UA 53.23




29 linear feet (29 records center boxes)


Matt Cecil was a media historian and Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication. This collection is composed of Cecil's research of the relationships of journalists and J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI from 1928 to 1972.

Historical Note

Matthew Cecil received his B.S. in History from South Dakota State University in 1995. He then went on to Minnesota State University at Mankato to receive his M.A. in History. In 2000, he graduated from the University of Iowa with a Ph.D. in Mass Communication with a specialization in Publication Relations.

Cecil's career has includes experience as a political reporter and columnist, and a media relations practitioner in South Dakota and North Dakota. His teaching career started as a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Iowa. His first Assistant Professor position was a Purdue University in the Department of Communication from 2000-2002. He then took a position at the University of Oklahoma. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Brookings, SD and South Dakota State University. Dr. Cecil is now an Associate Professor and the Coordinator of the Media Production Emphasis in the Department of Journalism & Mass Communication. Dr. Cecil teaches a variety of courses including the department's introductory course, Introduction to Mass Communication, as well as basic video production, new media, and public relation skills.

Cecil's specialty area is new media and media history, but his expertise would be the FBI public relations during the J. Edgar Hoover era. Dr. Cecil's scholarly work has appeared in American Journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, The Journalism Inquiry, and other national and international journals.

Content Notes

In the course of his research over the last ten years, Associate Professor Matthew Cecil has used the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act to collect the J. Edgar Hoover-era FBI files of hundreds of prominent journalists. In all, Cecil has collected nearly 90,000 pages of FBI information. The files have provided the raw material for several scholarly publications and Cecil has several more, along with a book project, in the works.

The folders consist of photocopied files provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the request of Dr. Cecil. The documents were reviewed under the Freedom on Information/Privacy Acts, Title 5, United Stated Code, Section 552/552a by the FBI. Deletions were made to protect information which was exempt from disclosure. A deleted page information sheet was inserted in the file to indicate where pages were withheld. These sheets will be found in the folders.

Most of the material in the folders is made up of correspondence and clippings from newspapers and tearsheets from magazines and other publications. Researchers will also find case reports, FBI teletype (a message sent and received via a teleprinter-character printer connected to a telegraph that operates like a typewriter), routing slips, memoranda, telegrams, surveillance reports, news releases, interviews, essays, investigations, and typescripts.

While the strength of this collection lies in journalism and the J. Edgar Hoover era of the FBI, the topics of the collection covers a wide variety of subjects, from Communism and McCarthyism to organized crime, kidnapping, death threats, and the Kennedy Assassination and smear campaigns.

Some photocopies provided by the FBI are difficult to read. When this occurred, a sheet was inserted in the file that states:

"The best copy obtainable is included in the reproduction of these documents. Pages included that are blurred, lights, or otherwise difficult to read are the result of the condition of the original document. No better copy can be reproduced."

Some of the material received were water damaged. While no mold is present, the papers are warped and wrinkled. They are dry but may become brittle over time. These folders have been marked as "water damaged." The Archives reserves the right to refuse photocopy requests if these materials become too fragile or may be damaged by the photocopying process.

SDSU Archives and Special Collections

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South Dakota State University Archives and Special Collections, Hilton M. Briggs Library, Brookings, South Dakota.


Copyright restrictions apply in different ways to different materials. Many of the documents and other historical materials in the Archives are in the public domain and may be reproduced and used in any way. There are other materials in the Archive carrying a copyright interest and must be used according to the provisions of Title 17 of the U.S. Code. The Archive issues a warning concerning copyright restrictions to every researcher who requests copies of documents. Although the copyright law is under constant redefinition in the courts, it is ultimately the responsibility of the researcher to properly use copyrighted material.