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Twentieth-century U.S. society and politics

FBI Vault

Easy access to many FBI files, organized by subject. Includes digital versions of much of the microfilm listed below.

The FBI in the Cold War

Official & confidential files of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover [microform]
Microfilm 10682
6 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HV7911.H6 O334
"This file was one of two secret files Hoover maintained in his office.... [It] contains important policy documents pertaining to wiretapping, bugging, break-ins, and authorizations to investigate subversive activities. Other documents provide insights into the relationship between the FBI director and several presidents, as well as other prominent Americans. " See

FBI file on Julius and Ethel Rosenberg [microform]
Microfilm 11819
27 reels
Printed guide: none
The Rosenbergs were tried and executed as spies for the Soviet Union in 1953. See the online guide at and

Coplon vs. U.S. [the record of the trial of Judith Coplon for espionage]
Microfilm 03158
8 reels
Printed guide: none
Judith Coplon, who worked for the Dept. of Justice in the 1940's, was tried and convicted of spying for the Soviet Union. The convictions were overturned on technical grounds.

FBI file on Roy M. Cohn [microform]
Microfilm 10704
4 reels
Printed guide: KF373.C62 F34
Cohn was an anti-Communist activist and attorney. See

The Communist Party, USA and Radical Organizations, 1953-1960: FBI Reports from the Eisenhower Library
Microfilm 06842
7 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HX83 .C655 1990
"During the Eisenhower years, the FBI put a number of radical groups under surveillance. It gathered intelligence for use by selected federal offices, including the president’s, in monographs that assessed in great detail the organizations’ structures, inner workings, and beliefs. Most of the documents deal with the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) ... also includes reports on three other extremist organizations: The Nation of Islam, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Socialist Workers Party." See

The Amerasia Affair, China, and Postwar Anti-Communist Fervor Archives Unbound "The Amerasia Affair was the first of the great spy cases of the postwar era. Unlike Alger Hiss or the Rosenberg cases, it did not lead to an epic courtroom confrontation or imprisonment or execution of any of the principals. The Amerasia Affair sheds light not only on debate as to who "lost" China, Soviet espionage, McCarthyism, and the loyalty program, but also on the bureaucratic intricacies of anti-communism in Washington."

FBI file on Joseph McCarthy [microform]
Microfilm 10685
4 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms E748.M143 F343
See above and also

FBI File on the House Committee on Un-American Activities
Microfilm 05654
9 reels
Printed guide: none
"From 1938 through 1975, the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the FBI developed a working relationship that both increased the power of the committee and gave the bureau another means of investigating suspected Communists. This file ... contains hundreds of reports centered on HUAC’s major investigations"

COINTELPRO: the Counterintelligence Program of the FBI
RECAP Microfilm 05649
30 reels
Printed guide: none
"The FBI Counterintelligence Program file contains details of the bureau’s attempts to “expose, disrupt, and neutralize” groups that J. Edgar Hoover perceived as threatening to national security. The material in this file, spanning COINTELPRO’s existence from 1956 to 1971, is especially valuable for the view it offers of the U.S. political climate in the 1960s. The file is organized in sections that reflect the bureau’s interests, among them the Communist Party of the USA, Black nationalist “hate” groups, White “hate” groups, the Socialist Workers Party, and Cuban groups supporting Fidel Castro."

FBI files: counterculture and radical groups

FBI Confidential Files and Radicalism in the U.S., 1945-1972  HistoryVault

Records from the FBI and the Subversive Activities Control Board. Under the leadership of the infamous J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI vigorously investigated and tracked the activities of Communist groups, Communist-front groups, and other radical organizations in the United States. Highlights include Hoover’s office files; documentation on the FBI’s so-called “black bag jobs,” as they were called before being renamed “surreptitious entries”; and the “Do Not File” File. Prominent subjects covered in the “Surreptitious Entries” file pertain to the Socialist Workers Party and the Weather Underground, both dating from the early 1970s. The records of the Subversive Activities Control Board (SACB), an invaluable resource for the study of left-wing radicalism of the 1950s and 1960s, are also included in this module.

Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s Archives Unbound
"Organized alphabetically by organization, this collection covers a wide range of viewpoints on political, social, cultural, and economic issues. It sheds light on internal organization, personnel, and activities of some of the most prominent American radical groups and their movements to change American government and society." From the FBI records.

