The fonds spans the time period from 1969 to 1989 and appears to cover the administrative organization of AICS (ES) at both the local and international levels until ca. 1980/81 when Group 4 became virtually dormant and Ferguson's involvement at the national level lessened. Although Group 4 reactivated in March 1983, Ferguson did not run for an executive position and thus there are fewer files, especially after 1985, when Group 4 relinquished the operation of the greeting card campaign.
Apparently it was AICS (ES) policy to request the return of prisoner files to the National Office "for shredding" after the release of the prisoner. Therefore there are only a few complete prisoner files, making it difficult to obtain a clear understanding of the way in which Group 4 acted on behalf of prisoners of conscience.
The fonds has been arranged into three subgroups. Subgroup I consists of secretarial files deposited by Janet Adams which date from 1979/80 and contains minutes, information concerning annual general meetings, etc. Some duplication with Ferguson's files exists; however, much of Ferguson's papers were annotated and thus Adams' "clean" copies were retained. The early secretarial records of 1969/70 to 1978/79 and the treasurer's records of 1974/75 to 1986/87 were found interfiled with Ferguson's records. However, the processor decided to place them in Subgroup I as it appears that they had been given to him for safekeeping purposes and were not integrated with his other records.
Examination of Ferguson's records indicate that he created new subject files annually and, for any given year, national and local records were filed together. Although it was tempting to separate the records into a national subgroup and a local subgroup, it was determined this would not only destroy original order, but also fail to adequately illustrate the breadth of activities in which Ferguson participated in any given year. Therefore, in Subgroup II Laing Ferguson's records are arranged into six series which represent the various offices he held over time, and one series which holds various Amnesty International publications which were found loose in the cartons. Publications of bodies other then Amnesty International were discarded. Records of a housekeeping nature were found among "Finances" and the "Fund Raising Greeting Card Campaign" subseries and were discarded unless they contained other relevant information. In most cases, financial summaries and distribution charts exist that summarize the housekeeping records. Duplicates existed in many files and, if not annotated, were discarded.
Subgroup III consists of records created by Janet Adams in her capacity as member of the Nominating Committee for the years 1974/75 and 1976/77. These files were well organized and arranged chronologically.