Archives Unbound: Federal Surveillance of African Americans, 1920-1984

Archives Unbound: Federal Surveillance of African Americans, 1920-1984

Federal Surveillance of African Americans, 1920-1984 is a collection of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation)'s previously classified files on prominent African Americans and African-American organizations. The files include a variety of materials, such as newspaper clippings, transcripts of public meetings and speeches, reports on private meetings infiltrated by the FBI, and reports of special agents, which sometimes refer to information provided by confidential informants.

Subjects of the investigations include Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Reverend Jesse Jackson, W.E.B. Du Bois, the NAACP, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panther Party, the Highlander Folk School, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and more. The collection also includes FBI files on murders committed by the Ku Klux Klan, including the murders of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Earl Chaney (the Mississippi Burning murders), Lemuel Penn, and Viola Liuzzo.  

This collection can be cross-searched with another Archives Unbound collection, Federal Response to Radicalism in the 1960s. Use the search box in the site header to cross-search these collections.

Dates covered


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