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   Amnesty International of the USA, Inc. National Office Records, 1966-2003 [Bulk Dates: 1974-1993]

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Amnesty International of the USA, Inc.: National Office Records, Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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Summary Information

Abstract

The records document the founding and development of Amnesty International of the USA, Inc. (AIUSA) and its national office. AIUSA is the largest national section of Amnesty International, an international human rights non-governmental organization (NGO). The records include material related to the board of directors, executive directors, administration, operations, campaigns, casework, publicity, special projects, and the work of the organization and its membership on human rights issues.

At a Glance

Bib ID:6093730 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Amnesty International USA. National Office.
Title:Amnesty International of the USA, Inc. National Office Records, 1966-2003 [Bulk Dates: 1974-1993]
Physical description:107.52 linear feet (256 document boxes).
Language(s): The majority of the material is in English . There is some material in French, Spanish, Russian and Japanese.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library Reading Room. Please consult the Rare Book and Manuscript Library for further information. This collection has restrictions. Restrictions for boxes and folders are noted in the series descriptions and may also be found within the contents list.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

In eleven series:

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Description

Scope and Content

The Amnesty International of the USA, Inc: National Office Records document AIUSA's founding, development, administration, decision-making processes, finances, fundraising, and the work of the section and its membership on human rights issues. The records also document the working relationships of the national office and the membership, other offices, sections, and the International Secretariat. The records include case files, country files, testimony files, minutes, reports, correspondence and records related to regional and annual meetings, development, events, special projects, communications, membership, and the work of country specialists, networks, and local groups.

Coverage is not comprehensive. Although AIUSA was incorporated in 1966, the bulk of the office records cover the mid-1970s through 1993, the last year of the executive directorship of Jack Healey. Early AIUSA activity is best documented by the records of the Board of Directors and the Annual General Meetings.

The records of the National Office are not fully processed and available for use at this time. Processed material includes records related to Board of Directors, Executive Directors, Annual General Meetings, and Membership Coordination and Mobilization. The processed material is fully described in the finding aid.

Records that are not yet processed or available for research include records related to the communications department, the development unit, special projects, country specialists (co-groups), networks, campaigns, country files, case files, and the majority of records related to general administration and operations.

The section's primary organizational function does not include management of Amnesty International's international affairs. The archives of the International Secretariat are held by the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam.

Series I: Board of Directors, 1965-2003

The AIUSA Board of Directors oversees many larger organizational issues such as budgets, fundraising, staffing, development, and policy. The Board is also responsible for representing the section's membership and participating in the larger international movement.

Subseries I.1: Board Meetings, 1965-2003

This series consists of agendas, minutes, and other meeting materials. The files include memoranda, press clippings, reports of the Executive Director, and reports and minutes of the board committees. The files also contain reports and updates on countries, missions, meetings, programs, finances, and other issues of interest to the Board of Directors. The series is arranged chronologically.

Subseries I.2 Board Committees, 1967-1994

Comprised mainly of agendas, minutes and other meeting materials related to the main board committees, the bulk of the files are related to the meetings of the board's Executive Committee (1974-1993; Bulk 1974-1982). Much of this material includes minutes and reports also available in the meeting materials of the Board of Directors in Series 1: Board Meetings. There is some additional material related to task forces and other committees in the Series 3: Subject Files. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries I.3: International Councils and Committees, 1968-1995

This series includes meeting materials related to the International Council Meetings (ICM) (1968-1995) and the International Executive Committee (IEC) (1967-1993). Files on the ICM include information on proposals, resolutions, working parties, participants, and decisions. The files include both meeting materials and later reports on the meeting's proceedings, decisions and implementation of decisions. The IEC files include material related to the IEC's standing committees. This series is arranged alphabetically by main topic.

Subseries I.4: Subject Files, 1975-1995

Much of the material in this series is related to issues of administration and policy including board elections, board structure and functions, finance, sectional and international meetings, planning and development, and staff issues. The files also include correspondence and reports on activities, programs and other issues. This series is arranged alphabetically.

Series II: Executive Director's Files, 1964-1997 bulk 1973-1993

This series contains the files of the executive and acting executive directors of AIUSA. The series also includes memos and other mailings sent to the national sections by the International Secretariat (IS) and the Research Department, mostly on country-specific issues. The files are arranged alphabetically as subject files, but include chronological correspondence files and "country related correspondence" files that cover a wide range of topics, including those covered elsewhere in the subject files.

