what is the proper cite for personal papers?

+4 votes
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I have a family member who worked in the Dept. of State from 1932-1963. He was posted throughout orient, Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Germany. He passed some 25 years ago.

His papers are letters to home, and mentioned events of the day at some truly fascinating moments in history.

Most have stamp or some kind noting that they had "cleared", they are almost all air-mail, hand typed.  

I'd love to scan, publish them. At one time his position was considered "classified". I'm wondering if these fall under "public domain” and since they are personal correspondence (i.e. not from any previously published source), what kind of cite would be appropriate?

Should I document ownership? If so how?
in Genealogy Help by Rachael Hindman G2G2 (2.6k points)

1 Answer

+3 votes
 
Best answer
In my humble opinion copyright and trademark and all "rights" existing laws (these can include performance rights, estate rights, and host of rights most people have never heard of) is a very murky and misunderstood area of law even by lawyers.  I used to buy rights for video, print publications, and other uses,  My advice is contact a Rights and Permissions specific Attorney.  I am happy to give you the names of the ones I used.  This is a thorny issue and one that most are ill equipped to deal with.   

Public Domain definitions have changed over time.  The definition as to what it is, how long it lasts, and if it can be renewed changed a lot in the past 30 years of buying this kind of stuff.  Things that we used to think of as being in public domain suddenly came under estate rights or other rights.  So once again, get the opinion of someone who specializes in Rights and Permissions Law.  

Correspondence.  I recently saw a legal opinion that says you have to get the permission of both parties.  Now I did not spend the time to research if that is indeed the case but a Rights and Permissions Lawyer should be able to answer that.  

Security...  you did not say what agency your ancestor worked for... you might need to contact them to make sure anything you want to publish is indeed cleared for public use.   Don't assume that something stamped Top Secret Eyes Only is still in that status.  The Pentagon used to send me photos for use in things I was doing with that stamp on the back all the time.  I would call them and they would say, no, you can use it.   

Confusing for the non initiated to be sure!
by Laura Bozzay G2G6 (6.2k points)
selected by Susan Laursen

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