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What is a “barso”? (ref. Richard Cocks' diaries)

What is a “barso”? (ref. Richard Cocks' diaries)


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Question

In his diaries documenting his time in Japan, Richard Cocks mentions barsos frequently, apparently meaning some kind of liquid containing vessel (mostly in reference to [gifts of] alcohol, but occasionally vinagre and other liquids). This word unusually is not included in the footnotes explaining almost every foreign term that he uses (mostly Japanese, with a few Portuguese and Spanish).

Does anyone know the etymology of this word?

Example usage:

October 28.-Goresanos wife brought her doughter of 20 daies ould to the English howse, with a present of a barsoe of wyne, figges, and oringes, desiring a name to be given her, which was per consent Elizabeth.


Note: In his diaries, wine is described as also coming in bottel, barica/barrico, barell/barrill/barille, butt and jarr. Specifically Spanish wine is never described as coming in barsos (it is most commonly described as coming in bottells, and occasionally in barica/barricos, barrels or butts). This might suggest that barsos weren't European made vessels, and were a kind encountered in Japan?


Data from diaries:


The meaning of "barso" is clearer than its origin. Samuli Kaislaniemi analyzed it in his PhD thesis Reconstructing Merchant Multilingualism : Lexical Studies of Early English East India Company Correspondence, p. 256:

RC uses barso in the sense 'little barrel' (cf. Farrington 1991:805). Etymology uncertain; does not appear in PD It., Pt., or Sp. (cf. barrillo, barrilejo); the phonology is not Japanese. Possibly a pseudo-Romance word arising from playful use of language?

In his diary, RC also used barica [… ]; Hill (1993) defines barrico as 'keg' (s.v.). The measures for barsos and "greate barelles" letters [sic] (Farrington 1991:803-805) reveal that a barso held c. 10 litres.

This rare word does not appear at all in Merchants of Innovation: The Languages of Traders. Perhaps Cocks invented it.


My immediate assumption was that it was an anglicisation of Spanish vaso (pronounced/'baso/), meaning 'cup/glass/drinking vessel', since he also anglicises Spanish recado (message) as recardo:

“Copendale at Miaco not very well, and that he bringeth recardo from themperour to set Damian and Jno. de Lievana free.”

Further evidence that it may be Spanish in origin is that he similarly excludes the Spanish word barica/barrico from his section “Some Japanese and other foreign words and terms”, presumably because he assumed such words would be intelligible to his audience.


Sources:

Diary of Richard Cocks Vol. I, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan 1615-1622, with Correspondence
Diary of Richard Cocks Vol. II, Cape-Merchant in the English Factory in Japan 1615-1622, with Correspondence


Barso is from medieval Portuguese barça meaning "small barrel":

Second word: “xxij barsos of singe”

The other word I couldn't find the root of occurs in the same letters as “singe”: where “singe” is the liquid, “barsos” are the containers. It's quite clear from the context that a “barso” is a small barrel - from other sources it's possible to determine that a “barso” holds c.10 litres. But the etymology evaded me: I couldn't find “barso” in any form in Present-Day Portuguese or Spanish dictionaries, and despite the apparent connection to other words meaning 'cask' such as barrel, but also barrillo, barillejo, and barrico, the lack of evidence made me put my hands up.

Once again, Yoshida (1993: 59) comes to the rescue. On the same page as discussed above, his list continues to section B, 酒屋, 酒造道具, 製造工程など 'sake shop/brewery, sake production tools, manufacturing process etc'. And number 9 in this list is as follows:

In English:

(9) saka-oke (saca uoqe) a container for sake, like an oke [barrel] or a taru [cask] (barça).

In fine, then: it seems quite evident that barça was a common Portuguese word for a (small) barrel or a cask.


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He Slept With Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy—And Changed Hollywood History

Scotty Bowers ran a brothel out of a gas station and slept with dozens of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Inside his ‘Secret History of Hollywood’ and why we should believe his stories.

Kevin Fallon

Senior Entertainment Reporter

About 45 minutes into the new documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, the most unbelievable monologue you’ll ever hear is delivered. And it’s all true. Allegedly.

“I fucked Bette Davis in World War II when she was married to a guy. I used to fix her up with tricks, and we used to have three-way deals. I went to bed with J. Edgar Hoover. He was in drag. He was not a great beauty either, you know, but I was treating him just like he was a girl.”

Scotty Bowers, now 95 and more than 60 years past his prime as the so-called “pimp to the stars,” grins mischievously as he loosens the tap, continuing his deluge of secrets.

