National Archives Honors Pennsylvania Brothers for Helping to Recover Stolen Documents
Press Release · Friday, May 11, 2007
Washington, DC…Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein honored two Pennsylvania brothers, Dean Thomas and Jim Thomas, in a ceremony today for assisting the National Archives in recovering stolen Civil War documents.
In presenting the brothers with certificates of appreciation and facsimiles of some of the stolen documents, Professor Weinstein said, “The National Archives has a great responsibility to keep the nation’s documents safe and secure, but we can’t do this without the public’s help. When private citizens such as the Thomas brothers join us in this effort--it’s extraordinary. If you help the government recover stolen documents, others will follow. You set a good example.”
The brothers, book publishers in Gettysburg, PA, saw documents up for sale on eBay in September 2006. Dean Thomas recognized them as ones he had seen and photocopied while researching at the National Archives Philadelphia Regional Archives 20 years ago. Mr. Thomas immediately contacted the National Archives, which began an investigation of the thefts. The investigation led to the arrest of former National Archives intern Denning McTague. 164 documents were stolen by Mr. McTague. The investigation is ongoing with 161 recovered to date. Mr. McTague will be sentenced on July 12, 2007.
At the ceremony, National Archives Inspector General Paul Brachfeld presented the Thomas brothers with special paper weights encapsulating original pieces of Civil War era red tape. “It just doesn’t get any better for us. You are models for other citizens to follow and we hope it will encourage others to help the government recover alienated documents,” Mr. Brachfeld said.
While accepting the gifts of appreciation, Dean Thomas said “All I can tell you is, ‘if it’s not yours don’t take it.’
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