The aftermath of the Kansas City Massacre, when four law enforcement officers and their prisoner were gunned down outside Kansas City, Missouri’s Union Station on June 17, 1933.
"…the increase of crime is not from the increase of netural [sic] criminals, but the great increase of criminal opportunity afforded by the invention of the auto."
President Hoover established the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement in May 1929 in an effort to identify causes of criminal activity. Thousands of citizens wrote to George Wickersham, the commission’s chairman, to offer information and to express opinions about the causes of crime in the United States.
Letter from John E. Ayer, M. V., to the Crime and Law Enforcement Commission Citing the Automobile as Increasing Crime and Liquor Trafficking, 05/23/1929
From the Records of the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement
Plan of Alcatraz Prison Towers at the Dock and Power House, 1940
Fifty years ago today, the Federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963. Acquired by the Department of Justice in 1933, the federal prison opened in 1934. Over the course of its years in operation, the prison hosted such infamous figures as Al Capone, Robert Stroud (aka The Birdman), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Rafael Cancel Miranda. These plans for prison towers at the dock and power house were part of the overall modernization of the prison facilities undertaken in 1940.
These two men are wearing coats with special pockets designed to hide and steal documents.
Barry Landau and Jason Savedoff posed as researchers in order to steal documents from archives, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York.
On Thursday, March 7, Mitch Yockelson of the Archival Recovery Team and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Warwick will discuss the Landau case.
during the investigatioitems were seized as evidence, including priceless documents in the hand of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Dickens
Landau was sentenced seven years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy and theft of historical documents from cultural institutions in four states. Savedoff was sentenced to a year in prison.
For More Information:
Photograph of John Welshouse Affixed to Bertillon Measurement Card
The Bertillon Card for John Welshouse, an inmate of the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, states he was examined on January 26, 1914. A system of physical identification pre-dating the use of fingerprints, Bertillon Measurements used anthropometrics, such as the length and width of the head and the degree of forehead slope to create an individual’s unique profile. Welshouse’s file indicates that he was convicted in New Orleans, Louisiana for violation of the White Slave Act, although his sentence was later commuted.
Photograph of John L. McMonigle, 1/22/1913
The “mug shot” of Leavenworth inmate John L. McMonigle, register number 8468. McMonigle was convicted of selling Oleomargarine, colored to look like butter, without paying the 10¢ per pound tax. He spent nearly a year in prison for violating the Oleomargarine Act of August 2, 1886.
(Ed. note: corrected tax amount from $10 to 10¢)
Wright Brothers’ Flying Machine Patent, missing from the National Archives
December 17 is the anniversary of the Wright Brother’s historic first flight in 1903. For most, it’s a day to celebrate a pivotal milestone in aviation history. But here at the National Archives and at other archives, libraries, and museums it’s a reminder of the threat that cultural institutions face on a daily basis. The patent for the Wright Flyer is missing—presumed stolen—last seen in 1979, and it’s not the only item missing.
When such records are stolen —sometimes for resale on web auction sites— our shared history is lost and our ability to maintain accountability in our government is lessened. Together, with your help, we can return our cultural heritage to its rightful place.
For More Information:
- Help the National Archives Recover Lost & Stolen Documents
- US National Archives Archival Recovery Team on Facebook
via the AOTUS Blog: The Impact of Theft
John Dillinger was the nation’s top public enemy in 1934. He was charged in a string of bank robberies and for the murder of a police officer after being released from prison on parole for robbing a grocery store. Once again in police custody, Dillinger broke out of prison and fled the scene in a stolen car. He drove the car across state lines, violating the National Motor Vehicle Theft Act (a federal offense). The investigation was then turned over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This wanted poster was printed by the government in June 1934. Dillinger was located and surrounded by FBI agents at the Chicago Biograph Theater on July 22. Dillinger reached for his gun, and was shot and killed at the scene.
FBI Wanted Poster of John Dillinger, 06/25/1934, Publications of the U.S. Government (ARC 306713)
June 17 - Break-in at the Watergate
During the early hours of June 17, 1972, Frank Wills was the security guard on duty at the Watergate office complex in Washington, DC. This log shows that at 1:47 a.m. he called the police, who arrested five burglars inside the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. Investigation into the break-in exposed a trail of abuses that led to the highest levels of the Nixon administration and ultimately to the President himself.
Chart Showing a Day of Television Programming in Chicago, 09/16/1954
An exhibit from the Senate Judiciary Special Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency during its investigation on the effect of television programming on juvenile delinquency.
June 11 - Order to Arrest John Dillinger
Dated June 11, 1934, this arrest warrant was issued by the United States District Court for the Hammond District for the Western Division of Indiana for the apprehension of John Dillinger for auto theft in Crown Point, Indiana. Bail was set for $25,000. The warrant lists Dillinger’s many aliases, including John Hall, John Donovan Hall, Clarence Cruse, Joseph J. Harris, J. H. Donovan, and Kirtly.