HIST 7B : COINTELPRO Papers

The COINTELPRO Collection

COINTELPRO was the Counter Intelligence Program run by the FBI and aimed at surveiling, discrediting & disrupting domestic political organizations/individuals deemed threatening, between 1956 and 1971. The Library has two sets of COINTELPRO collection microfilm, containing FBI files from that program.

  • First set is the more complete and includes 30 reels on such topics as white hate groups, black nationalist groups, the Socialist Workers Party, and the New Left. 
    • shelved in Newspapers/Microforms room ( MICROFILM.18097.JK )
    • does NOT have an index (partial index is available on the Internet, independently produced)
    • reels are labeled with the topics included on each roll:
      • Reels 1-17. Communist Party of the U.S. (File 100 - 3-104)
      • Reel 17. Hoodwink (File 100-446533).
      • Reels 18-20. White hate groups (File 157-9).
      • Reels 21-24. Black nationalist hate groups (File 100-448006).
      • Reels 25-28. New Left (File 100-449698)
      • Reel 28. Socialist Workers Party (File 100-436291)
      • Reel 29. Nationalist groups (Files 105-190209, 100-434445, 105-99938, 105-93124)
      • Reel 30. Special operations (File 105-174254) and Espionage (File 65-69260)
    • OskiCat record for this collection
  • Second set is limited only to the documents concerning black nationalist groups (8 reels).
    • MICROFILM 78807
    • As far as library staff know, this material duplicates that included in the first set
      (as regards black nationalist groups)
    • printed index to the contents of this set (shelved in the Newpapers/Microforms room, MICROFILM 78807 guide).  note:  this is a big bonus
    • OskiCat record for this collection

To find the location of these sets, or the location of the printed guide, ask a News/Micro staff member.

COINTELPRO use tips

On the first reel of this collection is a publisher's note that is helpful in understanding the nature of the collection: this "material was reseased by the Federal Bureau of  Investigation...under the provision of the Freedom of Information Act".  Files have been produced "in the exact order in which they were received by the FBI".   It goes on to state that this sometimes equates to "no discernable order". In other words, this collection is the content of the files as they were produced to those requesting their access. 

Since there is no index for much of the COINTELPRO collection, you will need to browse through the reels to identify files of interest.  A couple things might help...

  • the reels in the first set are broadly labelled as to group's they target
  • the first set of the collection has no index (but there is a partial, independently produced, index online that may prove useful)
  • if you focus on black nationalist groups and use the second set of microform, it has an index to that microform collection (see collection description above)
  • if you find you need more background on the historical time period or parties involved, see the Background tab for suggestions

Newspapers and Microforms Collection

When the library location in the OskiCat catalog indicates "Newspapers and Microforms" it is referring to the Newspapers and Microforms Collection, 40 Doe Library.

Doe Library

To get there, enter from the north entrance of Doe Library (the side facing Memorial Glade). Walk straight ahead until you reach the marble stairs; do NOT take the stairs, but instead turn right and go down the hall until you see stairs to the basement (alternatively, there is an elevator around the corner for those stairs). Once you go down the stairs, the entrance to the Newspapers and Microforms collection should be directly in front of you.

Floor plan of Doe Library, 1st floor | Floor plan of Doe Library basement

The collection's hours are 10-7 M-Th, 10-5 Fridays. It is not open on weekends (and the CONITELPRO microfilm cannot be checked out). There are a limited number of machines for viewing the collection -- please plan ahead! Be sure to bring a flash drive so you can save scanned copies of the microfilm to your disk. Unlike scanning in most Library locations, scanning from the News/Micro machines is free.  Printing costs, however, and is 10 cents a page (use your CalNet ID for payment, details).

In the News/Micro collection, microfilm rolls and microfiche cards are shelved with their own numbering system (PDF of the collection's floorplan).

Don't hesitate to ask for help! The News/Micro staff are experts in the use of these machines.

Microfilm & Microfiche

Before digital storage became easy and cheap, microfilm was a way for libraries to maintain large collections of newspapers, government documents, and historical documents while saving physical storage space. The UC Berkeley Libraries still have extensive microform (microfilm and microfiche) collections, containing valuable information for researchers.

Since each roll of microfilm contains thousands of tiny images of the original pages of a document, you'll need a microfilm reader to magnify the images enough to read them. The UC Berkeley Newspapers and Microforms Department (40 Doe Library) has machines that read, print, and scan images from microfilm and microfiche.

Microfilm and microfiche owned by the UC Berkeley Libraries can be found through the OskiCat catalog; use its Advanced Keyword search to limit to "All Microforms." In the Library's News/Micro collection, microfilm rolls and microfiche cards are shelved with their own numbering system (PDF of collection's floorplan).

How to Scan Microfilm

Note: if you want to save to a flash (USB) drive, make sure you have one before you start!
They are not sold in News/Micro; however, you can buy one at the Moffitt Copy Center (Moffitt Library, as you enter the library on your right -- hours | 510-643-7427).

1. Turn power on in this sequence:

  • Microfilm reader
  • PC and monitor

2. Load microfilm/microfiche into the reader.

3. Locate the frame to scan, and center it on the outlined frame on the reader screen.

4. Details for printing or scanning from these machines.

Last Update: May 30, 2012 10:54