National Archives hunts for missing treasures with recovery team





FRANKLIN, TENN. - Among the Civil War buffs wandering through the tables of muskets and faded daguerreotypes of Union soldiers for sale here are four federal agents.

One raids houses and carries a gun. But right now he's handing out innocuous-looking brochures to the relic hunters walking by, as the sweet smell of glazed nuts wafts from a concession stand. "Does that document belong in the National Archives?" the brochure asks.

The agents have flown to a fairground outside Nashville to the country's biggest Civil War show to hunt for stolen treasure - robbed right from the nation's attic.

Whether they know it or not, the dealers may be trafficking in stolen government property. The heist may have taken place in 1865. Or last week. Or a document may not have been looted at all, but made its way into private hands instead of the Archives.

With the Civil War 150th anniversary drawing new interest, the trail could be warm.

"We're friendly," says Paul Brachfeld, inspector general of the Archives, who has gotten out of the office this December weekend to see his team in action. For the dealers, "it's an authenticity thing," he says. "If you traffic in stolen documents, it taints everything."...

comments powered by Disqus
History News Network