Federal agents are on the hunt for national treasures that have gone missing from 44 government facilities and presidential archives. The agents are showing up at Civil War shows and employees’ homes looking for such things as Abraham Lincoln telegrams, Lyndon Johnson’s Coast Guard class ring, and target maps for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, The Washington Post reports
The effort is being undertaken by a special Archival Recovery Team operating out of the National Archives’ Office of the Inspector General. The move was undertaken to address lax security, the Post said.
Inspector General Paul Brachfeld
has assigned eight of his 24 agents to the team to look for missing items. "For a long time we were defenseless, and senior managers just accepted that," he said, according to the Post.
The collection includes 10 billion items such as letters, photographs, recordings, and maps, housed in facilities from the Washington to the Reagan Library in California. Brachfeld told the Post that an item-by-item inventory has never been taken, likening such a task as “counting grains of sand.”
Some of the team’s successes include recovering such things as a map of Cuba with President John F. Kennedy’s hand-written notes in the margin, President Ronald Reagan’s high school year book taken by an employee of the presidential library, and a Lincoln letter that turned up in a private collection in Arizona.
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