault

Holy primary sources!  Make sure you add this one to your history and primary source pathfinders!

The FBI recently launched The Vault, its

new electronic reading room, containing more than 3,000 documents that have been scanned from paper into digital copies so you can read them in the comfort of your home or office.

New files will be added to The Vault on a regular basis.  The FBI’s note/disclaimer–

the content of the files in the Vault encompasses all time periods of Bureau history and do not always reflect the current views, policies, and priorities of the FBI

suggests all the intriguing possibilities for historical analysis in this archive!

The Vault’s categories include topics of study that span our curricula (and I’ll bet yours too!)
Administrative Policy Procedures
– Anti-War
– Bureau Personnel
– Civil Rights
– Counterterrorism
– Foreign Counterintelligence
– Fugitives
– Gangs Extremist Groups
– Gangster Era
– Hot Topics
– Miscellaneous
– Organizations
– Organized Crime
– Political Figures Events
– Popular Culture
– Public Corruption
– Supreme Court
– Unexplained Phenomenon
– World War II
– Violent Crime

The site generously offers the following finding strategies

  • Searching for Topics: You can browse or search for specific topics or persons (like Al Capone or Marilyn Monroe) by viewing our alphabetical listing, by using the search tool in the upper right of this site, or by checking the different category lists that can be found in the menu on the right side of this page. In the search results, click on the folder to see all of the files for that particular topic.
  • Searching for Key Words: Thanks to new technology we have developed, you can now search for key words or phrases within some individual files. You can search across all of our electronic files by using the search tool in the upper right of this site, or you can search for key words within a specific document by typing in terms in the search box in the upper right hand of the file after it has been opened and loaded. Note: since many of the files include handwritten notes or are not always in optimal condition due to age, this search feature does not always work perfectly.
  • Viewing the Files: We are now using an open source web document viewer, so you no longer need your own file software to view our records. When you click on a file, it loads in a reader that enables you to view one or two pages at a time, search for key words, shrink or enlarge the size of the text, use different scroll features, and more. In many cases, the quality and clarity of the individual files has also been improved.
  • Requesting a Status Update: Use our new Check the Status of Your FOI/PA Request tool to determine where your request stands in our process. Status information is updated weekly. Note: You need your FOI/PA request number to use this feature.

Share this one with high school teachers and students today!

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza


  1. […] research and wishing that you could scour the archives of the FBI for primary sources? Now you can! The FBI launched The Vault – their new electronic reading room giving you access to more than 3,000 scanned documents. […]

Speak Your Mind