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Unlocking the Files of the FBI: A Guide to Its Records and Classification System [Hardcover]

by David A. Langbart, Gerald K. Haines
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

January 1, 1993 0842023380 978-0842023382
This volume is the first comprehensive guide to the records of the FBI. At last historians have clear descriptions of the FBI's documents and how to gain access to them.

Dr. Gerald Haines, who was a member of the National Archives FBI Task Force, and Mr. David Langbart describe the contents of each of the 278 classifications the bureau uses to organize its records. They detail how much material exists, its history, where it is housed, plans for its ultimate disposition, and how one can gain access.

The volume includes descriptions of unclassified records; lists of abbreviations used on FBI documents; a full explanation of the FOIA with a sample letter requesting access; organizational charts; and other useful information. This book's combination of practical advice and archival surveys will enable researchers to exploit fully this largely untapped collection of U.S. government records.

Editorial Reviews Review

While the Freedom of Information Act allows considerable access to FBI files, anyone who wishes to access those files--scholar, journalist or interested citizen--must go fishing in the dark, unless the researcher knows precisely what sort of information is in the different files, where to look and what to request. This book provides the necessary guidance, including an overview of FBI classifications, a profile of each category, descriptions of some of the cases and the current location of each set of records. Haines and Langbart have both worked for the National Archives, Haines specifically on FBI records, and they have a wealth of expertise on how these particular records are filed.


An information heist. . . . Haines and Langbart have added value . . . by pointing out the research potential of the records. . . . Any reader or student interested in what the FBI does will treasure this guide. (Ala Booklist/Reference Books Bulletin)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0842023380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0842023382
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,951,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars While not entertaining... very useful June 11, 2000
By A Customer
Hm... This book was nearly as boring as the files you will want to read. Granted, the material that you will need this book for is not light, I feel that almost any subject can be treated with wit. Unlocking of the Files of the FBI wasn't. But, having said that, if you really have to (or want to [you masochist! :-] ) this book is essential.
Almost anything can be funny, if taken in the right context, the Files (capital there) especially so. While this book doesnt and shouldnt highlight this, one still gets phrases such as "telecommunicating" instead of "phoning", etc. That can become pretty amusing beurocratese to slog through.
On the whole, the author does an excellent job of explaining in simple terms how to wade through, and understand what is being said, giving tid bits such as delete and black-out codes (when the FBI blacks out paragraphs or entire pages in order to protect living relatives, informants, agents, etc. they put a code as to why they blacked it out e.g. b7D, where b7 means "compiled for law enforcement purposes if certain enumerated adverse conditions could be reasonably expected to result from disclosure of the information." and the D is referring to an informant)
Another good book of the genre is "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been in the FBI Files?: How to Secure and Interpret Your FBI Files" by Ann Mari Buitrago, ISBN&ASIN = 0394176472
have fun. good luck.
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