Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Where Are the Records? NSA, CSS, CIA, Code Girls

Many do not know there is a National Cryptologic Museum (NCM), a public museum in US Intelligence Community, located adjacent to the National Security Agency (NSA in Maryland.  This museum has artifacts and outlines the nation's history in code making and code breaking.  Plus there's a library of cryptologic media. The museum opened back in Dec 1993. It did close for renovations, but reopened Oct 2022. However, there's also a virtual option.  

Cryptographic Equipment WWII

Our Ancestors
I have written about the Code Girls and mentioned the Museum, but the topic came up most recently while enjoying a podcast audio book, Reverse Tell, authored by Stephanie Hartell, a former CIA case office, and narrated by Steve Hall, a former CIA case officer, hosted on Not Necessarily Nefarious podcast. Yes, that's an invitation for you to read, prior to visiting the Museum.

Reverse Tell on the Not Necessarily Nefarious podcast

I know... it's unclassified fiction, but that's what we have to work with when our ancestors keep their coding/decoding jobs a secret. When they take the secrecy of their role at the NSA and CIA to their graves, what we have left is an imagination.  Luckily for us, Hartell fills in some of our creative gaps through a crafted fiction spy novel, that truly should be a TV series. You will forget it is fiction, and be thankful it's much less work than drafting stories of our own ancestors participation in the CIA and NSA. (But, I encourage you to do that too). Here's the link to Reverse Tell audio book provided in 30 minute episodes.   

Where Are My Ancestors Records?
Of course every family historian and genealogist want to get their hands on the personnel records and work histories of our ancestors. Sure, we can get their military personnel records from National Personnel Record Center (NPRC), or Archives I, NARA in Washington, DC for early war records (pre-WWI wars). 

5 Resources to Access NSA/CSS Archival Records
Know up front that records may exists, but may not be releasable (NSA/CSS)

  1. Records of the National Security Agency/Central Security Service (NSA/CSS)

  2. CIA Declassified Records & FOIA Requests
    For CIA personnel records for yourself after 1946, write to the Information and Privacy Coordinator Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. 20505. For genealogical purposes request the personnel  file under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

  3. NSA FOIA Request? For realistic expectations, be sure to read: 
    Submit a NSA FOIA Request
  4. Want A File From The NSA? You Can Ask, But You Might Not Get It

  5. The Petticoat Panel
    Did you know the CIA did a study in 1953 on the Role of Women in Intelligence? Read about Code Girls Research Here.  The audio book Reverse Tell on the Not Necessarily Nefarious podcast will peak your interest. Learn about The Petticoat Panel here. 

Kathleen Brandt
Be Historically Correct
Accurate Accessible Answers

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