Subseries II.1 David Hawk Files, 1972-1978

This series is comprised of files are related to administrative and operational activities including finance, fundraising, adoption groups, the western regional offices, reports, and the creation of the Washington DC Office and the Medical Committee. There are also files related to larger policy issues, including homosexuality and political balance, and AIUSA's attempts to forge connections with NGOs, the UN, churches, and rural areas. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries II.2: Gerhard Elston Files, 1967-1983

This series was originally grouped together as "Executive Directors' Miscellaneous" but the records appear to be the files of Gerhard Elston. Many of these files are related to administrative and operational activities including staff meetings, seminars, and fundraising. There are also files on AIUSA's programs, and on subjects including disappearances, torture, and the death penalty. There are few country files in this series, although there is some correspondence related to country issues. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries II.3: Jack Healey Files, 1977-1993

The files contain information on administrative issues, committees, operations, regional offices, programs, fundraising, and special projects. In particular, this series contains detailed information on music projects such as A Conspiracy of Hope Tour (1986), the Human Rights Now! World Tour (1988), Women on the Front Line (1992) and other special projects (1986-1993). The series is arranged alphabetically. Within some of the larger subject areas, files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries II.4 William Shulz Files, 1994-1997

The series currently includes on Schulz's schedule, human rights education, and events. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Subseries II.5: National Section Memos, 1964-1983.

This series contains memos, background papers, clippings, urgent action newsletters, news releases, reports and other material received from the International Secretariat (IS) and the Research Department. In addition, some files include correspondence related to the National Office of AIUSA. This series is arranged alphabetically by country under the main headings of Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and North Africa.

Series III: Annual General Meetings, 1967-1997.

The files include meeting materials and information on planning, workshops, resolutions, and plenary sessions. Files are most comprehensive for meetings held in the 1980s and early 1990s. This series is arranged chronologically. A few files related to the Annual General Meetings of other national sections are placed last.

Series IV: Membership Mobilization, 1971-1995

This series contains files related to the mobilization of the AIUSA membership, and to the coordination and servicing of the work of local groups and student groups. While the series does contain some material on country coordination groups (co-groups), particularly in the files of Robert Maurer, most material related to co-groups is filed in the Country Coordination Groups (Co-Group) series. The files are arranged alphabetically by the staff person's last name.

Subseries IV.1: Membership Mobilization and Coordination, 1975-1995

The series includes files from the verious staff.

Subseries IV.2: Local and Student Groups, 1971-1994.

This subseries contains files related to the activities and servicing of local and student groups.

Series V: Country Coordination Groups (Co-Groups), 1978-1995

Country Coordination Groups (co-groups) are volunteer groups that have expertise on a particular country or region. This program is also known as the Country Specialist Program. These groups help to manage the country-related work of AIUSA and act as liaisons on casework issues among local groups, sections and the International Secretariat.

Subseries V.1: General, 1978-1988

These files are the records of Pat Bronstein Kos and Sheila Dauer. The records include general information on the purpose and functionality of country coordination groups, as well as correspondence and materials related to activities, budgets, country work, formation, monthly mailings, planning and priorities, policy discussions, structure, and training.

Subseries V.2: Sheila Dauer Files, 1988-1995

Dauer's files include training materials for country coordination groups and files related to their activities, campaigns, country work, policy issues, and other general subjects.

Series VI: Networks, 1975-1995

Networks serve to organize individuals who have chosen to use their professional training for human rights work.

Subseries VI.1: Educators Network, 1987-1990

The Educator’s Network of AIUSA serves to facilitate and promote the development and exchange among educators of effective strategies for teaching about human rights. This series consists of three files of correspondence and registration sheets.

Subseries VI.2: Health Professionals Network (HPN), 1974-1989

This series includes records related to the Health Professionals Network (HPN) and its predecessor groups, the Medical Capacity Committee (MCC), the Medical Group, and the Medical Committee. The MCC was formed in 1977 to work on the examination and treatment of torture victims, but expanded to coordinate all medical issues in AIUSA. The records include correspondence, minutes, medical letter-writing actions, newsletters and medicine and human rights issues. The series also includes files on countries that consist mainly of memos, urgent actions, and other material distributed by the International Secretariat.