The Greensboro Massacre, 1979: Shootout between the American Nazis and the Communist Workers Party Archives Unbound "On November 3, 1979 a rally and march of black industrial workers and Communists was planned in Greensboro, North Carolina against the Ku Klux Klan. The "Death to the Klan March" was to begin in a predominantly black housing project called Morningside Homes. Communist organizers publicly challenged the Klan to present themselves and "face the wrath of the people". During the rally, a caravan of cars containing Klansmen and members of the American Nazi Party drove by the housing projects where the Communists and other anti-Klan activists were congregating. What then occurred is in dispute, from rock-throwing and taunts on both sides to the sound of gunfire and deaths of five protest marchers. This collection of FBI, local and state police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, shed new light on the motivations of the Communist organizers, the shootings, subsequent investigations, and efforts to heal the Greensboro community."

The Minutemen, 1963-1969: Evolution of the Militia Movement in America, Part I Archives Unbound "The Minutemen was a militant anti-Communist organization formed in the early 1960s. The founder and head of the right-wing group was Robert Bolivar DePugh, a veterinary medicine entrepreneur from Norborne, Missouri. The Minutemen believed that Communism would soon take over all of America. The group armed themselves, and was preparing to take back the country from the "subversives." The Minutemen organized themselves into small cells and stockpiled weapons for an anticipated counter-revolution."

FBI File on the Students for a Democratic Society and the Weatherman Underground
Microfilm 07330
8 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HN90.R3 F34
"This is one of the few collections on Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and its spin-off, the Weatherman Underground Organization, between 1962 and 1977. Strong in descriptions of antiwar rallies and SDS-produced materials, the file is particularly useful for its detailed coverage of the SDS-led protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago."

FBI file, Abbie Hoffman [microform]
Microfilm 10684
8 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HN90.R3 F243
Hoffman was an activist and a key figure in the counterculture movement. See

FBI file on the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) [microform]
2 microfilm reels

FBI files on anti-war organizations

America in Protest: Records of Anti-Vietnam War Organizations, The Vietnam Veterans Against the War Archives Unbound
Partly duplicates Microfilm 12393. "The Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) started in 1967 with six Vietnam veterans marching for peace in New York City. The purpose of the organization was to give voice to the returning servicemen who opposed the on-going war in Southeast Asia. From six soldiers in 1967, the ranks of the membership eventually grew to over 30,000. This publication consists of FBI reports dealing with every aspect of antiwar work carried out by the VVAW. The collection also includes surveillance on a variety of other antiwar groups and individuals, with an emphasis on student groups and Communist organizations."

FBI file on POWs/MIAs in Southeast Asia
Microfilm 10706
7 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms DS559.4 .F34
See the online guide at

FBI files on African-Americans

FBI files on Native American organizations

The American Indian Movement and Native American Radicalism Archives Unbound
"Formed in 1968, the American Indian Movement (AIM) expanded from its roots in Minnesota and broadened its political agenda to include a searching analysis of the nature of social injustice in America. These FBI files provide detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest and the development of Native American radicalism."

FBI files on the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee History Vault
Duplicates materials in Microfilm 11657
"The FBI Files on the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee provides detailed information on the evolution of AIM as an organization of social protest, on the occupation of Wounded Knee, and on the activities of the FBI in response to the growing strength of the AIM movement." Covers 1969-1977. See 2141_FBIAmIndMovWoKnee.pdf

FBI files on labor organizations

FBI file on Cesar Chavez and United Farm Workers [microform]
Microfilm 11870
2 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HD6509.C48 F25 1996
Materials from the FBI file on Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers and activist for social justice for Mexican-American immigrants and migrant workers. This material is also available in a digital edition at For a brief biography of Chavez, see

FBI file on John L. Lewis [microform]
Microfilm 11817
2 reels
Printed guide: Firestone Microforms HD6509.L4 F24
Materials from the FBI file on John L. Lewis, labor organizer and president of the United Mine Workers of America from 1920-1960. For a brief biography of Lewis, see

FBI files: miscellaneous

The Mafia in Florida and Cuba: FBI Surveillance of Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante, Jr Archives Unbound "This collection comprises materials on Santo Trafficante, Jr., Meyer Lansky, and Lucky Luciano, including FBI surveillance and informant reports and correspondence from a variety of offices including, Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville, New York City, New Orleans, Atlanta, New Haven, New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago; Justice Department memoranda, correspondence, and analyses; Newsclippings and articles; Domestic Intelligence Section reports; Transcriptions of wiretaps, typewriter tapes, and coded messages; Memoranda of conversations."

FBI file [microform]: Waco.
18 microfilm reels
Firestone Microforms Services (Film) MICROFILM 11882

FBI file on Eleanor Roosevelt [microform].
3 reels of microfilm
Firestone Microforms Services (Film) MICROFILM 10567

FBI file on the American churchwomen killed in El Salvador, December 2, 1980 [microform].
2 microfilm reels
Firestone Microforms Services (Film) MICROFILM 06992

Watergate FBI investigation file [microform].
9 microfilm reels
Firestone Microforms Services (Film) MICROFILM 10683