July 13, 2011

Stealing History, Again!

Landau's Mugshot
I do many more posts on things like this than I would really like to. It's horrible, but yet another researcher has been stealing historical documents from a museum. Saturday, Baltimore Police arrested Barry Landau and accomplice, Jason Savedoff, for the theft of over 60 documents from the Maryland Historical Society. The documents included Lincoln memorabilia, notably a document signed by Lincoln. The current total for the known stolen material is over $900,000.

Landau, is a presidential historian who boasted of his Manhattan home artifact collection that topped a million pieces.  

The day of the heist, Landau brought cupcakes for the museum staff, who claimed that Landau and Savedoff had visited the museum previously and had odd behavior. Now the FBI has to discover the extent of the thefts and hopefully recover all stolen material. Landau, like Thomas P. Lowry who was charged for altering a Lincoln-signed document back in January, has a book in the works due for release in a few months.

It is frustrating for historians to not have access to documents because of stuff like this. It is even more frustrating to not be able to find a document because it has been stolen. Unfortunately, original sources have to be referable. It is amazing how easily mistakes can happen in a historical work which are then amplified in future historical works that never checked the original documents. Hopefully, the digitization of documents will help alleviate problems with theft.     

Watch a video from the Huffington Post.


  1. It is amazing what people will do for a quick buck! It's disgusting and I hope he pays for it. Those are America's treasures. They need to be there for future generations.

  2. I hope museums will heighten their security. I'm sure lower profile thefts happen all of the time.

  3. I know, stuff like this drives me nuts! It makes it harder for honest people to do research.

  4. The question is "why?" Why do people do this? Greenfield Village used to allow visitors to go upstairs in the Wright Bros. home until a few items wound up missing. How sad...
    I wrote a post on Lowry that you may or may not have read:


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