“One day Cary Grant was in the gas station and Rock Hudson just happened to be there, so Cary Grant picked him up. I fixed him up with Rock for 20 bucks, and Rock saw him several times. This is before Rock had any movie. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, I never tricked them together. I would fix them up with guys, and then I would see her at Gary Cooper’s house. She would come in and quietly open the gate and be like, ‘Shh.’ Ten minutes later I’m fucking her and she’s screaming.”

After spending two years following Bowers for the cinema verité-style documentary about the gregarious former sex worker, filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer laughs, summarizing the unique and actually profound appeal of the subject of his movie.

“This is someone who seems to have just not been hit with the shame stick and not burdened with feelings of guilt,” Tyrnauer says, speaking over coffee at Manhattan’s NoMad Hotel the week before the film’s release. “He didn’t have that instilled. He seemed to live an exemplary life in terms of being free of shame and guilt. That could be a lesson for all of us.”

Perhaps unexpectedly, lessons abound in Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood. Tyrnauer began filming Bowers following the release of his memoir, Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars, a juicy tell-all recounting his time operating a brothel, of sorts, out of a gas station on Hollywood Boulevard starting in the late 1940s and finally retiring decades later, during the AIDS crisis.

As Bowers tells it, he slept with Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh, Cary Grant, and the Duke of Windsor—the abdicated King Edward VIII. The list of stars he allegedly set up with prostitutes reads like a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Tennessee Williams, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, Katharine Hepburn, Gloria Swanson, Noël Coward, Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, and more.

When Bowers released his book, essentially outing Grant, Tracy, and Hepburn, among others, as gay or bisexual, critics ranging from casual readers to Barbara Walters blasted him for spreading salacious stories about long-dead subjects who couldn’t defend themselves or question their veracity. That was out of respect, Bowers claims. They weren’t his secrets to tell when they were alive, but now that they’re gone, he thinks they can’t hurt them.

But now that Tyrnauer is giving Bowers another platform, similar criticisms are being aired again. In a New York Times piece about Tyrnauer and the film, noted film scholar Jeanine Basinger—who happened to be the chair of Tyrnauer’s film school and clashed with him there—verbally scoffs about the documentary’s pursuit. “This is a perfect example of the expression, ‘people need to get a life,’” she says. “Personally, I’m more interested in the work of these people than their possible off-screen shenanigans.”

As several entertainment journalists, including Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur and Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, were quick to point out on Twitter, that opinion is horseshit.

Tyrnauer suspects Basinger didn’t see the film, especially since she seems to ignore its entire point.

The reason Bowers has stories to tell is because these actors were captives of a Hollywood studio system that weaponized moral clauses, contractually preventing them from living their authentic lives. “They were victims of a certain kind of persecution,” Tyrnauer says. They went to Scotty because paying sex workers was their only option, especially for people like Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, whose same-sex escapades were at odds with the heteronormative images of them manufactured by studios.

To claim to be interested in that era of Hollywood but not in the ways that these actors navigated their sexuality is insane. It’s not gossip. It’s biography. It’s anthropology. It’s our history.

“For some reason our culture is willing to dismiss the full biographies of all of these characters as being shenanigans,” Tyrnauer says. “Take Caravaggio, for instance. If you’re an art scholar, do you just want to know what Caravaggio was up to in the painting studio? Don’t you want to know what Caravaggio was up to when he wasn’t holding a paintbrush? Is that not relevant to who Caravaggio was? So why do we dismiss details about what Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy were up to off-screen?”

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood isn’t a tell-all. Tyrnauer calls it an alternative history of one of the most important times in our country’s history, the story of Hollywood and the image machine, which changed the way we all perceive ourselves and the world. Looking at the Hollywood system and the image factory through the lens of a sex worker to the stars couldn’t be more relevant.

“If Scotty had been operating a brothel out of a gas station in Des Moines, Iowa, it would be a fun, interesting, maybe relevant story, but it wouldn’t have the operatic location and narrative that this movie has,” Tyrnauer says.

Criticizing Bowers’ stories as trivial compared to these actors’ on-screen work ignores the fact that their private lives were often scripted by studios and they were forced to perform those narratives in order to continue that on-screen work. More, it fosters a delusion that moral clauses don’t still exist, if not literally in contracts, then inherently in an industry that forces known gay actors to perform heterosexuality in order to further their careers.

The same people who dismiss stories about Hollywood and sex as irrelevant are the ones who erupt in outrage at the insinuation that these actors had same-sex sexual relationships and that these stories are being told when they’re not alive to speak to them. It illustrates the reluctance to admit how deeply and seriously we are all affected and influenced by Hollywood and its players.

