To Whom Do You Owe What You Hold?

I have to admit ......I was a bit disappointed with some recent findings I pulled up from my emails with FBI families. Specifically, those who had fathers and grandfathers serve during the early Bureau of the 20s and 30s. All of them originally contacted me after finding this site. Mostly all of them commented that they were happy to see that those who pioneered the early Bureau were not going to be forgotten. 

My decision to review these emails was a result of one thing. A simple 8 x 11 photo I received from one family which answered a slew of questions. The sender, who obtained the photo on Ebay, then commented, "...makes you wonder how much of this 'stuff' is out there?"  Indeed it does....the answer is "a lot." 

What I counted in those emails that are now over a year old caused some sad reflection. Thirteen families mentioned they had photos and various documents of their relative's service with the Bureau during those very early days; very germane to this website and our viewers. In each one of them, there was a pledge to furnish some relevant material for inclusion here. Those pledges lost steam as the weeks and months went on. 

I knew the material ....if nothing but a mere photo.....would provide needed accuracy to the history of the Bureau's beginning and turbulent years. I knew there was a chance some of it would dispel the myths and the rumors.  Importantly, I knew what they had would assist other families searching for info on their relatives. I knew all of this because I've seen it here a hundred times over. I've lost count of the number of comments I've had from authors to movie producers who have raved about the Bureau history supplied by the families and how the information has assisted them with some much needed evidence of the era. 

Well, it didn't take long for the reality to set in.  That's when I realized that of the thirteen who have history sitting in boxes in their basements, only two....yes, just two.....came through and supplied some very interesting items that now appear here.  A couple of letters supplied by one donor, written by J. Edgar Hoover to his father, actually solved a decades old debate on one aspect of the arrest of gangster, Alvin Karpis. Case closed!

In one unfortunate scenario, one individual presented proof he had a manuscript written by a Southwestern FBI, SAC during his retirement years. The donor was willing to provide a copy of the manuscript for history sake and inclusion at this site. When I discussed with the owner how important that document was, and the SAC's role in the 1930s gang war, he contacted a lawyer and the smell of money was no doubt in the air. All of a sudden, he no longer could provide it. I had bad news for him; any thoughts of money, publishing rights and the rest was a pipe dream!  This incident by the way is now over four years old and he's still holding the manuscript where it supposedly sits somewhere in a barn according to family.   

In general, re-contact with those who pledged to furnish copies of family photos and papers germane to this site revealed a common denominator of which we're all familiar. It was always along the lines of "I'm sorry, I've been busy with (fill in everything you can think of)."  Ok. I get it.  But leaving the items wasting away in the basement sure isn't helping to maintain FBI history and the organization your relatives served.  And if you're proud of your heritage and your relative's service to their country, letting their photos and personal papers sit in a box is not the way to do it! If you don't want to supply copies to us here, at least contact the local library, the Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, the FBI's current Historian, or whomever.....but get that information into the hands of someone who can share the history you are holding with others.

Share it so some other family in the dark might learn from something you hold.  Share it so historians, movie moguls, authors and more will tell the story accurately.  Share it so others will learn...