Subseries VI.3: Legal Support Network (LSN), 1982-1995

The Legal Support Network (LSN) is a group of lawyers that assist Amnesty International in its human rights work and advocate on issues and areas of concern to the legal community. Their work includes advocating for fair trials, torture, human rights treaties, and imprisoned legal professionals, and providing legal advice and assisting with legal work related to asylum cases, refugees, and the death penalty. This series includes amicus briefs, correspondence, handbooks, minutes, monthly mailings, urgent actions, and subject files on activities related to abolishing the death penalty, campaigns, countries, letter-writing actions, refugees, and torture.

Series VII: Campaign and Country Files , 1972-1997

This series contains files on both countries and country-specific campaigns and actions.

Subseries VII.1: Bill Woolis Files, 1979-1983

Bill Woolis was the Campaign and Membership Coordinator for AIUSA. His records include files on issues, meetings, activities, and group participation in campaigns.

Subseries VII.2: Country Campaigns and Country Files, 1972-1997

The records include files on both countries and country-related campaigns and actions undertaken by Amnesty International. The campaign records include background materials, clippings, correspondence, mailings with information and instructions for AIUSA groups, meeting notes and reports, memoranda, news releases, planning materials, recommended actions, reports, updates, and urgent actions.

Subseries VII.3: Other Campaigns and Supporting Files, 1979-1995

This subseries contains files on issue campaigns undertaken by Amnesty International. The material includes correspondence, mailings with information and instructions for AIUSA groups, memoranda, reports, news releases, and planning materials.

A large portion of the material is related to campaigns against the death penalty, particularly in the United States. This material includes country-specific files related to South Africa, the former USSR, and the United States. The United States files include files on individual capital cases, and files on efforts to prevent the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York State in the 1990s. The series also contains the files of Death Penalty Program Coordinator Charles Fulwood (1979-1988). Although these files cover a range of subjects, most of the material is related to the Amnesty International’s work to abolish the death penalty.

The subseries includes campaign material and subject files related to women’s issues. These files include country files and material related to actions, a book proposal, campaigns, and mailings to the AIUSA National Women’s Steering Committee (1991-1995).

The subseries also includes materials on campaigns related to covenant ratifications on human rights issues, disappearances, and torture.

Series VIII: Closed Cases, 1974-1983

ACCESS TO THE CASE FILES IN THIS RECORD GROUP IS RESTRICTED FOR 75 YEARS.

These records consist of case files for released prisoners of conscience. The files include communications between Amnesty International offices and local groups, dossiers, guidelines, and reports on case activities from local groups. Some files also include correspondence generated and received by the local groups in the course of their work on cases.

From 1975-1978, case files were assigned numbers and filed chronologically. After 1978, closed case files were filed by region and then alphabetically by country and surname. There are two sets of these alphabetical files - the main set, and a smaller second set that is filed in the last two boxes. When known, the number of the local group responsible for the case is identified in the finding aid. Several files were labeled as "good quote cases” and may have been used as material for publication or publicity efforts.

In general, additional information on cases would be found in office files on local groups, and within the records of both local groups and country coordination groups.

Series IX: Communications Department/Media Relations Files, 1973-1997

This series contains the files of Communications Department. The records include correspondence, material related to publicity efforts, and subject files on campaigns, countries, events, issues, special projects. The records group also includes general publicity files of clippings and news-releases that were issued or maintained by the department.

Subseries IX.1: Larry Cox Files, 1973-1982

Prior to becoming the Executive Director of AIUSA in 2006, Larry Cox also worked for AIUSA from 1976-1984. During this time, he established the Program to Abolish the Death Penalty, and then served as AIUSA’s first Press and Information Officer. His files include correspondence, country files, press releases, subject files, and material on publicity efforts.

There are additional files related to Larry Cox’s work in Series II.2: Gerard Elston Files. Those files include correspondence, press releases, and a press guide for adoption guides.

Subseries IX.2: Country Files, 1975-1995

This subseries contains extensive files on countries and related issues. Much of this material consists of circulars, memos, news service items, press releases, reports, statements, urgent actions, and other material from Amnesty International. The files also contain clippings, correspondence, telexes, and other informational material.

Subseries IX.3: Press Files, 1982-1987

These records appear to be the files of Kathleen Smith and Mary Daly, the Director of Communications. Much of the material deals with promotional efforts, publicity, and issues related to the media. The records include background material, clippings, correspondence, letters to editors, information for press officers, news releases, op-ed pieces, and statements. The series includes files on countries, campaigns, events, issues, and the AIUSA Speakers Bureau (which organizes volunteer AIUSA speakers for events).

Subseries IX.4: Kathleen Smith Files, 1983-1986

These files include subject files on campaigns, events, publicity and media issues.

