updated 1/17/2007 4:42:48 PM ET 2007-01-17T21:42:48

Anyone interested in finding out who the FBI was investigating before it became the FBI or seeing the works of noted Civil War photographer Mathew Brady will soon be able to do so digitally.

Footnote Inc. already has digitized 4.5 million pages of historical records and recently signed an agreement with the National Archives to digitize millions more.

Initially, subscriptions cost $99.95 annually, $9.95 monthly or $1.99 per image through Footnote's Web site. Digitized materials will be available for free by Feb. 6 at two facilities in the Washington area and at regional locations in 11 states, according to Archives' spokeswoman Laura Diachenko.

After five years, all images digitized through the agreement will be available for free on the National Archives Web site.

Footnote, based in Lindon, Utah, already has posted Brady's photographs and Bureau of Investigation case files from 1908 through 1922, when it was tasked with investigating violations of national banking, bankruptcy, naturalization, antitrust and land fraud laws. When the nation entered World War I in 1917, the bureau acquired additional espionage and sabotage responsibilities. It did not officially become the FBI until 1935.

The next batch of materials to be brought into the Digital Age will be the Archives' sizable collection of materials currently on microfilm, according to the agency.

But the agreement with Footnote is "non-exclusive," which means the Archives can make similar deals with other companies, like it did recently with Google Inc. to digitize some films, Diachenko said.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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