Document Forgery Problems Examined at Conference

Article excerpt

Recent discoveries of forged historical documents in a number of Texas libraries a November 1989 conference on the subject AL asked Kathleen Gunning, of Houston assistant director for services and collection development, to report.

THE DISCOVERY OF A NUMBER of forgeries of important documents from Texas history prompted the University of Houston libraries to sponsor the Houston conference on Forged Documents, held 24, 1989. The conference drew more 200 librarians, dealers, collectors, and

W. Thomas Tyler, a printer and dealer Austin who uncovered more than 50 forgeries in Texas libraries and museums, including the Texas Declaration of Independence and William Travis' letter from the Alamo, identified a pattern to the forgeries:

* An item which had been very rare becomes less rare;

* direct evidence of the document's provenance is lacking;

* and the first locatable owners are a number of dealers.

Taylor stated his belief that many of the forgeries were copied from documents stolen from the Texas State Library in the 1960s.

Conference keynote speaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry expressed his concern that segments of the rare book community were "flirting with disgrace," because of a reluctance to treat forgery as a serious crime. …