HIST 7B : COINTELPRO Papers

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  • Tim Dilworth
  • Office Location: 212 Doe Library
  • Contact Info:

    642-3217

About this Guide

Guide for J. Morton's History 7B section.

This guide has been archived

Please note: this course guide was created during a previous semester and is no longer being actively maintained. For a list of current course guides visit http://lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guides.

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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.

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...

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:

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.

Doe Reference Collection | encyclopedias

Doe Library has the campus' major reference collection for the arts, humanities & social sciences. The Doe Reference Service is located on the second floor of the library and has a staffed desk to help navigate the collection (hours, info.).

If you need general information about a historical time period, encyclopedias are often a good place to get that context.

Citing sources

Properly citing sources is an important part of your research.  It allows you to avoid plagiarism and highlights your engagement with related scholarship.

In a nutshell:  "Whenever you quote or base your ideas on another person's work, you must document the source you used. Even when you do not quote directly from another work...." 

The above extract is taken from the Library's guide on citing sources. The guide gives an overview of this topic and links to formatting rules for the major citation styles.

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Citation Management Tools

Citation management tools help you manage your research, collect and cite sources, and create bibliographies in a variety of citation styles.  Each one has its strengths and weaknesses, but any are easier than doing it by hand!

  1. Zotero: A free plug-in that works exclusively with the Firefox browser: keeps copies of what you find on the web, permits tagging, notation, full text searching of your library of resources, works with Word, and has a free web backup service.
  2. RefWorks - free for UC Berkeley users. It allows you to create your own database by importing references and using them for footnotes and bibliographies. Use the RefWorks New User Form to sign up.

It's always good to double check the formatting -- sometimes the software doesn't get it quite right.

Library subject specialists

UCB has librarians specializing in certain disciplinary subjects and certain kinds of materials (for example government documents, film, etc.).  You may want to speak with one of these specialists.

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Doe & Moffitt Reference Desks

Libraries across campus have have librarians available to help.  Since the system is structured by subject, you'll want to seek help from the library specializing in your disciplinary focus.

Doe & Moffitt focus on the arts, humanities and social sciences, and, since that subject base is very broad, they also serve as general reference desks for the system.

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