Tom Lowry Vs. the National Archives: An Emailgate Answer?

by Brett Schulte on March 20, 2011 · 3 comments

First, a short primer.  Earlier this year, historian Tom Lowry was accused of altering a Lincoln pardon letter by the National Archives, who claimed Lowry grew “reticent” during what I assumed was a string of emails.  Lowry denied this accusation at a new blog, saying he had never been contacted about the pardon and had never changed his home phone or email address in over a decade.

I wondered aloud at the time where these emails were, as the actual text of such emails would shed some light on this matter.  In a comment on this earlier post, Tom Lowry writes that he has obtained the text of this email string through the Freedom of Information Act.  The contents of the two emails as Dr. Lowry posted them are repeated in full below:

Email #1 (from Mitchell Yockelson, Investigative Archivist, Office of the Inspector General, 9/14/2010): “Tom, Is this your correct e-mail? If so, I have some questions for you about court martial files.”

[Lowry] replied that the address was correct, adding “I hope I can help.”

Email #2 (from Mitchell Yockelson, Investigative Archivist, Office of the Inspector General, 9/14/2010, 64 minutes after the first email): “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?”

[Lowry] confirmed that I still lived in Woodbridge. (Same address, phone, and e-mail for thirteen years.)

In a follow-up comment, I asked Tom to provide the full text of his two replies for the record.  I wonder if the National Archives tried in any other way to contact Dr. Lowry about this matter other than through Mitchell Yockelson.  This one grows stranger and stranger every day.  What do you think?


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