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Rummaging in the Government's Attic

Patricia Sullivan

A press release that might be of interest to those intrigued by obituaries and history comes to us from, a nonprofit web site.

The National Personnel Records Center has released a list of some 3,000 prominent former military service men and women whose service records may be obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The list includes heroic officers and enlisted men, Medal of Honor winners, astronauts, and test pilots, among others -- plus actors, politicians, artists, executives, and government officials who went on to become famous after their military careers. Brief and often inspirational biographical sketches of the individuals are included in the list.

The "VIP List" was obtained under public records laws and may be downloaded as a PDF here. You have to request individual service records using the Freedom of Information Act.

The FBI also has just released a list of roughly 17,000 people who are likely to have FBI files. All have two things in common: all were prominent in some way and all are now dead. The deceased individuals include gangsters and scientists, politicians and Hollywood stars, military
figures and foreign leaders. The list may be downloaded, again as a PDF, here.

The list, known internally to the FBI's records division as the "dead list," was provided by the FBI in response to a public records request. It should be an invaluable tool to authors, journalists, historians, librarians, and genealogical researchers.

Copies of FBI files for specific individuals on the "dead list" may be requested under the Freedom of Information Act simply by writing to the FBI. The free web site "Get Grandpa's FBI File" and the FBI's own web site can help with making such requests. The FBI charges copying fees of $0.10 per page for files more than 100 pages; files less than 100 pages are free.

By Patricia Sullivan  |  January 5, 2010; 2:26 PM ET
Categories:  Patricia Sullivan  
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I love the dead list. In the middle of all these organized crime "LCN" (I assume La Cosa Nostra) listings, there sits Maria von Trapp.

Posted by: Blurgle | January 5, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

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