Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940, Jill Brett (202) 707-2905
July 26, 1993
Library of Congress Opens POW/MIA Database
On July 1, the POW/MIA Data base was opened to the general public at a computer workstation located in the Library of Congress Computer Catalog Center in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The data base is the creation of the Library of Congress's Federal Research Division, which is indexing documents declassified by the Department of Defense concerning American prisoners of war and those missing in action in Southeast Asia. The title of the collection is Correlated and Uncorrelated Information Related to Missing Americans in Southeast Asia.
The Federal Research Division is receiving the documents from the Department of Defense pursuant to the FY 1992 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1082 of the Act, Disclosure of Information Concerning United States Personnel Classified as Prisoner of War or Missing in Action During Vietnam Conflict, requires placement of the information in a "suitable library-like location within a facility within the National Capital region for public review and photocopying." The Library of Congress was selected for that setting, and the Federal Research Division was contracted to index the documents for input into a computer- searchable file. Upon completion of the indexing, the documents are microfilmed for public use and preservation.
Documents being declassified include the fifteen volumes of "Uncorrelated Information Related to Missing Americans in Southeast Asia," released December 15, 1978, Indochinese Refugee Reports, Source Reports (containing verified live sightings of Americans in Southeast Asia, hearsay live sightings, grave site and crash site information), and Casualty Files.
The public will be able to use the workstation to search the index using keywords, date of information, type of document, country of incident (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos), and by personal names. Because of restrictions, the number of documents with names is limited.
The National Defense Authorization Act prohibits public release of information on living persons unless they consent in writing. It also prohibits the release of information on a person who is dead, incapacitated, or whose whereabouts are unknown unless consent is given by "a family member or family members of that person determined to be appropriate by the Secretary of Defense."
Library patrons may print the results of their search, request the microfilm from the Microform Reading Room in order to examine the documents, and make photocopies. The documents microfilmed are the same copies indexed by Federal Research Division staff. Neither the Library of Congress nor the Federal Research Division is responsible for the declassification of the documents.
The indexing is continuing and the data base will be updated on a regular basis as more documents are microfilmed. Currently there are approximately 20,000 documents in the data base.
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