This digital exhibit, “Declassified: Operation Boulder” is the work of a subgroup affiliated with Columbia University’s Declassification Engine Conference, consisting of Communications Ph.D student Andi Dixon, and Barnard College Librarian Vani Natarajan. This conference presents the Declassification Engine project, which aims to reopen closed chapters in American politics and foreign policy by analyzing millions of released documents, often in digital form, using Natural Language Processing (NLP) and statistical/ machine learning tools.
Dixon and Natarajan have developed this digital exhibit to showcase both primary and secondary sources found in research on Operation Boulder, a sustained campaign of discrimination against Arab Americans and Middle Eastern people living in or traveling to the United States. The measures that constituted the operation were enacted by the Nixon Administration, between the years 1972 and 1975.
This operation has been shrouded in mystery, as few unclassified materials existed referencing the policy. Thanks to the release of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables from the 1970s, including still-classified documents, the Declassification Engine team has nonetheless uncovered significant information about the enaction, operation and outcomes of Operation Boulder—we offer this in our digital exhibit. As we extend this archive, we invite reader responses, comments, and questions. Please also visit the Declassification Engine Conference project website where you can learn more about the work of the broader project and its contributors. Lastly, very special thanks to Professor Matthew Connelly who is spearheading this research, all-around computing whiz Austin Baker, and the rest of the Declassification Engine Team for their help building this exhibit.