Press/Journalists
Press Release
October 2, 1998
Tuskegee Syphilis Study and FDR Transcripts of Conversations Among New Materials Added to the National Archives Web Site College Park, MD. . . More than 6,000 new images of historic documents and photographs were recently added to the National Archives and Records Administrationís (NARA) web site as part of its ongoing Electronic Access Project. This new material which reflects the scope of the NARA holdings, nationwide, includes approximately 1,000 photographs of Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Bush; transcripts of conversations from the Franklin Roosevelt White House; administrative records of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study; materials relating to aviation experiments conducted by Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina; and fugitive slave case files.

Transcripts of White House office conversations, 1940, were made from "secret" wire recordings during President Rooseveltís third term campaign. Conversations include comments about Sam Rayburn, Cordell Hull, Wendell Wilkie, Steve Early, A. Philip Randolph, Japan, and segregation in the U.S. Navy. These transcripts are at the Franklin Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, NY.

Thirty-nine multi-page documents have been digitized from the Selected Criminal Records, Case Files, 1791-1883 These case files relate to individuals indicted for treason in the Christiana Riot in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which concerned fugitive slaves and obstruction of justice. Historians maintain that the events chronicled in these files foretold the onset of the Civil War. These records are held by NARA's Mid Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, PA.

The Tuskegee Syphilis Study documents available on-line are samples of records at the Southeast Region documenting the administrative history of the Study. (Records revealing the identity of participants in the study are restricted.) The inquiry began in 1929 as a cooperative study involving the Public Health Service, the Julius Rosenwald Fund, and state and local health departments in six Southern states. It evolved into an investigation of possible differences in the effects of the disease in Caucasian and African-Americans. During the Study, a number of Negroes in Tuskegee (Macon County), Alabama, were purposely left untreated, but were observed, studied, and compared to a control group that did not have the disease. The Study continued until the 1970's when its existence was made known publicly, resulting in Department of Health Education and Welfare and Congressional hearings on the ethics of medical experiments on human subjects.

A two-page summary of the medical histories of a number of the participants, both living patients who were examined in 1968 and deceased patients who had been autopsied by that time, is among the materials recently digitized. The histories detail the effects of the disease on these patients. Other records on the Web include a statistical table summarizing this data and minutes of a Health, Education and Welfare ad hoc committee meeting in 1968, convened to discuss whether the Study should be terminated.

More than 373,900 descriptions and 83,000 digitized items are currently in NAIL (NARA ARCHIVAL INFORMATION LOCATOR). By mid-1999, approximately 120,000 items will be digitized and available electronically. The Electronic Access Project will enable anyone, anywhere, with a computer connected to the Internet to search descriptions of NARA's nationwide holdings and view digital copies of many important documents. The project is funded by the U.S. Congress with the support of Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska.

Other highlights of the recently added materials include:

  • Narrative reports of individual civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camps, 1935-1938;
  • Cherokee Indian Agency correspondence files, 1914-1916;
  • Selected images relating to civil defense and nuclear energy, explosions, and testing, 1925-1964;
  • Selected documents relating to Project Mercury;
  • Enemy alien registration affidavits, 1917-1921.

Visit the "Recently Added Data" page for additional information on new information posted on this site.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.

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