Search Hints for JFK Assassination Records Collection
- Search Hints For the Database
- Find records relating to a specific person
- Locating photographs in the Collection
Search Hints For the Database:
- You will need to make your search as specific as possible. For example, if you enter "Oswald" you will
get over 27,000 hits. If you can narrow your request by date, a specific name, and/or the agency that most likely
created the document, you will find your searches more fruitful. Use the expert search and put in as much information as you have.
- When choosing a term to use when searching the database, look at the "index" to the subject field to
be sure you have included all possible spellings. With names, you want to keep in mind that the person may be
indexed by an alias or a maiden name or by surname only. NARA had very little control over the "subject"
terms used, due to the fact that data entry was completed by the agency that had control of the document
prior to its transfer to NARA.
- When choosing a term to use when searching the database, keep in mind that the FBI often used
abbreviations in their subject term field. For example, records relating to Lee Harvey Oswald have LHO
in the subject field. See the list of FBI abbreviations.
- When searching the database, keep in mind that there are numerous copies of the same documents indexed in the database.
This is because, one agency may have created a document, but then disseminated it to numerous other organizations,
who in turn retained that copy and eventually transferred it to NARA. A good example of this is the FBI documents
found in the records of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).
The HSCA requested that the FBI send them copies of the following Headquarters case files:
62-109060, 62-109090 and 105-82555. These copies were retained by the HSCA and transferred to
NARA when the rest of the HSCA files were transferred. As a result, we have the original
FBI files transferred from the FBI (which are largely open in full) and the copies
(often heavily redacted) transferred from the HSCA.
When determining what documents you wish to have reproduced, look at the descriptions of the agency file number and other defining fields to try to eliminate getting copies of duplicate documents. It is beyond the scope of our staff responsibilities to make that determination for you.
- If you want to find a specific HSCA numbered file in the database, you need to enter the
number exactly as it was typed in the database. For example if you are conducting a
search of the agency file number and the HSCA Numbered file number is 275, you need to
enter it as 000275 in order to find it in the database.
How to find records relating to a specific person:
As always, we urge you first to explore the published Warren Commission and House Select Committee on Assassinations Reports (HSCA).
These reports are available at US Government depository libraries throughout the United States.
Find a depository library near you.
The Database is always the suggested next stop.
You want to keep in mind that the person may be indexed by an
alias or a maiden name or by surname only.
In RG 65, records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there is a series named "HSCA Subject" Files.
These are FBI files on specific individuals that were of interest to the HSCA because of the subject matter.
Although these records are captured in the database, we have also compiled a list of names you will find in these records.
Finally, explore the folder title lists for series that are not captured in the database.
Search Hint for locating photographs in the Collection:
There is no one comprehensive list of all of the photographs in the Collection. This is due to the fact that most of the
photographs reside in the textual files, not as distinct series. There are very few digitized photographic images on-line.
Most of the photographs in the Collection were printed in the Warren Commission Report first.
Your best first step is to look at the Report and it's 26 supporting volumes.
The Report is available at US Government depository libraries throughout the Country.
Find the closest depository library near you.
If you can provide us with the Commission Exhibit number as published in the report, we can send you a quote
for the cost of reproducing that image.
Another resource is the JFK Assassination Collection database. This is the best source for the
photographs that are simply scattered among textual files. If you conduct an expert search in the database,
you can go to the "document type" field and look at the index and select all derivations of the
word "photograph" to narrow your search.
The only digitized images on-line, are photographs taken by NARA of some of the most famous exhibits
and other evidence from the Warren Commission. See what is
digitized in the
Archival Research Catalog (ARC).