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Mss:832 1963-1991 G476

Gillen, Vincent W. Vincent W. Gillen Papers, 1963-1991 (inclusive): A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:832 1963-1991 G476
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Vincent W. Gillen
Title: Vincent W. Gillen papers
Date(s): 1963-1991
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet (1 carton, 2 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: Papers of Vincent W. Gillen, F.B.I. agent, corporate personnel officer, and college professor. Collection contains news clippings, printed reports, legal documents, and correspondence relating to the court case between Ralph Nader and General Motors and Vincent Gillen.


Gift of Vincent W. Gillen, 1994

Processing Information:

Processed: January 1994; January 1998
By: Barbara Austin (1994) and Anna Koch (1998)

Conditions Governing Access:

Appointment necessary to consult collection.

Preferred Citation:

Cite as: Vincent W. Gillen Collection. Baker Library Historical Collections. Harvard Business School.

Biographical Note:

Vincent W. Gillen, born April 30, 1910, was by training an attorney. From the 1930s to1955, he worked as an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a corporate personnel officer, and college professor. In the late 1950s, Gillen 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 Note:

The papers of Vincent Gillen, 1963-1991, represent his association with General Motors and the lawsuit brought against the company by consumer advocate Ralph Nader in 1966. The collection 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.

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