22 May 2010

NARA: Secret agent man!

Did you know that the US National Archives has a specialist Archival Recovery Team staffed by special agents and an investigative archivist?

This Wall Street Journal story centered on the special team's activities to find lost documents. You can read the official press release here, with a quote from Archivist of the US David S. Ferriero:

"Thousands of researchers each year have access to our nation’s priceless documentary heritage, using original records at National Archives facilities across the nation. This allows American citizens to see for themselves the workings of the Federal government and the accountability of Federal officials. These priceless records must be protected and preserved.”

Remember the film "National Treasure"? Kind of like that without the cameras and the popcorn. The official team tracks down lost or stolen items. Their new weapon is a Facebook page.

The top entry on the page:

Each month the US National Archives Archival Recovery Team will feature an item (or related group of items) that we need your help to locate. Be sure to check back each month, as this album will be updated to reflect the range of missing items we are seeking to recover. This month’s featured National Treasures: Missing... Item-of-the-Month for May 2010 is the Wright Brother’s Flying Machine Patent, consisting of 35 documents, last seen at the US National Archives in 1979. Please take a look and notify the US National Archives Archival Recovery Team if you have any information regarding the patent file's whereabouts.
Over the years, items have disappeared including Whitney's cotton-gin patent drawing, the Wright brothers' "flying machine" application and more.

Other missing items include presidential Civil War correspondence, telegrams, and objects such as swords, daggers, portraits and presidential class rings. View images and descriptions of the missing items.

Read the WSJ article at the first link above, and visit the Recovery Team's Facebook page.

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