Subseries IX.5: Jacqui Hunt Files, 1984-1988

Jacqui Hunt was the National Press Officer for AIUSA during this period. Most of the material is related to press coverage and coordination for the Human Rights Now! Campaign and World Tour (1988). Other campaigns are also documented. Records related to Hunt's tenure as Director of Special Projects (1988-1991) are filed in Record Group X: Development Unit/Special Projects Files, 1986-1994.

Subseries IX.6: Charles Fulwood Files, 1987-1989

Charles Fulwood was the Director of Communications during this time period. Most of the material is related to the planning and coordination of the Human Rights Now! World Tour, and other special projects and video projects. Fulwood was also the Death Penalty Program Coordinator for AIUSA (circa 1979-1988) and subject files related to his work in that capacity are contained within Series VII: Campaign and Country Files--Subseries 3: Other Campaigns and Supporting Files, 1979-1995.

Subseries IX.7: Newspaper Clippings, 1981-1997

The files in this series consist of clippings received from clippings services in the United States. The articles contain direct references to Amnesty International. There are three sets of clipping files. These are arranged chronologically (1987-1995, 1997; Bulk is 1994-1995, 1997), geographically (1992-1997) and topically (1981, 1984, 1992-1997). There are two sets of topical clippings.

Subseries IX.8: AIUSA News Releases, 1986-1996

The subseries contains news releases issued by Amnesty International USA. The news releases are arranged chronologically through 1995. Many news releases are also filed individually after June 1995. Most files consist only of news releases, but some files also contain related reports, letters, and policy statements on media issues.

Subseries IX.9: AI News Service, 1992-1997

This series contains cover pages, news items, news releases, and general communications for press officers received from the Press Office of the International Secretariat (IS) in London. The files are arranged chronologically.

Subseries IX.10: Roger Rathman Files, 1988, 1991-1995

Rathman became the National Press Officer of Amnesty International USA in early 1993. Prior to this, he worked in a similar capacity for the organization in Los Angeles. The series includes files on campaigns, countries, issues, publicity efforts, and other subjects.

Subseries IX.11: Biographies and Contact Lists, 1993-1996

This subseries contains biographical files on various activists, speakers, staff, and members/candidates for the Board of Directors that appears to have been created by the Communications Department. The series also contains contact lists.

Series X: Development Unit/Special Projects Files, 1986-1994

This series contains records related to special events and other special projects. Most of the records relate to special concert events and tours, but there are some files related to film, television, and video projects.

Subseries X.1: Concert Tours, 1986-1988

This subseries includes files related to two concert tours - the Conspiracy of Hope Tour (1986) and the Human Rights Now! World Tour (1988). The files document the planning, organization, publicity, and events related to the concert tours. The records include budgets, clippings, correspondence, financial records, and legal documents such as contracts, incorporation records, and insurance certificates.

Subseries X.2: Jacqui Hunt Files, 1988-1991

Jacqui Hunt was the Director of Special Projects during this period. The records in this subseries are related to film, television, and video projects.

Subseries X.3: Concerts/Projects, 1990-1994

This subseries contains the files of Sarah Nall, Surita Sandosham, and Jacqui Hunt. Hunt and Nall were involved with special projects, while Sandosham worked as an In-House Counsel and Legal/Policy Advisor. The majority of the records are related to concert projects and the coordination of AIUSA information tables for popular music concert tours.

There are additional files on concert tabling in Subseries X.6: Concert Tabling, 1992-1994.

Subseries X.4: Chile Concert--An Embrace of Hope (Santiago), 1990

This subseries contains Sue Kulinyi's files on the "Embrace of Hope" concert event in Santiago, Chile. The files are related to the planning, organization, and financing of the concert and related video productions.

Subseries X.5: Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files (TNT), 1990

This subseries contains Sue Kulinyi's files on the Forgotten Prisoners: The Amnesty Files , a television movie shown on TNT on November 19, 1990. The film is a fictional account of human rights violations in Turkey and Amnesty International’s efforts to stop them. The film was directed and produced by Robert Greenwald, and Amnesty International consulted on the piece.

The files include correspondence, press releases, memoranda, news clippings, and a screenplay. The records document AIUSA’s involvement in the consulting work, and include material on the reaction to the finished film.

Subseries X.6: Concert Tabling, 1992-1994

This subseries contains Sue Kulinyi's files on the coordination of AIUSA information tables for popular music concert tours. There are additional files on this subject in Subseries X.3: Concerts/Projects, 1990-1994.

