National Archives Thief Sentenced to 7 Years

Press Release from the National Archives:

Barry Landau Sentenced to 7 Years for Thefts From National Archives, Other Institutions

Washington, DC . . . U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake yesterday sentenced Barry H. Landau to seven years in prison, and three years of supervised release, for conspiracy and theft of historical documents from cultural institutions in four states, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.

The items stolen from the Roosevelt Library, which is part of the National Archives and Records Administration, were seven “reading copies” of speeches that Roosevelt delivered. They contained his edits and handwritten additions, along with his signature. They have all been recovered.

Landau’s co-conspirator, Jason Savedoff, will be sentenced at a later date.

Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said he was pleased that Judge Blake “recognized the seriousness of this crime and meted out an appropriate punishment that will serve as a warning to others who may contemplate stealing our nation’s history.”

“There is a very special bond that forms between researchers and research institutions. It’s kind of like an insider’s club. We speak the same language, share the same interests, explore the same minute details of historical knowledge that will eventually fill in the fabric of our shared history as a nation,” the Archivist added.

“When a researcher turns out to be a thief and steals the documents that are the very underpinnings of our democracy, our trust and respect for the community is shaken. Barry Landau is just that thief. Dressed in the guise of a scholar, he ingratiated himself with our staff and stole priceless documents from the Franklin Roosevelt Library. In essence he robbed from all of us—our collective history. And he did far worse damage to numerous other research institutions around the country.”

The Archivist said that because of incidents such as those involving Landau, the National Archives and other research institutions around the world have become more vigilant over the last few decades. They have instituted a number of measures aimed at preventing theft, such as closed-circuit cameras, clean research room rules, exit searches, and increased staff surveillance.

“When a theft does occur, we rely on the Office of the Inspector General and the Justice Department to build a case and bring the perpetrator to justice,” he added. “I want to thank them for their hard work.”

Lynn Bassanese, Acting Director of the Roosevelt Library, recalled that when Roosevelt dedicated his library on June 30, 1941, he declared it an “act of faith” in the American people.

“Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff violated that faith by taking advantage of the trust and confidence that the Roosevelt Library’s staff has for its researchers,” she said.”With the successful return of the stolen documents, the Roosevelt Library renews its commitment to protect and preserve the records of the Roosevelt Presidency and to make them accessible to the American people for generations to come.”

According to Landau’s plea agreement, the “reading copies” of Roosevelt’s speeches were stolen when he and Savedoff visited the Roosevelt Library on December 2, 2010.

“Reading copies” are the actual copies of the speeches from which the President read. They contain edits and handwritten additions made by him and bear his signature.

Four of these “reading copies” of speeches were sold by Landau on December 20, 2010, to a collector for $35,000. Three other “reading copies” of inaugural addresses delivered by Roosevelt, valued at more than $100,000 each, were recovered from Landau’s apartment in New York City during court-authorized searches, including the water-stained reading copy of the inaugural address Roosevelt delivered in a steady rain in 1937.

Judge Blake also ordered Landau to pay restitution totaling $46,525 to three dealers who purchased the stolen documents from Landau, not knowing they were stolen. She also ordered Landau to forfeit all the documents recovered during searches of his New York apartment.

The National Archives and Records Administration is an independent Federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government, and the American people.

Social History for Genealogy and the Colored Farmers’ Alliance

Social history plays a significant role in successful genealogical research. The events of a particular time-frame shed new light on the lives of our ancestors and ultimately lead us to new finds. In this post, Gems Reader Trisha asks questions regarding her family’s ties to the Colored Farmers’ Alliance.

social history for genealogy

“The Colored Farmers’ Alliance.” NBC News. NBCUniversal Media. 29 July 2007. NBC Learn. Web. 22 January 2015.

Did a Member of the Family Belong to the Colored Farmers’ Alliance?

Our Genealogy Gems Editor, Sunny Morton, received the following email recently from Trisha:

I am researching my great-grandparents in Northeast Arkansas. The census records I have found so far list that my great-grandfather was a famer. So, I started looking up farming associations hoping that maybe he was a member and I could find out more information about him and possibly any relatives that lived nearby. I came across the Colored Farmers’ Alliance that was in existence from 1886- 1891 in the southern states, but I have only been able to find out basic general public information about this agency. Do you know if, or how, I can find an Arkansas member list or something similar? Any help or advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.

The History of the Colored Farmers’ Alliance

The Colored Farmers’ Alliance was formed in 1886 in the state of Texas. A group of southern African-American farmers had been barred membership to the other Farmers’ Alliances and hoped by creating this group, they would be able to cooperatively solve the common problems of its members. The group also encouraged African-American farmers to become economically independent by purchasing homes and eliminating debt. [“Colored Farmers’ Alliance,” The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (https://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/populism-and-agrarian-discontent/timeline-terms/colore : accessed 28 Oct 2016).]

