Coming This Sunday: 60 Minutes Will Air Segment About “Historical Treasures” Missing From National Archives
UPDATE 10/28: Here’s video of the complete 60 Minutes report along with a link to the text transcript and additional material from 60 Minutes Overtime.
Precious historical artifacts like the Wright Brothers airplane patent, the bombing maps for the nuclear attack on Japan, the original eyewitness radio report of the Hindenburg disaster and photos taken by the astronauts on the moon are just some of the items stolen from our National Archives. So much of our past has been pocketed by thieves that the National Archives has formed a recovery team to get them back. Bob Simon reports on this alarming trend — and the conman now serving seven years in prison for the largest theft of historic artifacts in U.S. history.
Some of the items are back where they belong, like the Hindenburg recording and the space photos. Recovering the stolen artifacts is the job of people like Mitch Yockelson of the National Archives Archival Recovery Team. “We’re missing the Wright Brothers patent. That would thrill me to no end to recover the patent for the Flying Machine of 1903,” Yockelson tells Simon. Nobody knows when it was stolen. “We discovered it was missing in 2003.”
The armed recovery team, which chases stolen artifacts along with the FBI, was formed by the National Archives’ Inspector General Paul Brachfeld. With a rise in thefts in libraries, historical societies and in the 44 separate archives throughout the country, it was time. “Every institution now that has collections is threatened. We all know that there is a major threat and it’s getting larger,” says Brachfeld.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.