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HIST268: JFK Assassination

Spring 2023 course with Dr. Johanningsmeier


Welcome to the course guide created for HIST268: JFK Assassination! On this guide you will find helpful search tips, links to collections, and contact information on how to meet with John and I. 

Image of JFK and the First Lady in their car minutes before he was shot

Government Documents 101

Terms you should know about! 

Active records: Active records refer to any records that a government agency needs on-going access to in order to conduct business. Active records are usually housed in the agency where the records are being created/collected.

Inactive records: Inactive records are records that a government agency does not need regular access to any longer. These records may still need to be retained for a period for historical or informational purposes. Inactive records may be located at the agency, or they may be moved to a record center for long-term storage. 

Permanent records: Permanent records are records created or collected by an individual or agency that, because of their enduring value, are retained in perpetuity. Permanent records may be located at the agency, or they may be housed at the National Archives. 

Government reports vs. Government records: A government record is any record that is created or collected by a government agency in the regular course of its business. A government report, on the other hand, is a report produced by a government agency to relay information, usually in response to a legal or regulatory requirement imposed on the agency.   


Record schedule: A records schedule is a policy that is created by a government agency, in cooperation with the National Archives, that defines what permanent records are for an agency, and provides guidance on how long to keep active and inactive records. 

Embargo: A period of time in which a record may be deemed inactive, but cannot be made public. For example, US census records are embargoed for 72 years (e.g. the full 2020 Census information will not be publicly available until 2092). 

FOIA: Freedom of Information Act, a federal law (most states have something similar for state records) that allows citizens to request access to information from government agencies. Through the FOIA process, citizens are able to request most government information, though there are some exceptions for classified information and some personally identifiable information (PII).

Unclassified records: Government records that have never been classified. Unclassified records are records that do not contain information which could prove harmful to the government of the United States or its operations if released.   

Declassified records: Declassified records are government records that have been reviewed for classified information and released for public access. Some declassified records may be redacted; in these cases, portions of a record that the government believes cannot be released will be blacked out or made otherwise inaccessible, while the rest of the record is publicly accessible.