An Ignoble Profession

The business of forging George Washington’s signature and correspondence to sell to unwitting buyers goes back 150 years

As the editor of the papers of George Washington at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, I have the privilege of intersecting with many people who come bearing documents supposedly signed by the first president. More often than you might think, I have the unenviable task of informing them that their letter‚ often lovingly framed and passed down for decades in their family is a fake. An office file, which we've marked "Forgeries," overflows with dozens of similar examples.Read more »

America’s Most Famous Letter

Abraham Lincoln signed it. A lot of scholars say he didn’t write it. Now, newly discovered evidence helps solve an enduring mystery.

In a records box in a back office in a house in the hills of Vermont, six letters about Abraham Lincoln’s famous “letter to the Widow Bixby” lay unknown and undisturbed. For how long is uncertain, although this author’s fingerprints made last March were the only ones visible in the thick chalky dust of years.Read more »

The Churchill-Roosevelt Forgeries

The campaign to revise Hitler’s reputation has gone on for 50 years, but there’s another strategy now. Some of it is built on the work of the head of the Gestapo—who may have enjoyed a comfortable retirement in America.

RECENTLY, ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, the American public has been made aware of evidence of plagiarism practiced, alas, by celebrated American historians. This is regrettable, but nothing new. All kinds of writers have borrowed and, worse, stolen from others through the ages. Plagiarism is a forgery of sorts, a little like the forging of a signature on a work of art. Other forgeries are less easily detectable. Moreover, the purposes of a historian’s plagiarism and of a historical forgery are different.Read more »

A Remarkable Bamboozler

I note on page 112 of the December 1963 AMERICAN HERITAGE a broadside referring to Bishop Talbot’s visit to Wallace, Idaho. Regrettably I must inform you that you have been taken in by a forgery committed by that remarkable old bamboozler and pioneer printer, Thomas J. Easterwood of Dundee, Oregon, whose papers it has fallen my lot to administer until they are made available for public use in 1970. Read more »