“The book was dismissed as a tell-all, however it was a best-seller,” Tyrnauer says. “So there’s the contradiction.”

Now to briefly dismount from our high horse, here’s another reason the book was a best-seller. The stories are wild. And so is this movie.

Bowers was just out of the Marines when he moved to Hollywood and got a job working at the Richfield gas station at 5777 Hollywood Boulevard. One afternoon, the Oscar-nominated actor Walter Pidgeon drove up. “What’s a nice guy like you doing working at a gas station?” he asked Bowers, inviting him to come home with him to swim in his pool. They did much more than that, and, seeing an opportunity, he began “tricking,” as he calls it, eventually hiring other former Marines as sex workers.

“Everything was 20 bucks,” Bowers says. “I would say to my friends, ‘I’m gonna fix you up with a trick and all the guy’s gonna do is take and suck your cock. It’s the same as if your girl was sucking your cock. If you want to close your eyes and think it’s her sucking your cock, do.’ ‘OK, I’ll do it once. Well, once, twice…’”

He tricked with Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, who were lovers, Bowers says, but told people they were just living as roommates. Bowers says he’s been with them both individually, together as a threesome, and with a fourth for paired group sex. He says he had a three-way at Frank Sinatra’s house with Ava Gardner and Lana Turner. He would arrange men for the former King Edward VIII to sleep with— “he sucked me off like a pro”—and women for the mistress he abdicated the throne for, Wallis Simpson, to sleep with.

He estimates that he fixed Katharine Hepburn up with more than 150 women over the course of 39 years. Cole Porter once requested that Bowers set him up with 15 men at once. “I want to suck 15 guys off, one after another,” he said.

“Why shouldn’t Cole Porter have a voracious sexual appetite?” Tyrnauer says, when I ask if he thinks people would have an easier time believing Bowers’ stories if they weren’t so outrageous. “I don’t know if he did or not, but why would I find that unbelievable?” He laughs. “There’s a wonderful Cole Porter song, ‘Too Darn Hot’ where one of the lyrics is ‘a Marine for his queen’ and ‘a G.I. for his cutie pie.’ I’m thinking maybe Scotty is his Marine.”

Through all of this, Bowers was never treated like a madame. To people like George Cukor, the legendary director of The Philadelphia Story and My Fair Lady, he was considered a friend. That ended up being his key to earning the trust of the biggest names in show business, with the most to lose if these secrets were ever outed.

“Are these stories substantiable? My answer is yes, very much so,” Tyrnauer says. Should now take it as fact that the likes of Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy, and Katharine Hepburn had same-sex sexual relationships? He doesn’t flinch: “Yes.”

Considering that Tyrnauer purports to be correcting history with this film and the facts of that correction are largely from the mouth of one person, Bowers’ reliability as a narrator was obviously important to him.

Gore Vidal ended up being an important source for Tyrnauer, who counts the famed writer as a personal friend. Vidal was a client and then friend of Bowers, but his “very active carnal life,” as Tyrnauer calls it, wasn’t included in Bowers’s book. The reason: Vidal was still alive. (One of Vidal’s last public outings was to the book’s release party.) Independently, Vidal and Bowers confided in Tyrnauer stories about each other and about that time at the gas station, and the stories all checked out.

Several of the sex workers Bowers employed are also still alive, and Tyrnauer interviewed them for the documentary. They all verified Bowers’s accounts, some on camera. One even still had an index card Bowers had made with the contact information of a dozen men who were interested in sexual services. “A smoking gun,” Tyrnauer calls it. One of the men on the card was still alive, and confirmed Bowers’ stories to Tyrnauer, too. All of this was in addition to the work a team of researchers did to fact-check many of Bowers’ anecdotes.

Scotty Bowers didn’t kiss and tell when these people were alive. But he kissed, sucked, fucked, and is telling us now that these people are dead.

The instinct to disbelieve him is unfortunate, given how these sex lives give us a much greater insight into the reality of an industry that shaped our culture. At a time when there still is not an out gay or lesbian movie star starring as the lead in blockbusters, and people still debate whether an out gay or lesbian actor could be believable as a romantic lead, the fact that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, two iconic romantic leads, had same-sex relationships is illuminating.

It’s prudent to see Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood to recognize that. The fact that it’s so dishy and sex-filled—Tyrnauer includes vintage nude photos and sex films that Bowers stars in—is icing on the cake.

“For Scotty Bowers, sex is a fact of life. It’s not avoided. So to make a movie that avoided sex and explicit nudity just wouldn’t have made sense,” he says. “Plus, who doesn’t want sex on screen? We all want a little sex. It keeps you interested. Scotty was really hot as a young man. He was just undeniably hot. Why not show some skin?”


