21 August 2014

Every Name in the World War I Era FBI Files--Not Quite

Fold3.com has had FBI investigative files from the World War I era on their site for some time. They contain information on a variety of investigations during this era, including draft violations and records of investigations into "un-American" activity.

The image included in this post is from an investigation in October of 1917 that centered on John Fecht of Varna, Illinois.

I received an email yesterday from Fold3.com notifying me of a "content update" to their site that referenced this database (titled "FBI Case Files" on Fold3.com the materials are named "Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation 1908-1922" by the National Archives are appear in their microfilm publication M1085).

There is no description of what type of index Fold3.com has to these records and I was hoping, since there was an update, that a full-name index had been created for these records.

That does not appear to be the case. The index is only to the "person of interest." In this case that is John Fecht. There are not (as of this writing) index entries for Anton Fecht and Anna Fecht who are also referenced in the investigation.

That's a shame.

There are witnesses and other individuals mentioned in these files who are not the actual people of interest and locating their records means searching for their associates and hoping to find something. While this is an excellent research strategy, a full name index would facilitate the location of records and the usage of these materials.

And it would help if the "about" section of this database indicated just what type of finding aid is currently available as Fold3.com has some databases of images that contain every name indexes.