Last April, we launched a complete overhaul of our FBI Records/Freedom of Information and Privacy Act website, including a new electronic form for submitting requests.
Now, we are announcing a revamping of our electronic reading room—renamed “The Vault”—which contains more than two thousand documents that have been scanned from paper into digital copies so you can read them in the comfort of your own home or office.
Included here are more than 25 new files that have been released to the public but never added to this website; dozens of records previously posted on our site but removed as requests diminished over time; and files carried over from our previous electronic reading room.
The Vault includes several new tools and resources for your convenience:
- 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 many different category lists that can be found in the menu on the right side of the page.
- 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 corner 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. Right: (Our file reader enables you to view one or two pages at a time, search for key words, shrink or enlarge text size, and more.)
- 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 have been improved as well.
- Requesting a status update: Use our new Check the Status of Your Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (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.
“The new website significantly increases the number of available FBI files, enhances the speed at which the files can be accessed, and contains a robust search capability,” says David Hardy, chief of the Record/Information Dissemination Section in our Records Management Division. “It reflects a strong commitment to build public trust and confidence through greater public access to FBI records.”
We’ll be adding more files to the Vault each month, so check back often.
And, as always, if you have questions about requesting FBI records or related issues, call our Freedom of Information Act Requestor Service Center at (540) 868-1535 to hear helpful recorded information, or contact our Record/Information Dissemination Section.