Are the negative responses of the FBI to Freedom of Information Act requests reliable?

For a biography I'm working on, I submitted to the FBI a FOIA search request about a congressman of the first half of the 29th century, about whom I thought J. Edgar Hoover might have maintained a file. I explicitly added that my request included Hoover's files as well as all of the agency's records.

The response back was "no records."

Can I rely on that response? Does the FBI make THOROUGH searches?

Are Hoover's famous files on various politicians and others DEFINITELY INCLUDED in such a search by the FBI?

Is there anything else I could do?

Histories of Courtroom Procedure Especially Judges and Lawyers in Court

Quick question from a colleague: I have a student who is interested in the history of courtroom procedure—more the performative aspect than the administrative one (though he is also interested in the “unwritten rules” of the judge-lawyer relationship). I want him to do some readings about the history of courts in the US so he can do some comparisons with the present. Do you have any suggestions for books (or articles) on the topic that would work well for an undergraduate?



John Wertheimer

William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of History

ASLH 9th Annual Student Research Colloquium

2022 Student Research Colloquium

The American Society for Legal History will host the ninth annual Student Research Colloquium (SRC) on Wednesday, November 9, and Thursday, November 10, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois.  The SRC annually brings eight graduate students to the site of the ASLH annual meeting to discuss their in-progress dissertations or other research projects with each other and with ASLH-affiliated scholars.

Member Publication: Islamic Law in Circulation

Dear colleagues, 

I am thrilled to announce the publication of my book Islamic Law in Circulation: Shafi'i Texts across the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean as part of the “Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization”. Ever since I researched this topic and began to think about it as a book, this has been my dream series! Super happy that it is coming out there itself!

New free, digital open-access book on immigration, citizenship, legal rights, and national identity: Stranger Citizens

Dear H-Net readers: I am excited to announced the publication of my new book, both as a free, open-access e-book and in traditional print format! Feel free to share the announcement below with students, fellow scholars, friends, and anyone else who may be interested.



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