Stephen Jones Archive Open for Research
The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin has fully processed and catalogued the Stephen Jones Oklahoma City Bombing Archive. Stephen Jones was appointed in May 1995 to serve as the lead defense attorney for Timothy McVeigh in the criminal court case United States of America v. Timothy James McVeigh and Terry Lynn Nichols. One of the largest collections at the center, the Jones Archive has taken a full year to prepare for public research.
“The Oklahoma City bombing is one of the most egregious acts of domestic terrorism ever to occur on American soil,” said Don Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. “While the bombing remains a sensitive and raw subject for many, I’m glad that Stephen Jones, who studied at UT Austin, saw the Briscoe Center as the institution best prepared to handle an archive of such gravitas.”
The massive Jones Archive includes trial transcripts; correspondence between McVeigh and his defense team; defense team working files; transcripts of conversations held during McVeigh’s incarceration; correspondence between McVeigh, friends and family members; and documentation related to media leaks, FBI lab contamination and various conspiracy theories.
“One of the most troubling aspects of the collection is that it’s clear from reading McVeigh’s notes and letters that he possessed a coherent, calculating mind,” said Carleton. “As with all the center’s collections, the Jones archive is historical evidence that enables a deeper understanding of the past.”
The archive is arranged into three main series. Series I contains materials generated and collected by Jones and the defense team during the trial. Making up the bulk of the collection, Series I includes documentation related to the preparations by McVeigh’s defense team for the main trial, including transcripts and other court documents, as well as defense-generated investigations, working files, collected media and news articles, correspondence between Jones and McVeigh, and legal research.
Series II consists of non-trial related court documents, including related civil suits and appeals; and Series III contains manuscript materials related to Stephen Jones and Peter Israel’s book, Others Unknown: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy.
“A collection such as the Jones Archive involves a lot of problem solving,” said Brenda Gunn, director of research and collections at the center. “Whether redacting sensitive materials such as social security numbers, retrieving files from outdated computer disks or dealing with over a million sheets of paper, archives of this scope need to be expertly handled.”
The archive was recently the subject of a widely distributed Associated Press story written for the twentieth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. The AP article was picked up by many national newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, ABC News and the New York Daily News. In addition, archivist Jessi Fishman, who processed the collection at the center, will speak in August at the Society of American Archivists Annual Conference for the panel, “Privacy v. Access: Legal and Ethical Challenges in High-Profile Collections.”
Finding Aid: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utcah/03493/cah-03493.html.
Briscoe Center Reference Services: http://www.cah.utexas.edu/research/visit.php
The Stephen Jones Archive is open now for research. It is recommended that researchers consult the finding aid and request materials before coming to the reading room. Due to the size of the collection, boxes are stored offsite and can take 24-48 hours to retrieve.