Series XI: Administration and Operation, 1966-1997

This series contains information on general operations and administrative issues.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least twenty-four (24) hours in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library Reading Room. Please consult the Rare Book and Manuscript Library for further information.

      offsite requestMore information and link to off-site request form

This collection has restrictions. Restrictions for boxes and folders are noted in the series descriptions and may also be found within the contents list.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from Amnesty International of the USA, Inc.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Amnesty International of the USA, Inc.: National Office Records, Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed 1998- Harvey N. Gardiner (University of Colorado at Boulder, 1998), Stéphane Hetherington, and Catherine N. Carson

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion March 5, 2009 Finding aid written in English.
    2009-03-05 File created.
    2009-04-16 xml doxument instance created by Patrick Lawlor

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

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Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Annual ReportsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
CorrespondencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
MinutesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
NotebooksPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Amnesty International USA.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Amnesty International USA.--Board of Directors.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Civil rights.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Fund raising.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Healey, Jack.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Human rights.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Membership campaigns.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Social rights.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Student movements.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Students--Political activity.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

Amnesty International (AI), an international human rights non-governmental organization (NGO), was founded in London by Peter Benenson in 1961. Benenson, a lawyer, had become concerned about the case of two students imprisoned in Portugal for toasting to freedom in a bar. He published an article in the London Observer on the case on May 28, 1961, and advocated the writing of letters to the Portuguese government demanding the release of the students. The response was extraordinary. The article was translated and reprinted internationally, and readers began sending letters and support not only to Benenson, but also to prisons and labor camps worldwide.

In July 1961, an international group of delegates met and decided to establish "a permanent international movement in defense of freedom of opinion and religion." Shortly thereafter, an office and library was established in London, staffed by volunteers. Affiliated letter-writing groups were initially established in the United Kingdom, West Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and Switzerland, and expanded the following year to Norway, Sweden, Demark, Belgium, Greece, Australia, Ireland and the United States. By the end of 1962, 210 prisoners had been adopted by 70 groups in 7 countries, and Amnesty International had sent missions to Ghana, Czechoslovakia, Portugal and East Germany. By 1970, the organization had expanded to 850 groups in 27 countries.

As the organization grew, a Research Bureau and the International Secretariat -- the central office that serves as the headquarters of the international organization -- were formally established in London in 1963. That same year, the International Executive Committee (IEC), which has overall responsibility for AI's affairs, was established under the aegis of Sean MacBride, an Irish human rights advocate. National organizational structures, or sections, were also established to coordinate work within countries under the leadership of the headquarters in London. The United States section (known as Amnesty International of the USA, Inc. or AIUSA), the largest in the organization, was incorporated in 1966.

The National Office was the United States section's main professional office until approximately the early 1970s. Additional regional and program offices were established throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Prior to 1981, the board of directors handled much of the daily administration of the section. After this time, the presence of an established professional structure allowed the board to focus more exclusively on policy issues. This expansion, professionalization, and a push for decentralization during the 1980s by allowed for the management of the section's work to expand beyond the National Office. The work of the section is carried out through the national office, regional offices, networks, country specialists (formerly known as country coordination groups or co-groups), student groups, and local groups. In addition, as the budget of the International Secretariat is financed by assessments on the national sections, AIUSA, as the largest section, provides a significant portion of the International Secretariat's budget.

In its early years, the main focus of Amnesty International's campaigns was to free prisoners of conscience. Within a short time, the organization's mandate expanded to include campaigning for prompt and fair trails for all political prisoners, to end extrajudicial executions and disappearances, and to abolish the death penalty, torture and other cruel treatment or punishment. The organization has always worked to bring perpetrators of these abuses to justice in accordance with international standards. Amnesty International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in 1977.

Amnesty International underwent tremendous growth during the 1980s. By 1985, there were 3,433 groups in 50 countries, and over 500,000 members. The organization also used music concerts to raise its profile and the awareness of human rights issues. In 1986, AIUSA organized the Conspiracy of Hope Tour in the United States, which included U2, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, Lou Reed, the Neville Brothers. In 1988, Amnesty International organized Human Rights Now! This tour, which coincided with the 40th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, went to 19 cities in 15 countries and was broadcast live on Human Rights Day. By 1990, Amnesty International had 700,000 members and over 6,000 groups in 70 countries.

Today, Amnesty International has over 2 million members, supports and subscribers in over 150 countries.

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