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Dancing at Weddings, at Fairs, and at Home

For those colonists unable to afford either dancing lessons or assembly dues, what were the options for enjoying social dancing? Weddings, court days, log rollings, house raisings, corn shuckings, harvestings, and fairs provided festive occasions when any citizen could join in a host of popular entertainments—including dancing. As Julia Spruill has noted, "The dances on these occasions were not the minuets and country dances enjoyed by more polite society but three- and four-handed reels and jigs" (pp. 110–111). While guests at an elite assembly often danced to music provided by a small orchestra, or at least a French horn, harpsichord, and violins, the informal gatherings of the colonies' less wealthy citizens were more likely to rely on a bagpipe or a group of fiddles (or even a single one) to provide musical accompaniment.

Not surprisingly, the steps at these less formal gatherings rarely conformed exactly to those outlined in Playford's or Weaver's guides. Historian Bruce Daniels has observed that most New England colonists drew their folk dancing traditions from English rural dances, and suggests that these country-dances (or "contra dances," as they came to be known by the end of the century) were the most prevalent form in prewar Massachusetts and Connecticut. Northerners found the country-dance more respectable, disdaining the French minuet as symptomatic of French (i.e., Popish) degeneracy. New Englanders also objected to Irish jigs (which, it should be noted, were different from the French adaptation of gigue mentioned above). They derided the native Irish jigs as wild and uncontrolled, and associated them with lewd or aggressive behavior. Although most jigs had their roots in Irish or sailors' folk culture, some eighteenth-century observers described jigs as having the appearance of "Negro dances."


Records of the Panama Canal

Established: Panama Canal Commission, as an independent agency, effective October 1, 1979, by the Panama Canal Act of 1979 (93 Stat. 452), September 27, 1979, superseding the Canal Zone Government and the Panama Canal Company.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Nicaragua
  • Interoceanic Canal Commission (U.S., 1872-76)
  • Provisional Interoceanic Canal Society (1881)
  • Nicaragua Canal Association (1887)
  • Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua (U.S. charter, 1889-93)
  • Nicaragua Canal Board (U.S., 1895)
  • Nicaragua Canal Commission (U.S., 1897-99)
    Nicaragua-Panama
  • First Isthmian Canal Commission (U.S., 1899-1902)
    Panama
  • Panama Railroad Company (NY charter, 1849-1951)
  • Societe Civile Internationale du Canal Interoceanique (French, 1876)
  • Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique (French, 1881-89)
  • Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama (French, 1894-1904)
  • Second Isthmian Canal Commission (U.S., 1904-14)
  • The Panama Canal (U.S., 1914-51)
  • Canal Zone Government (U.S., 1951-79)
  • Panama Canal Company (U.S., 1951-79)

Finding Aids: James B. Rhoads, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Cartographic Records of the Panama Canal, PI 91 (1956) Richard W. Giroux, comp., and Garry D. Ryan, rev., Preliminary Inventory of the Textual Records of the Panama Canal, PI 153 (1963) supplement in National Archives microfiche edition of preliminary inventories.

185.2 RECORDS OF THE PANAMA RAILROAD COMPANY
1848-1958

History: Incorporated by the New York State legislature, April 7, 1849, to build and operate a railroad across the isthmus of Panama. Acquired by Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique, 1881, and by Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, 1894. Purchased by the United States as part of the assets of Compagnie Nouvelle, April 23, 1904, under authority of the Panama Canal (Spooner) Act of 1902 (32 Stat. 481), June 28, 1902. Reincorporated by the United States as the operating arm of The Panama Canal by the Panama Canal Railroad Company Act (62 Stat. 1076), June 29, 1948. Renamed the Panama Canal Company by act of September 26, 1950 (64 Stat. 1038). Superseded by the Panama Canal Commission, 1979. SEE 185.1.

Textual Records: Minutes of meetings of the board of directors, 1849-1938, and of the executive and finance committee, 1849-1904. Microfilm copy of board minutes of the Panama Railroad Company, 1938-51 (2 rolls). Letters sent, 1849-1904. General correspondence and administrative files, 1888-1920, with card index. Selected records from general correspondence and administrative files, 1920-53. Selected records from the administrative correspondence file of the Executive Office, letter files, and the closed and open correspondence file, 1931-58. Microfilm index to New York office records, 1918-49 (13 rolls). Stock registers, 1854-1914. Cancelled stock certificates, 1851-1948, with gaps. Miscellaneous legal and fiscal records, 1848-1916.

