Missing From the Museum: National Archives and Records Administration Recovery Site

By Carla Charter

Among the items missing from museums nationwide, include those missing from National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). These missing items have an on-line prescence as well, in the hopes that this will make their recovery more likely.Mitch Yockelson Investigative Archivist for NARA, explained NARA the recovery program was started under the Office of Inspector General in 2006.

The majority of missing items are documents including the oldest missing items, several of George Washington’s signed documents as well as Presidential Pardons from Rutherford B. Hayes. Missing artifacts include dog tags, a portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and musical sound recordings.

Also missing are target maps from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “Those were not stolen but borrowed by the Air Force and we never got them back, presumably they have been misplaced,” according to Yockelson.

Recoveries of documents and other items are also made. “Among the most memorable recoveries was the Wright Brothers Flying patent missing since 2003. We did not know if it was stolen, misfiled or destroyed. They were discovered misfiled by other investigators,  with other Wright Brothers documents,” Yockelson added.

Quite a few items have been recovered. “We receive tips all the time from people who have seen something for sale on e-bays or at auctions. Items that have been alienated from the archives,” he said adding “It is important to get these missing items back as they belong to the American People. Those interested in viewing the missing items can visit the site at www.archives.gov/research/recovery.  Anyone with information on the missing items can contact NARA Recovery at missingdocuments@nara.gov or call 301-837-3153.