Malcolm X assassination closed case files

Collection REC0060 - RG 007. New York County District Attorney


On February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was shot and killed just as he was about to address a rally of the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. This collection contains the New York District Attorney’s investigation files into his assassination.


4.5 cubic feet (9 boxes)



Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Patrons are requested to use the digitized version of this collection in order to protect the original records.

Physical Location

Materials are stored onsite at 31 Chambers St.

Alternate Forms Available

The entirety of this collection has been digitized and is available to view through our online gallery.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by archives intern Elizabeth Mazucci in 2014. The finding aid was updated and standardized by staff archivist Alexandra Hilton in 2018.
The New York District Attorney’s Malcolm X assassination case file, closed case file #871-65, is divided into three series, according to three chronological stages that cover the life of the case: District Attorney’s Case Files, Supreme Court Trial Transcript, and Appeals Case Preparations. Series I primarily encompasses the investigation period, i.e. the period between the crime and the trial. Series II marks the trial period, as it contains a bound transcript of the 1966 trial. Series III primarily covers the period following the trial until the file was closed in 1993. The inclusive dates expand far beyond the life of the case because the collection contains a 1963 newspaper and photographs taken in 1999 of a missing artifact.
Each of the five counties in New York City elects a district attorney. The functions and responsibilities of the district attorney have remained essentially unchanged since establishment of the grand jury system in the late 1600s. As the public prosecutor, the district attorney is responsible for presenting sufficient evidence to a grand jury to obtain an indictment for a subsequent trial before a petit jury. The district attorney prosecutes only felony offenses. District attorneys have no civil jurisdiction whatsoever.

Assistant District Attorney Herbert Stern prosecuted the case against defendants Norman Butler, Thomas Hagan, and Thomas Johnson, accused of murdering Malcolm X on February 21, 1965. Assistant District Attorneys Stern and Vincent Dermody worked under District Attorney Frank Hogan, who served from 1942-1974. Subsequent motions by defendants Butler and Johnson in the 1970s were handled by Assistant District Attorney Allen Alpert in the office of District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. This case spans two district attorney terms.
The Malcolm X assassination case file records are arranged into three series.
Guide to the Malcolm X assassination closed case files, 1963-1999
Elizabeth Mazucci
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2018: Standardized and updated by staff archivist Alexandra Hilton