Footnote.com is providing FREE access to one of the most overlooked collections of genealogical-valuable records that the U.S. government possesses. The Bureau of Investigation records have never before been available online. In fact, many experienced genealogists have never heard of these records.
Millions of residents were investigated by the government from 1908 to 1922 and extensive dossiers were written. The reports often included full name; place and date of birth; names of parents, spouses, children, and siblings; occupation; date of immigration (if applicable); political and religious affiliations; and more. If you haven't looked at the Bureau of Investigation case files, you may have overlooked one of the richest resources available for the years 1908 through 1922.
The following is an announcement written by Footnote.com although I also added my own comments at the end:
In Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the FBI, Footnote.com Opens Its FBI Collection Featuring over 2 Million Original Records
Lindon, UT July 23, 2008 – Espionage, bootlegging, war crimes, illegal aliens, and political wrongdoing.
While this may sound like the latest Hollywood blockbuster it’s actually a review of some of the investigations the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has carried out over its 100 year history.
In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the FBI, Footnote.com announced their entire collection of FBI Case Files will be freely accessible by the public through the end of August. The collection contains over two million records featuring some very surprising hidden stories.
A few examples include, J. Edgar Hoover opening an investigation into actor Charlie Chaplin for allegedly making a contribution of $100,000 for socialist propaganda. Baseball great Babe Ruth was investigated for draft dodging and newspaper mogul William Randolph Hurst was investigated for suspicion of funding the Mexican-American War.
The FBI Case Files date from 1908 to 1922 and feature cases involving espionage during WWI, investigations into German aliens who were politically suspect, reports of violations of prohibition and more. Serious, as well as far-fetched, accounts provide a fresh insider’s perspective to the history of this time period.
“Original documents are not only interesting but also provide a way to verify historical facts that may have been previously considered conspiracy theories,” says Russ Wilding, CEO of Footnote.com. “It’s important to have records like these available so people can understand and appreciate our nation’s history as well as the circumstances that lead to the actions taken..”
Through their partnership with the National Archives, Footnote.com has digitized and indexed over 41 million original records; the majority of which have never been seen on the Internet before. Footnote.com continues to add millions of new documents to the site every month.
With easy to use tools and a social component to the site, Footnote.com is changing the way people access and interact with history. “We’re more than just an online repository of historical records,” continues Wilding. “We’re an outlet where people can go to add their own viewpoints on history and to share their own insights and discoveries.”
Footnote.com also enables people to upload their own shoeboxes of photos, letters and other documents - adding to the ever-changing face of history.
Visit Footnote.com today to view the FBI Case Files and the millions of additional historical records.
Footnote.com is a history website where real history might just surprise you. Footnote.com features millions of searchable original documents, providing users with an unaltered view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At Footnote.com, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit www.footnote.com.
COMMENTS BY DICK EASTMAN
The Bureau of Investigation is the name of the original investigative branch of the Federal government. It was later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and was then managed for many years by J. Edgar Hoover. The Bureau of Investigation was the name of the agency in the years before Hoover.
The Bureau investigated all sorts of things. It was not strictly a crime-fighting organization. For most of its lifetime, it focused on potential political enemies and almost anyone who possibly had un-American ideas. From 1909 to 1921, the Bureau of Investigation spent thousands of hours investigating and recording the lives of almost anyone of German ancestry. If your ancestor had a German-sounding name, there is a good chance that he or she was investigated and that detailed information was compiled. If so, that information can now be found in the Bureau of Investigation case files.
You might also note that the investigators were rather liberal with the phrase "German sounding" names; they often investigated people whose surnames were Dutch or Danish or Swedish or Polish or from any of a number of East European countries.
The investigations were not limited to Germanic surnames, however. Many native-born Americans were also investigated, including William Randolph Hearst, Babe Ruth, and many other Americans. Many Mexicans were also investigated, apparently because of the Mexican Revolution of those years. Immigrants from non-Germanic countries were also sometimes investigated, such as the reference to Charlie Chaplin in the announcement. (Chaplin was born and raised in England.)
The Bureau of Investigation documented the lives of most anyone who possibly could have been slightly anti-American. If the mailman or a co-worker or a schoolteacher said, "I'm not sure about Max…", investigators would compile an extensive dossier on Max. Contents usually included his or her date and place of birth, names of all living relatives (and occasionally deceased relatives as well), all acquaintances that looked "interesting," occupation, social organizations that the person had joined, political views, religion, and much more.
Some celebrities were investigated, but the overwhelming majority of Bureau of Investigation case files are about every-day private citizens. Most were working folks, just like the majority of our ancestors.
One record I found is for Carl Eastman who was first mentioned in an "anonymous letter" which generated an investigation. He was accused of the "crime" of taking blueprints home from the shipyard where he worked so that he could study them on his own time. Carl Eastman was a native-born American although his father was from Germany.
The 3-page Bureau of Investigation report written in 1917 starts with, "He lives at 1204 Francis Avenue, [Portland, Oregon]; born Lagrange, Illinois, January 2, 1896; he is registered. His father is Gustave Eastman, a music teacher, born in Germany, living in Portland, Oregon; the mother is Marie Austerburg, a music teacher born in Olenburg, Germany. He has aunts and uncles in Germany at the present time. He has a sister Ruth, seventeen months older than himself, and worked for Miss Allen. They have been in Portland since 1901." The report goes on for three pages describing 21-year-old Carl Eastman's political views, his friends, the club he belonged to, and more. The investigator(s) obviously interviewed friends and relatives of the young man.
The investigator(s) then interviewed the German-born father, Gustave, and gave similar detailed information about him. The investigator ended his report of the father by writing, "I do not doubt but what the old gentleman is somewhat in sympathy with the German cause but is too old to be of any danger to the government."
I think the Bureau of Investigation gives far more detail about these men than I could ever find in vital records! You may find similar information about people you are interested in. The amount of personal information available in the Bureau of Investigation records is amazing.
A SEARCH SUGGESTION
Now I can offer a bit of advice about searching the Bureau of Investigation records. Like most other records on Footnote.com, the names of the primary individuals have been indexed and you can find them by searching for first name and last name. For instance, in the above example concerning Carl Eastman, you can find him by specifying a search of "First name = Carl" and "Last name = Eastman." However, the text of the report was not indexed by any human being. You will not find his mother by specifying "First name = Marie" and "Last name = Austerburg." After all, she was not the subject of the report, her name was not listed in the report title, and therefore she wasn't indexed manually.
HOWEVER, every single word in the body of each report was indexed by a computer using OCR (optical character recognition). You can find her if you specify the correct search parameters. However, the computer had no way of knowing that Marie was a first name and that Austerburg was a last name. The computer simply sees those as words, the same as "Portland" or "shipyard" or "teacher."
The trick here is to search for the words "Marie" and "Austerburg" as keywords in Footnote.com's new search, not as a first or last name. You know and I know that "Marie" is a first name and that "Austerburg" is a last name but the computer didn't know that when creating the index.
These words were treated as text in the body of the report, not as specific names. The search for keywords should find all occurrences of the name "Marie" and the name "Austerburg," indexed as text in the body of a report.
Enjoy the Bureau of Investigation reports at http://www.footnote.com. If you make a new discovery, you might post a report about it at the end of this article in the COMMENTS section.