Digital Library of Secret Tobacco Documents Available

January 31, 2002
News Office: Wallace Ravven (415) 502-6397

The UCSF Library and Center for Knowledge Management today released on the internet the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, a collection of more than 20 million previously secret pages from tobacco industry files. The documents represent the world's largest public digital collection maintained by a library. The searchable collection can be accessed at legacy.library.ucsf.edu.

Ranging in date from the 1930s to the 1990s, the documents cover projects central to the tobacco industry such as marketing, research and development, cigarette analysis and design, as well as industry efforts to establish business in developing countries. The documents were obtained through the legal discovery process for a lawsuit against the major tobacco companies by the Attorney General of Minnesota and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Minnesota, and suits brought by other states. The suit was settled in 1998.

Funding for the project comes from the American Legacy Foundation (Legacy), which exactly one year ago awarded $15 million to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) to establish permanent internet access to the documents and to develop a center for scholarly study of the material. UCSF is a national leader in research examining tobacco industry practices as well as the health effects of tobacco. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provided additional support.

"We have accomplished what we promised one year ago - the creation of a single portal into the working files of the major tobacco companies," said Karen Butter, UCSF assistant vice chancellor, library services and instruction technology. "The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library serves as a free and permanent home for more than 20 million pages."

Most of the documents have been obtained through litigation involving 46 state attorneys general. They were previously released, but on disparate industry websites with access assured only until 2008. The Legacy support assures free, permanent, stable internet access.

"By preserving and ensuring access to the sordid history told in the tales of the tobacco industry documents, there is hope that as a nation we will not allow a repeat of the mistakes and misdeeds of the past," said Cheryl G. Healton, president and chief executive officer of American Legacy Foundation. "Using what we learn and being more informed today, we will protect the health of millions of Americans."

The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (LTDL) allows seven separate document collections to be searched through one user-friendly interface. Users can perform simple or advanced searches, view documents in a variety of image formats (PDF, TIF, or simply in the window of the web browser) and collect findings in a digital bookbag which can be downloaded or emailed. The site also provides information on topics related to the documents, such as history of tobacco, litigation, tobacco use and health, and youth smoking.

More documents will be added to the digital collection over the next 18 months.

The UCSF Library, which hosts the LTDL, has been a leader in the field of tobacco industry document research and access since UCSF established the Library Tobacco Control Archives (TCA) in 1994. TCA provides a centralized source of information about the tobacco control movement and resulting legislation. It collects, preserves, and provides access to papers, unpublished documents, and electronic resources. Highlights include the Brown & Williamson Collection-the first tobacco industry documents to be released on the Internet- documentation of the lawsuit challenging the Joe Camel ad campaign, and the British American Tobacco Company Collection, offering a small number of digital documents from a print-only depository in the UK.

The American Legacy Foundation is a national, independent Washington D.C.-based foundation created by the November 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. The foundation is dedicated to reducing tobacco use in the U.S. with major initiatives reaching youth, women, and priority populations through grant awards, research initiatives, marketing campaigns, training programs, and collaboration with national and local partners. The American Legacy Foundation's website is www.americanlegacy.org

This news release has been modified for the Web site