Tom Lowry Vs. the National Archives: Where’s the Email?

by Brett Schulte on February 25, 2011 · 8 comments

Historian Brooks Simpson at Crossroads today raised some good points here and here regarding Tom Lowry’s denial of National Archives accusations against him.  One key question is whether or not the National Archives tried to contact Dr. Lowry prior to knocking on his door one January morning.  Lowry says they did not at all contact him.  The NARA indicated in a press release that not only did they contact Dr. Lowry, but that he was also grew “reticent” during what was presumably more than one exchange back and forth of emails.  So where are these emails NARA?  Do you have them?  If so, produce them.  If not, Lowry’s case just got a lot stronger.  As Brooks mentions, this story is not going away any time soon, and it has the potential to get ugly for one or both parties.  I’m interested in the truth, as I have no dog in this fight.  If enough of us raise a stink in the Civil War blogosphere and other online outlets, maybe we’ll get closer to some real answers here.


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

John Koster February 26, 2011 at 6:48 am

Excellent question. If the NARA has an extensive record of trying to contact Dr. Lowry, let’s have a look at it. If not, Dr. Lowry’s solid personal reputation and that fact that a polygraph test has already shown him to be honest when he denied forging the document would substantiate his version.


Dick Stanley February 26, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Polygraph tests aren’t worth the, uh, tape they’re printed on. Even their adherents admit their results depend on such things as who administers them and how the questions are structured. But, in the end, they’re on par with hypnotism, which the cops also like to use, and are just as inadmissible in court as Dr. Mesmer’s showpiece.


John Koster March 1, 2011 at 7:40 am

What’s worth the tape? The word of a couple of federal officials against a man many of us know to be honest and generous? Americans today believe there was no warning about Pearl Harbor — except that newspapers had run front-page stories about a war in the Pacific for a week before the actual attack, and these newspaper copies still exist. How many people on the federal payroll tripped over themselves covering up My Lai? What about the Norfolk Four, innocent sailors who signed bogus confessions under pressure from a police detective who was just convicted of extortion and lying to the FBI and got 12.5 years in prison? If I didn’t know Dr. Lowry, I too might have bought into this forgery story. Let’s see the paper trail of all the letters they say they sent him. And let’s see the federal guys take a polygraph.


Tom Lowry March 20, 2011 at 8:26 am

Readers have asked, “Where are the e-mails?” Here is the answer. First, the accusation. From the Washington Post: “Investigators said they began corresponding with Lowry about the pardon about a year ago and asked for his help in identifying who might have tampered with it. During the course of the e-mail correspondence, Lowry became more reticent, and they became more suspicious.” Under the Freedom of Information Act, I obtained the two e-mails sent to me by Mitchell Yockelson, Investigative Archivist, Office of the Inspector General. On 9/14/2010 he wrote “Tom, Is this your correct e-mail? If so, I have some questions for you about court martial files.” I replied that the address was correct, adding “I hope I can help.”. Sixty-four minutes later, Yockelson wrote again. “I am not sure if you are aware, but I no longer work in reference For the past few years I have worked for our Inspector General’s office looking for lost, stolen, or as we call it, alienated records. In any case my partner and I, Dave Berry, have been working on a complaint about a court martial that contains [a] Lincoln signature and the contents of the endorsement appears to have been altered. It is way to[o] complicated to explain by e-mail, but I would love the opportunity to visit you in person to discuss the matter. I have told Dave a lot about you and your books and he is anxious to meet you. Do you still live in Woodbridge?” I confirmed that I still lived in Woodbridge. (Same address, phone, and e-mail for thirteen years.) The TOCWOC reader can decide if I was being “reticent” or evasive. There is certainly not a hint that I was considered a suspect.


Brett Schulte March 20, 2011 at 9:48 am


I’d be interested in seeing the exact text of your emails, even if devoid of any real interesting text, to gauge for myself what extent you grew “reticent”.



Tom Lowry March 20, 2011 at 9:56 am


I can put the exact texts into a PDF. Can I have your actual eamil address?

Mine is


Brett Schulte March 20, 2011 at 10:21 am


I sent you a private email with my email address. I don’t like to publicly give out my email address due to spammers.



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