Photographs (375 images): Panama Railroad Company collection of French canal scenes and scenes along the railroad from Aspenwall to Panama City, 1880-1905 (R). SEE ALSO 185.13.

Related Records: Records of early Panama Railroad Company real estate transactions in records of the Joint Land Commission files, under 185.7. Record copies of publications of the Panama Railroad Company in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

185.3 RECORDS OF THE COMPAGNIE UNIVERSELLE DU CANAL INTEROCEANIQUE AND THE COMPAGNIE NOUVELLE DU CANAL DE PANAMA
1879-1904

History: Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique incorporated under French law, March 3, 1881. Declared bankrupt and dissolved by Tribunal Civil de la Seine, February 4, 1889. Assets and property vested in Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, incorporated October 20, 1894. Compagnie Nouvelle purchased by the United States, April 23, 1904, under authority of the Panama Canal (Spooner) Act of 1902 (32 Stat. 481).

Textual Records: General records, 1879-1904.

Maps (7,834 items): General maps of the Panama Canal route, 1881- 1900 (154 items). Detailed maps and plans of the canal, 1881-97 (6,790 items). Cross sections, profiles, and area maps, 1889-95 (493 items). Excavation profiles, 1897 (85 items). Sectional maps, 1899 (46 items). Published maps and portfolios of the Technical Committee, 1899 (44 items). Maps of Lago de Alhajuela and Lago de Bohio, 1898 (12 items). Area maps, 1894-99 (50 items). Fluviographs showing river levels at several stations, 1884-99 (160 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Engineering Plans (16 items): French railroad equipment apparently used at the canal site, 1887. SEE ALSO 185.10.

Photographs (27 images): Construction activities of the Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique, 1881-88 (F). SEE ALSO 185.13.

Related Records: Issuances, 1880-89, and hydrographic and meteorological records, 1892-99, of the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, under 185.5.1 and 185.5.3.

185.4 RECORDS OF THE NICARAGUA CANAL BOARD AND THE NICARAGUA CANAL COMMISSION
1895-99

History: Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua, chartered by U.S. Congress, February 20, 1889, assumed the concession to build a canal across Nicaragua originally assigned to the Nicaragua Canal Association, 1887. Operations suspended for lack of funds, 1893. Nicaragua Canal Board, also known as the Ludlow Commission after its chairman, Col. William Ludlow, appointed by President Grover Cleveland, April 25, 1895, to ascertain the feasibility of completing the Nicaragua Ship Canal begun by the Maritime Canal Company. Board report, October 31, 1895, recommended a thorough reexamination of the route. President William McKinley appointed the Nicaragua Canal Commission (first Walker Commission), under Rear Adm. John G. Walker, July 29, 1897, which surveyed the route of the canal, December 1897-February 1899, and submitted its report in March 1899.

Textual Records: Papers of the Nicaragua Canal Board, 1895. Papers, 1897 fiscal correspondence, 1898-99 estimates of construction costs, 1897-99 field notes of surveying parties, 1897-98 and hydrographic and meteorologic records, 1898, of the Nicaragua Canal Commission.

Maps (447 items): Published and manuscript maps, profiles, and cross sections of surveys of projected canal routes across Nicaragua profiles of dams, embankments, and wasteways and harbor plans for Greytown (San Juan del Norte) and Brito, 1895-99 (447 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Related Records: Hydrologic and meteorologic observations of the Maritime Canal Company and the Nicaragua Canal Commission, 1887- 93 and additional field notebooks of the Nicaragua Canal Commission, 1898-99, under 185.5.2. Record copies of publications of the Maritime Canal Company and the Nicaragua Canal Commission in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

185.5 RECORDS OF THE FIRST ISTHMIAN CANAL COMMISSION (SECOND WALKER COMMISSION)
1880-1904

History: Appointed, June 10, 1899, to investigate the most practical route for an interoceanic canal under U.S. ownership and control. Surveyed routes through Nicaragua, Panama, and the Isthmus of Darien. Initially (Nov. 1901) recommended the Nicaraguan route, but upon offer of liquidator of the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama in December 1901 to sell its assets and rights to the United States for $40 million, issued a supplemental report, January 18, 1902, recommending the adoption of the Panama route.

185.5.1 Records of the Washington, DC, Headquarters

Textual Records: Telegrams and cablegrams, 1899-1904. Estimates of construction costs, 1900-1. Issuances of the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, 1880-89.

