Teamwork Brings the Past to Life

Working together helps to lighten the load.

We at OGIS talk a lot about the importance of teamwork. Though we mostly think about teamwork improving everyday agency processes (such as FOIA) so that they run more smoothly, we recently heard about a cross-agency team recognizing a small opportunity and turning it into a big reward.

Between 1946 and 1995, the Immigration and Naturalization Service New York City Office (now the New York City Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services or CIS, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security), conducted hundreds of special investigations. The office investigated high-profile individuals, organizations, and ethnic and immigrant groups including the Jewish Cultural Society Club, the Black Panther Party, Rastafarians, the National Committee against Nazi Criminals and Nazism in America, and others. These fascinating records languished among CIS’s holdings until that office reached out to the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA’s) Federal Records Center and the Permanent Records Capture team for assistance in making them available to the public.

Once the Permanent Records Capture team became aware of these obscure but fascinating records, it quickly organized a team of records analysts, accessions experts, classified records experts and other experts from NARA locations in four states and from CIS. The team includes CIS’s historian.

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of this team, this fascinating group of records is on a path to be declassified, processed, and opened for public research.

We would like to commend this group for finding ways around bureaucratic barriers in order to put these records in the hands of researchers as quickly as possible. We are all looking forward to hearing more about what these fascinating records may hold. Way to make teamwork work!