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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Get Grandpa's FBI File

We nosy genealogists have long known the magic of FOIA requests, but a website called Get Grandpa's FBI File is bringing the method to the nongenealogical masses. Fill in the fields and they'll produce form letters for you to send off to the G-men in Washington and at field offices. Of course, RootsWeb SSDI does the same sort of thing for SS-5 requests.

Just understand that it might take time.

Jasia

Thanks for reminding me to send away for my grandpa's FBI file. I had this on my to-do list a few months back and then I lost my to-do list... hey, it a happens. Anyway, I've printed out my forms and am sending them off tomorrow. I can't wait to get the low down on my grandpa!

Chris

Now you've got me intrigued! Any particular reason your grandfather might have showed up on J. Edgar Hoover's radar screen?

Jasia

My grandpa was involved in an elaborate extortion plot (as the victim) back in 1930. He was sent a "black hand letter" demanding a large sum of money with the threat of dire consequences. The police (and supposedly the FBI) were involved and the story made the front page of the Detroit News back then. My mom (who was 12 years old at the time) was involved in helping to solve the crime. I'm requesting the FBI files for both my grandpa and the perpetrator. We'll see what I get back.

If I ever get around to editing and publishing my first NaNoWriMo novel you'll get to read all about it!

Chris

Wow! My family history seems lame in comparison.

ewmiller

I wonder if anyone ever, actually, gets a positive response to their inquiry? That would be an actual case file. For my part, I asked for a file about a relative who was convicted of making alcohol during Prohibition, and another who was convicted of counterfeiting $5 bills. All I've ever received from my inquiries was "a file did exist but was destroyed in 1997 per a directive from NARA okaying the destruction of such files." Of course there was no effort to save those documents electronically. That concerns me and makes me frightened for other such documents that NARA and the FBI have control of.

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