To catch a thief at the National Archives
The unusual crime began to unravel last September, when Dean Thomas of Gettysburg, Pa., had the sensation of déjà vu while reading an eBay offer for three Civil War documents from 1861 and 1862 that his brother was bidding on for him. Thomas, who publishes Civil War and American Revolution history books, got up from his desk and looked into one of his many black binders, the one that holds the letters he photocopied some 20 years earlier at the Philly National Archives. There, he found the same ones he was seeing on eBay, being sold by a private seller, “hchapel.” His brother won the bid on a Sunday night and the purchase went through for $298.88. Payment was to be delivered to Denning McTague of Philadelphia; his full address and contact information clearly printed. “It wasn’t very secretive,” says Thomas.
The next morning he called up an acquaintance at the archives and asked if there was a sale of original documents under way. There wasn’t, so Thomas called up the Archives’ Inspector General’s office. A quick search revealed that 164 documents were missing, and soon the National Archives Archival Recovery Team (ART) got to work. Like most of McTague’s other eBay clients, Thomas quickly returned his letters. Only three documents are still missing.
comments powered by Disqus
- King Tut had overbite, club foot because his parents were brother and sister
- Prehistoric humans were far smarter than previously assumed
- Priests race to save manuscripts from jihadists in Iraq
- Where Mud Is Archaeological Gold, Russian History Grew on Trees
- Conflict Uncovers a Ukrainian Identity Crisis Over Deep Russian Roots
- Highlights of the recent Oral History Association Meeting
- Rick Perlstein response to Sam Tanenhaus's complaint that he's an aggregator
- Thai historian faces charges for daring to challenge a story about a royal king
- It's Rick Perlstein vs. Judith Stein in a Three Round Fight
- Park Honan, a Biographer of Authors, Is Dead at 86