Maps (125 items): Canal lock construction plans, 1900-4 (24 items). Maps and other materials relating to the proposed canal routes the effect of an isthmian canal upon trade routes, industry, and natural resources and the harbor of Greytown, Nicaragua, assembled to accompany the report of the commission, 1901 (88 items). Cross sections of locks for the proposed Nicaragua and Panama canals, to accompany the appendixes to the commission report, 1901 (13 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Related Records: Record copies of publications of the first Isthmian Canal Commission in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

185.5.2 Records relating to the Nicaragua route

Textual Records: Letters sent and received by the chief engineer of surveys, 1899-1901. Letters sent by the boring superintendent, 1899-1901. Weekly boring reports, 1899-1901. Journals of boring and surveying parties, 1900-1. Correspondence and miscellaneous records of the commissary officer, 1900-1. Registers of supplies, 1898-99. Letters sent and received by the engineer and assistant engineer, Middle Division, 1899-1901. Field notebooks of surveys, 1898-1901, including some initiated by the Nicaragua Canal Commission, 1898-99. Hydrographic and meteorologic records, 1887- 1901, including hydrologic and meteorologic observations made by the Nicaragua Canal Commission and a few observations by its predecessor, the Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua.

Maps (870 items): Manuscript and blueprint maps, cross sections, and profiles of the Nicaragua canal route, 1899-1900 (240 items). Manuscript and published maps, and manuscript profiles and cross sections, of the Eastern Division (304 items), Middle Division (196 items), and Western Division (84 items), of the Nicaragua canal route, 1899-1901. Manuscript bore hole location maps, and boring profiles and cross sections, 1899-1901 (46 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

185.5.3 Records relating to the Panama route

Textual Records: Field notes of surveys, 1899-1901. Hydrographic and meteorological records, 1892-1901, including records compiled by the Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama, 1892-99.

Maps (178 items): Manuscript maps, profiles, and cross sections of the Panama canal route, 1899-1901 (158 items). Manuscript bore hole location maps, and boring profiles and cross sections, 1899- 1901 (20 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

185.5.4 Records relating to the Darien route

Textual Records: Field notes of surveys, 1899-1901.

Maps (96 items): Manuscript and blueprint maps, and manuscript profiles and cross sections, of surveys of routes through Darien and San Blas, 1899-1901. SEE ALSO 185.10.

185.6 RECORDS OF THE SECOND ISTHMIAN CANAL COMMISSION
1904-16

History: Appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt, March 8, 1904. By Presidential order, May 9, 1904, under authority of the Panama Canal Act of 1902 (32 Stat. 481), June 28, 1902, and the Panama Canal Act of 1904 (33 Stat. 429), April 28, 1904, Secretary of War made supervisor of canal construction and second Isthmian Canal Commission vested with all Canal Zone government power. Abolished, effective April 1, 1914, by EO 1885, January 27, 1914, pursuant to the Panama Canal Act of 1912 (37 Stat. 560), May 24, 1912, with governmental functions assumed by permanent organization designated as The Panama Canal. SEE 185.7.

Textual Records: General correspondence, 1904-14 (186 ft.). Annual reports and monthly reports, 1904-14. Weekly progress reports, 1904-10. Daily statistical reports, 1912-16.

Maps (15 items): Plans of canal lock construction, 1912 (9 items). Colored plates published by the commission showing the route of the Panama Canal and the topography of adjacent areas, 1913 (6 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Photographs (647 images): Construction of the Panama Canal's Pacific terminals, east breakwater works, Cristobal Coaling Plant Works, and the operation of floating cranes, 1911-16 (HR). SEE ALSO 185.13.

185.7 RECORDS OF THE PANAMA CANAL
1851-1960 (bulk 1904-60)

History: Established under the direction of the Secretary of War, by EO 1885, January 27, 1914, effective April 1, 1914, as a permanent government of the Canal Zone and as operating agency for the Panama Canal, superseding the second Isthmian Canal Commission. Secretary of the Army superseded Secretary of War as supervising agent for the United States by EO 10101, January 31, 1950. By an act of September 26, 1950 (64 Stat. 1038), effective July 1, 1951, The Panama Canal was abolished, its civil government functions were assigned to the Canal Zone Government, and its operating functions were transferred to the Panama Railroad Company, redesignated the Panama Canal Company.