The organization took off and spread across the Southern United States. It’s peak membership was up to 1.2 million in 1891. However, the organization did not survive long. In 1891, the Colored Farmers’ Alliance called a general strike of African-American cotton-pickers and demanded a wage increase from 50 cents to $1 per hundred pounds of cotton. The strike failed and the group dissolved. [“Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union,” Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colored_Farmers%27_National_Alliance_and_Cooperative_Union : accessed 28 Oct 2016).]

Pulling Together Some Answers

We pulled the whole team together for this one, and Sunny reached out to me regarding Trisha’s questions. In our initial research, we didn’t come across any references online to membership lists for any branch of the Colored Farmers’ Alliance, including Arkansas where Trisha’s ancestors lived. We did however find an article titled Preliminary research for writing a history of the Colored Farmers Alliance in the Populist movement: 1886-1896 by Omar Ali, written May 11, 1998, which states:
“Little detail is known about individual members of the Colored Farmers Alliance, including its leadership.”
That may not be surprising considering that the organization was attempting to improve member’s situations and fight for better pay. It’s possible that members may not have wished to be named due to concerns about repercussions. It would be important to learn more about the organization and the political and historical environment in which it operated in order to determine the probability of membership rolls existing or surviving.
While not everything is online (by any stretch of the imagination,) the web is the best place to do further homework to track down offline resources. Trisha could start by contacting the Arkansas State Library, and then exploring these search results from WorldCat.org which include a variety of works on the subject. It would also be very worthwhile to spend some time digging into the wide range of online resources such as Google buy syphilis medication Books and the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America digital newspaper collection. Let’s do that now!

Google Books

A search of colored farmers alliance delivers several results on the topic. Use search operators to help Google deliver even better results, by putting quotation marks around the search phrase “colored farmers alliance.” This instructs Google to return only web pages that contain that exact phrase. You’ll find more Google search strategies in my book The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, which also includes an entire chapter on using Google Books for genealogy.

Here’s an example of one book I found called The Agrarian Crusade: A Chronicle of the Farmer in Politics by Solon J. Buck (1920).

 

Click here to see the entire search results list for the search query Colored Farmers Alliance in Google Books.

While I didn’t discover any references to actual member names beyond some of the leaders, Google Books certainly offers more depth and history on the Alliance.

Digitized Newspapers

colored farmers alliance

Indian chieftain., March 03, 1892, Image 1 at the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America.
(The Indian Chieftan was published in Vinita, Indian Territory [Okla.]) 1882-1902

While only a small fraction of newspapers published throughout history are digitized and online, what can be found offers a wealth of information. The Library of Congress’ Chronicling America offers an excellent cache of searchable newspapers for free. Subscription websites such as Ancestry’s Newspapers.com and Newsbank’s GenealogyBank offer real value if the newspaper you seek is held within their collections.
Since Chronicling America is free, that’s a good place to start. At the main search page, click the Advanced Search tab. On that page, you will have the option to search by state, publication, and dates. Under “Enter Search” fields, there are three options. Type the phrase colored farmers alliance into the “with the phrase” field. That will narrow the search results down to newpaper pages that include the entire phrase and will eliminate pages that have some or all of the words independent of each other. A search of all states for that phrase delivers over 325 digitized newspaper pages featuring articles that include that phrase.
At Newspapers.com, I found dozens of references as well, many from Arkansas newspapers. I also noticed that several individuals wrote and signed letters to the editor on the subject.

For more help on researching newspapers for genealogy, listen to my two part podcast series titled “Find Your Family History in Newspapers, Part 1 and Part 2.”

colored farmers alliance

members named

Google Scholar

Google Scholar offers not only well-researched works on a given subject, but also the ability to request only results with source citations. These citations not only help you weigh the accuracy and value of the paper, but provide intriguing new leads for research materials.
Using the same search operators as I did in Google Books, I retrieved over 175 results. To filter these results to only those with source citations, click the “include citations” box on the search page at the bottom, left side.
google scholar search for colored farmers alliance
The savvy genealogist will also want to experiment with variations on the query by adding words and phrases such as members included, members list, list of members, and so on.

YouTube

Since I devoted another chapter of my book to using another free Google tool, YouTube, I would be remiss if I didn’t run a quick search at the video giant website. Here is a link to the video I found online.

It’s amazing what the family historian can discover from the comfort of their own computer. With so many valuable resources discovered through an online search, a well-prepared trip to the library or archive will prove even more fruitful.

Pin It on Pinterest

MENU