Ben Adair 1925 murder update — the dreaded FOIA request!

Just a quick update on the progress toward nailing down what exactly might have happened on the night in 1925 when a Harlem resident named Ben Adair was murdered by an as-yet unknown assailant in the apparent presence of three Negro Leagues stars — Oliver Marcell, Frank Wickware and Dave Brown …

I called the NYPD looking for the Cold Case unit. I was bounced to the Press Relations office, which in turn directed me to the Records Department office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests, a process I was hoping to avoid.

The Freedom on Information Acts in various states are ultimately very good things, because they force government agencies to turn over files and documents to the public that would otherwise be hidden from public view. Usually the FOIA process is used by investigative reporters who are looking into possible corruption, wrongdoing or other hinky business behind the walls of bureaucracy.

But FOIA can also be used by historians to force government officials to dig through long-forgotten archives that are collecting dust in some warehouse or other storage place. That process is almost certainly no fun for said officials, because it’s most likely a pain in the butt.

But it’s also a pain in the butt for historians and researchers who must wait patiently while those government bureaucrats to root through piles and piles and boxes and boxes of yellowing documents and files. That doesn’t include any fees the person making the FOIA request must incur for the process. Overall, it can be quite a challenge for everyone.

Sooooo, that’s what I’m going to do today — formally e-mail my FOIA request to release any and all NYPD records related to the 1925 murder. I’d say stay tuned, but it might be a while …

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One thought on “Ben Adair 1925 murder update — the dreaded FOIA request!

  1. Pingback: Update on 1925 murder | The Negro Leagues Up Close

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