Textual Records: General correspondence (Washington Office), 1904-49. General records, 1914-60 (1,248 ft.). File classification system index, n.d., to general records, 1914-60. Microfilm cards containing information on pre-1914 records that were redesignated according to the 1921 file scheme ("Removal File Cards"), n.d. (5 rolls). Records removed from the general correspondence of the second Isthmian Canal Commission and the general records of The Panama Canal, 1904-60, and arranged alphabetically by name of subject ("Alpha Files") or by name of individual ("99 Files"). Governors' circulars, 1914-51, with microfilm copy (2 rolls). Monthly reports of operating units, 1914-50. Annual reports, 1914-50. Minutes of meetings between the Panamanian commissioners and representatives of the State Department relating to the negotiation of the 1936 Treaty, 1934-36 and minute enclosures to 1936 Treaty Negotiations, 1934-36. Records of the Joint Land Commission, 1851-1933. Third Locks Project reports, 1942-45 (in Atlanta). Records of the Special Engineering Division (in Atlanta), including reports relating to the Third Locks Project, 1938-54 isthmian canal study memorandums, 1940's report, prepared pursuant to the Panama Canal Investigation Act (59 Stat. 663), December 28, 1945, on increasing the capacity and security of the canal, 1947 specifications for construction of the New Gatun Locks, 1941-43 and reports, papers, and proceedings from outside sources relating to the Panama Canal, 1946-48.

Maps (67 items): Maps and plans of canal locks, 1931. (6 items). Maps and blueprints from the Joint Land Commission files, 1851-1933 (61 items). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Architectural and Engineering Plans (17,225 items): Battery Alexander MacKenzie, Balboa Heights, CZ, 1917 (18 items). Lock designs, in folios, with accompanying reports, 1943-44 (17,200 items, in Atlanta). Third Locks Project, to accompany a report (Jan. 17, 1944) to the Secretary of War, 1943-44 (7 items, in Atlanta). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Photographs (14,898 images): Operation and development of the Panama Canal Zone, 1938-60 (CZ, 7,800 images). Activities from the Isthmian Canal Studies. 1946-48 (ICS, 1,500 images). Special projects and events at the Panama Canal, 1906-60 (SP, 5,598 images). SEE ALSO 185.13.

Photographs (14,898 images): Operation and development of the Panama Canal Zone, 1938-60 (CZ, 7,800 images). Activities from the Isthmian Canal Studies. 1946-48 (ICS, 1,500 images). Special projects and events at the Panama Canal, 1906-60 (SP, 5,598 images). SEE ALSO 185.13.

Photographic Prints (10,625 images, in Atlanta): Gatun Locks relocation, 1940-43 (1,125 images, in Atlanta). Third locks projects, 1940-45 (TL, 9,500 images). SEE ALSO 185.13.

Photographic Negatives (4,500 images): Third locks projects, 1940-45 (TLN).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of The Panama Canal in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

185.8 RECORDS OF THE CANAL ZONE GOVERNMENT AND THE PANAMA CANAL COMPANY
1904-84

History: The Canal Zone Government and the Panama Railroad Company, renamed the Panama Canal Company, designated as the civil government and operating agency, respectively, of the Canal Zone and the Panama Canal, effective July 1, 1951, by an act of September 26, 1950 (64 Stat. 1038), replacing The Panama Canal. Superseded by the Panama Canal Commission, 1979. SEE 185.1.

Textual Records: Records of the Panama Canal Company Board of Directors, consisting of minutes, transcripts, and other records of meetings, 1948-78 correspondence and other records relating to individual board members and to operations of the company, 1948-79 and records of the Budget and Finance Committee, 1963- 79. Microfilm copy of subject index, n.d. (19 rolls), and a name- subject index, n.d. (10 rolls), to general records, 1904-79. Subject classification index, n.d., to general records postdating 1960. General correspondence (Washington Office), 1950-74. Personal correspondence of successive governors of the Panama Canal Zone, from George W. Goethals (1914-17) through Harold R. Parfitt (1975-79), including records of Goethals as Engineer-in- Chief and Chairman of the second Isthmian Canal Commission (1907- 14), with biographical sketches and background information, 1907- 81. Mixed files relating to contract laborers, 1905-37. General orders, 1951-61, with microfilm copy (1 roll). Executive regulations and transmittal sheets, 1951-66, with microfilm copy (2 rolls). Isthmian canal planning memorandums, 1947-67 (in Atlanta). Canal studies, 1963-78 (in Atlanta). Memorandums of the Office of Interoceanic Canal Studies, 1952-71 (in Atlanta). Canal widening project files, 1948-69 (in Atlanta). Correspondence relating to studies on a new nuclear-excavated canal, 1952-71 (in Atlanta). Sea level canal project engineering records, 1960-72 (in Atlanta). Records of the Office of the Executive Secretary relating to negotiations for the 1955 Treaty, 1953-55. Records relating to investigations by the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) into the Canal Zone riots of January 1964, including general correspondence, reports, and transcripts of hearings, 1964 and (in Atlanta) segregated politically sensitive correspondence and presentations before the OAS and ICJ, 1964. Monthly reports of operating units of the Canal Zone Government and the Panama Canal Company, 1951-60. Annual reports of the Canal Zone Government and the Panama Canal Company, 1951-59. Resolution establishing the Panama Canal Company, 1952. Records of the Canal Zone Board of Registration, 1954-80. Marine Traffic Control System contract files, 1961-77 (in Atlanta). Notary public signature cards, 1922- 82, with microfilm copy (1 roll). Press clippings, 1963-64 (in Atlanta). Microfilm copies of board minutes of the Panama Canal Company, 1951-69 (3 rolls) and verbatim board minutes, 1952-68 (3 rolls). General records of the Palo Seco Hospital (Leprosarium), 1907-62. Reports relating to leper patients, 1921-64. Miscellaneous correspondence relating to the Palo Seco Hospital (Leprosarium), 1916-71.

