When Congress mandated the creation of the JFK Assassination Record Collection, it wanted to ensure maximum public access to the process. To do this, it decided to impose strict requirements on the Assassination Record Review Board (ARRB), the independent agency it established to oversee the Collection’s creation. One of these requirements was that ARRB had to publish notices of its meetings, decisions, and rule-making in the Federal Register.
The Federal Register is the official ‘newspaper’ of the United States federal government, where all government agencies publish Sunshine Law notices of meetings and rules. These Federal Register notices are thus a permanent public record of the meetings and conduct of the ARRB. The notices, and the massive paperwork preparation for them, take up a good part of the ARRB electronic records that were released by NARA last year, and in turn these electronic records provide a very useful supplement to the Board’s Federal Register notices, as we will see further down the road.
Since the ARRB played the central role in creating the JFK Assassination Record Collection, these notices are an inescapable part of evaluating how the ARC was put together and what is in it. That is why I am going to be posting a fair amount of material on the Federal Register Notices in the next week or so.
The ARRB notices date from 1994 to 1998, so it took some effort to find a source for these. Unfortunately, I did not look hard enough at current resources, and after getting lost in the underbrush at the Office of the Federal Register I went to the Hathitrust collection. Hathitrust actually has large chunks of past issues of the Federal Register. These come mostly from the University of Illinois at Champagne-Urbana; apparently there was at one point a project to scan UIUC’s entire Federal Register holdings. However, the scanned issues are quite incomplete, and the OCR quality was totally inadequate for my purposes.
It turns out that there is now a complete electronic version of the Register on-line at the GPO website. This project was just completed (see here). For 1995 and later, it is down to the document by document level, so I was able to get both PDF and text versions of these notices. For the five notices printed in 1994, one can still download the relevant sections of the Register in whole, and just flip through the pdfs until you find what you need.
Links to, excerpts from, and discussions of ARRB notices in the Federal Register will therefore be posted here in the next week or so.