Vincent W. Gillen
Papers, 1963-1991

Mss: 832

Historical Note:

Vincent W. Gillen, born April 30, 1910, was by training an attorney. However, between the 1930s and 1955, he worked as an FBI agent, corporate personnel officer, and college professor. In the late 1950s he purchased FIDELIFACTS, a franchise which specialized in pre-employment screening and special background checks of prospective employees. Located in the metropolitan New York and northern New Jersey areas, Gillen and his colleague, Thomas Norton, enjoyed great success. In addition, Gillen formed his own firm with Thomas Norton in 1976 which provided the similar services. Norton bought out Gillen's share of that company in 1976.

In January 1966, General Motors hired Vincent Gillen to conduct an investigation of Ralph Nader. Nader, author of Unsafe at Any Speed, accused General Motors and other automobile manufacturers of knowingly building unsafe vehicles. During the first two months of 1966, Gillen and his staff interviewed Nader's friends, colleagues, and family members. This action led to Gillen and representatives of General Motors to be called as witnesses at a congressional hearing later that year. In December 1966, Nader sued General Motors and Vincent Gillen for invasion of privacy. The case continued for four years until the final appeal decision.

Scope and Content:

The papers of Vincent Gillen, 1963-1991, contain news clippings, reports, legal documents, and correspondence relating to the court case between Ralph Nader and General Motors and Vincent Gillen. Added to the collection at a later date is Gillen's FBI file which he requested through the Freedom of Information Act. Few original documents remain; the bulk are photocopies or carbon copies.

Of particular note in the collection is a transcript of Gillen's testimony before the Senate concerning investigative reports on Ralph Nader. The file "Letters from General Counsel" also contains a report of Gillen's investigative activities and minutes of his agency's Board of Directors in October 1966. Legal documents include subpoenas, summonses, briefs, affidavits, releases, and replies. Also of interest are materials on other cases handled by Gillen, reportedly compiled for his memoirs, and correspondence with reporters and publishers about coverage of the court case with Nader.

Provenance: Gift of Vincent W. Gillen, 1994.

Amount: 1 carton, 2 boxes

Container List:

C.1     f.1   Nader, correspondence, investigative reports, 12/21/65-3/20/66
f.2   Nader, correspondence, reports, etc., 4/1/66
f.3   Nader, summon, news clippings, articles, 1966
f.4   Nader, report, bill, clippings, transcript, 1966-1967
f.5   Nader, clippings, articles, correspondence, 1966, 1969-1970
f.6   Nader, book review, correspondence, statement, legal documents, transcripts, 1966-1969, 1971
f.7   Copies of correspondence, reports, articles, 1966-1967 (1 of 4)
f.8   Copies of correspondence, reports, articles, 1966-1967 (2 of 4)
f.9   Copies of correspondence, reports, articles, 1966-1967 (3 of 4)
f.10   Copies of correspondence, reports, articles, 1966-1967 (4 of 4)
f.11   Correspondence, reports and articles on other case sand publications/productions on Nader, 1965-1991
f.12   Letter from General Counsel, General Motors, and other correspondence, investigative activity report, minutes, statements, 1965-1966, 1980
f.13   Investigative reports, January 1966
f.14   Investigative reports includes correspondence about book on Nader, 1766-1976
f.15   Invoice for Nader case and other cases, 1963-1966
f.16   Brief, for Gillen defendants/respondents, 1968
f.17   Briefs and appendix, for defendant/appellant, 1969
f.18   Legal documents, 1966-1970
f.19   U.S. Congress, Senate, Hearings, Testimonies, ca. 1966
B.2     f.1   Articles, television show transcript, 1970, 1971, 1990
f.2   Clippings, 1966-1967 (1 of 2)
f.3   Clippings, 1966-1967 (2 of 2)
f.4   Clippings, 1969-1970
f.5   Clippings, 1971
f.6   Clippings, 1972-1991
f.7   U.S. Congress, Senate. Federal Role in Traffic Safety, Part 2, 1965
f.8   Stuart M. Speiser, Lawsuit, (Horizon Press, 1980), annotated by Vincent Gillen
B.3     f.1   FBI file on Vincent Gillen, requested August 1977 through the Freedom of Information Act.