QUESTION: FOIA for 1970s org that was under FBI surveillance?

question / pregunta: 

Hello, and thank you in advance for your help!

I am writing a history of the prostitutes' rights movement of the 1970s. (Today, some prefer to call it the sex workers' rights movement.) The national movement launched in San Francisco, 1973, by Margo St. James and COYOTE, and then took off in cities across the country. I am focusing, in particular, on PUMA, the Prostitutes Union of Massachusetts, in Boston, which was active under that name roughly from 1975 to 1984.

I have interviewed dozens of women from the movement in the course of my research, and many believe that they were under FBI surveillance. However, I have filed two FOIA requests and have been repeatedly informed that there are no records related to my search terms (prostitutes' rights, prostitutes, Margo St. James, PUMA, etc). I have sent my requests to the local FBI office in Boston and in DC.

Can you please help me figure out what I'm doing wrong, and how to craft a better request letter? I saw the awesome DIY FOIA letter on your website, but perhaps there are other federal organizations I should be requesting from? Or different search requests? I want to cast as wide a net as possible, but I truly have no idea how the bureaucracy works.

Thank you again, I wish you a peaceful new year.

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