FBI Files on Sacco and Vanzetti on Microfilm

Collection Number: 6082 mf

Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
FBI Files on Sacco and Vanzetti on Microfilm,
Collection Number:
6082 mf
Creator:
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Quantity:
2 microfilm reels
Forms of Material:
Records, microfilm.
Repository:
Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library
Language:
Collection material in English


BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891 August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888 August 23, 1927) were Italian-born anarchists who were convicted of murdering two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory in Braintree, Massachusetts, United States in 1920.
A controversial trial in 1921 resulted in the men's conviction, despite equivocal ballistics evidence and numerous witnesses who claimed Sacco had been in Boston's North End and Vanzetti in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the day of the robbery. Both defendants had to recount their anarchist beliefs in court to explain why they had been found armed when arrested, leading to suspicions that this may have prejudiced the jury.
After a few hours' deliberation, the jury found Sacco and Vanzetti guilty of first-degree murder on July 14, 1921. A series of appeals followed, funded largely by a private Sacco and Vanzetti Defense Committee. The appeals were based on recanted testimony, conflicting ballistics evidence, a prejudicial pre-trial statement by the jury foreman, and a confession by an alleged participant in the robbery. All appeals were denied by the original trial judge and eventually by the Massachusetts State Supreme Court. By 1925, the case had drawn worldwide attention. As details of the trial and the men's suspected innocence became known, Sacco and Vanzetti became the center of one of the largest causes clbres in modern history. In 1927, protests on their behalf were held in every major city in North America and Europe, as well as Tokyo, Sydney, So Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Johannesburg.
Celebrated writers, artists, and academics pleaded for their pardon or for a new trial. Harvard law professor and future Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter argued for their innocence in a widely read Atlantic Monthly article that was later published in book form. Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in April 1927, accelerating the outcry. Responding to a massive influx of telegrams urging their pardon, Massachusetts governor Alvan Fuller appointed a three-man commission to investigate the case. After weeks of secret deliberation, which included interviews with the judge, lawyers, and several witnesses, the commission upheld the verdict. Sacco and Vanzetti were executed via electric chair on August 23, 1927. Subsequent riots destroyed property in Paris, London, and other cities.
Since their deaths, some critics have concluded that the two men were convicted largely because of anti-Italian prejudice and their anarchist political beliefs and were therefore unjustly executed. Investigations of the case continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s. The publication of the men's letters, containing eloquent professions of innocence, intensified belief in their wrongful execution. Additional ballistics tests and incriminating statements by the men's acquaintances have clouded the case. In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names", but did not proclaim them innocent.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Palmer, A. Mitchell (Alexander Mitchell), 1872-1936.
Sacco, Nicola, 1891-1927
Vanzetti, Bartolomeo, 1888-1927
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation --Archives

Form and Genre Terms:
Records.
Microfilm.


INFORMATION FOR USERS

Access Restrictions:
Access to the collections in the Kheel Center is restricted. Please contact a reference archivist for access to these materials.
Restrictions on Use:
This collection must be used in keeping with the Kheel Center Information Sheet and Procedures for Document Use.
Cite As:
FBI Files on Sacco and Vanzetti on Microfilm #6082 mf. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University Library.

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Reel 1
Reel 2