Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Lincoln Documents Returned to National Archives

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on September 7, 2011

Here’s a rather notable video segment about a dealer in historical documents who, upon being notified that a document he’d sold had been missing from a file held by the National Archives, took active steps to see that it was returned.

I’ve been to too many collections, and asked to see too many documents listed in the catalog, only to find a note in the folder that reads, “Missing since [date].” The theft of materials from archives — with shrinking staff and often poor security — is a terrible problem. I’ve long believed that a not-insignificant proportion of the documents market is made up from material gone missing from archives, and especially so with autographs — whole letters can often be traced back to their source, but a signature excised from a larger document cannot.

As retired National Archives Civil War Subject Specialist Mike Musick notes in the video, there’s no way to know when the original theft in this case occurred; it may have happened while the documents were still under the stewardship of the War Department, decades ago. No matter; what’s important is that the material is back where it belongs.

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One Response

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  1. Mike Musick said, on September 9, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Andy, thanks for calling attention to autograph and manuscript dealer Bill Panagopulos’s public-spirited return of these documents to the national patrimony.


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