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Governmentattic.org: FOIA requested docs posted online

 

FOIA

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Governmentattic.org is a non-commercial website that provides electronic copies of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) inquiries. The documents on the website were obtained legally, following the FOIA rules. Each document has an identified source. The site is funded by the site owners, and receives no outside funding. Governmentattic.org is organized into 11 categories, including Department of Justice documents, FBI documents, Legislative Agencies, Government Corporations and State Records. From the FBI records regarding Ike Turner and alleged check passing to files regarding electronic surveillance at the Department of Justice, there is something to interest everyone.

If you are curious about how many requests are fulfilled and denied, you might be interested in the data from foia.gov.  This site also explains the process for filing a FOIA request.

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By Stephani Rodgers, Liaison for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness

HeinOnline: Legal materials from the colonies forward

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VCU Libraries subscribes to HeinOnline, a searchable image-based database of legal research materials. What makes acquisition of this database exciting is its depth and its application to so many different disciplines and areas of study. While HeinOnline is an excellent resource for researchers looking for articles on legal issues of any kind, the collections have applicability to anyone studying history, political science, public policy and administration, homeland security, criminal justice, international relations, or any topic which involves those subjects.

At the heart of the database is the law journal collection which includes more than 2,000 publications, each provided from its first issue to the latest, subject to moving-wall restrictions. The historical collection of state statutes provides superseded statutes for all 50 states, some dating as far back as 1717.

The same “from inception” coverage, with various cut-off dates, applies to the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Reports, and many other collections. Having older versions of laws and regulations is of great benefit for those researching the evolution of statutory and regulatory coverage of certain topics.

A few examples will provide an indication of how deep the collections are. The U.S. Treaties and Agreements Library contains not only all U.S. treaties, but also books and other texts such as Great European Treaties of the Nineteenth Century (1918), History of the Five Indian Nations of Canada (1755), and treaty guides and indexes such as Hertslet’s Commercial Treaties: A Complete Collection (Vols. 1-31). Foreign Relations of the United States covers every administration from Lincoln through Carter and also includes historical texts such as Trescot’s Diplomatic History of the Administration of Washington and Adams (1857) among many others. The U.S. Congressional Documents collection includes the Congressional Record (and its predecessors) from the 1st Congress to current, as well as Congressional Budget Office documents from 1976 to present, and what appears to be all of the unclassified Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports. Finally,the Session Laws collection for Virginia covers 1661-2013, thus extending our access significantly backward from December, 1861, the date of the first print volume in our collection.

Each page of every document has a permanent link. Click on the link icon to display the permanent link that can then be placed anywhere.

Citations for journal articles only may be exported to RefWorks; instructions are linked from the RefWorks guide. The combination of WestlawNext and HeinOnline provides access to legal, regulatory, and Congressional information from colonial times to the present day.

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By Marilyn Scott, education research librarian

Image: Creative Commons

Data Project: Map illustrates roots of racism 1915-40

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Map of Klan projectJohn Kneebone, who chairs VCU’s Department of History, partnered with VCU Libraries to create “Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940.” This resource combines mapping, animation, information about primary sources, and an accompanying essay discussing the project. All of these aspects work together to present the story of the spread of the Klan across the entirety of the United States after 1915, along with context in which that spread happened. This project presents original research on an important topic in U.S. history in a format that shows dynamically the nature of the processes at work in the underlying story. It was designed to educate users, facilitate research and scholarship, and be useful in the classroom.

Researchers studying history, homeland security, domestic terrorism, and cultural, ethnic, or American studies might want to examine the source material underlying “Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940.” The data underlying the project is available in CSV and SQL formats for download, and is licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0). The data can be manipulated using a range of methods, from SQL queries to software designed to support data analysis.

Classroom projects incorporating “Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940” could take many forms in different fields. A set of introductory questions posted in the “Learn More” section of the resource may serve as a useful jumping-off point for creating assignments. The animation and data can be studied in a classroom setting or by individual students, whether studying 20th century homeland security or the history of hate crimes and prejudicial violence.

If “Mapping the Second Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1940” inspires you to research Klan activity in your area, or if you have additional sources or information to share, or if you have questions about the project, contact: librarylabs@vcu.edu.

News article on the project

The VCU News story about this project was one of the top 10 most-read articles for 2015.

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By John Glover, humanities research librarian