D.C. Gigs: Investigator Seeks Priceless Artifacts


Aah, after all this chat about food -- I'm serious. my stomach really is starting to rumble a bit and I suspect I'm not alone. So let's pause on all this nattering about noshing for just a bit and turn to one of our favorite monthly segments, "D.C. Gigs." This time around, we visit the world of artifact theft. Special Agent Kelly Maltagliani has a very particular mission to seek down our nation's treasures. Her job with the National Archives is part "Antiques Road Show," part "CSI" and all very hard work. Producer Mark Adams caught up with her at the Civil War Collector's Show in Gettysburg, Pa.


My name is Kelly Maltagliani. I'm a Special Agent in charge of the Archival Recovery Team at the National Archives under the office of Inspector General. I'm a criminal investigator and I do regular criminal investigations, but I also focus on historical documents and artifacts that are stolen from the National Archives. I've been doing this job at the National Archives for about nine years now. I remember the first day that I received a Lincoln pardon in the mail and held it in my hand realizing I held the same document that Abraham Lincoln held.


Right then, I realized the value of what the documents the Archives have for people. It's a connection with history that you can't get from seeing the printed document, from reading something on the internet. It's actually touching and connecting with history so we're always looking for anything that would belong to the Archives. We're missing the Wright Brothers flying patent. We're missing maps of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of the target maps. We're missing a page from Eli Whitney's patent of the cotton gin. Whatever somebody's interested in is what they might take from us.


We're at the Gettysburg Civil War show. There's two of them during the year. Collectors and dealers come here and show their wares. They're selling to each other and to private individuals. Hi, Steve. How're you doing today? How's the show going for you?


Oh, it's going great. It's nice to see you again.


You, too. We come here and look at the documents to see if there's anything that jumps out at us and we often discuss those things with the dealer and let them know what we're working for. We are not here covertly. We're here to talk to the dealers and get to know them and let them know what we're doing. So Dave, have a lot of people coming by today to our booth?


Been a few people coming by -- very interested in what we do. They've been asking a lot of good questions. That family, the Romano family that deals with a lot of the historic photographs, they were telling me that they were able to find an original photograph and then they were able to find the corps badge from that individual's unit and they were able to match that up with the photograph.


So there's another one that has some photographs and she's not aware of what we do so I told her I'd bring by a brochure and some business cards. I've always wanted to be a criminal investigator and I love being a criminal investigator. At the end of the day, you feel really good about what you do and you feel like you make a difference.


That was Kelly Maltagliani speaking with producer Mark Adams. If you have a distinctively D.C. gig you think we should feature on the show, let us know. Our email address is And FYI, this story came to us through WAMU's Public Insight Network. It's a way for people to share their experiences with us and a way for us to get input on stories we're working on. You can find more information about the Public Insight Network by visiting
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