Maps (1 item): Panama Canal Zone and vicinity, 1957. SEE ALSO 185.10.

Maps and Charts (20 items): Blueprints of plats and site plans for Battery Mackenzie, Fort Sherman, 1917-72 (19 items) and drawing titled "Plan de L'Hopital Central de Panama, 1881," presented to the hospital superintendent on January 1, 1918 by the chief health officer (1 item).

Architectural and Engineering Plans (236 items): Excavations at Bas Obispan-San Luis Cascade Reaches, 1964 (235 items, in Atlanta). Battery Alexander MacKenzie, Balboa Heights, CZ, 1972 (1 item). SEE ALSO 185.10.

Aerial Photographs (400 items, in Atlanta): Panama Canal, 1946. SEE ALSO 185.10.

Motion Pictures (30 reels): Documentary footage, 1956-79, including riots, 1959 and 1964, student demonstrations, 1976 and 1977, and visits by President Jimmy Carter, June 1978, and Vice President Walter Mondale, September 1978.

Sound Recordings (175 items): OAS and ICJ hearings concerning the Canal Zone riots (January 9, 1964), 1964 (29 items). Meetings of the Board of Directors and special committees of the Panama Canal Commission, 1978-84 (146 items).

Related Records: General records, "Alpha Files," and "99 Files," 1951-60, under 185.7. Record copies of publications of the Canal Zone Government and the Panama Canal Company in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government. Records of the Atlantic- Pacific Interoceanic Canal Study Commission, 1965-70, in RG 220, Records of Temporary Committees, Commissions, and Boards.

185.9 RECORDS RELATING TO HEALTH CONDITIONS IN THE PANAMA CANAL ZONE
1883-1977

Textual Records: Annual reports of the Health Bureau, 1883-1977. Proceedings of the Canal Zone Medical Association, 1908-27.

185.10 CARTOGRAPHIC RECORDS (GENERAL)
1870-1955

Maps: Microfiche copies (105 mm) of maps from the Special Panama Collection of the Canal Zone Library and Museum, selected to illustrate the history of U.S. government surveying and construction activities, 1870-1955.

SEE Maps UNDER 185.3, 185.4, 185.5.1, 185.5.2, 185.5.3, 185.5.4, 185.6, 185.7, and 185.8. SEE Architectural and Engineering Plans UNDER 185.7 and 185.8. SEE Engineering Plans UNDER 185.3. SEE Aerial Photographs UNDER 185.8.

185.11 MOTION PICTURES (GENERAL)

185.12 SOUND RECORDINGS (GENERAL)

185.13 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)
1887-1979

Photographs (18,794 images): Construction, operation, and history of the Panama Canal, 1887-1940 (G, 10,000 images). Panama Railroad Company/Panama Canal Company construction and ceremonial events, 1937-60 (C, 6,585 images). Riots and demonstrations in the Panama Canal Zone and the Republic of Panama, 1964-79 (PR, 2,209 images).

Photographic Prints (163 images): Student riots in the Canal Zone, Panama, 1964 (SR).

Panoramic Photographic Prints (4 images): Early construction of Panama Canal, ca. 1905 (P).

Slides (36 images): Black and white lantern slides showing views of various vessels which passed through the Panama Canal, including a merchant ship, the SS Marne the crane ship Atlas and an Army launch, the Gen. Morgan Lewis, ca. 1920-40 (LS).

SEE Photographs UNDER 185.2 and 185.3. 185.6, and 185.8. SEE Photographic Prints UNDER 185.7.

Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


6 Famous Literary Forgeries and How They Were Discovered

Just about everyone's glanced over their classmate's shoulder at some point, and perhaps given into the temptation to copy an answer . or a whole paragraph. And while borrowing another person's words and passing them off as your own is never right, some people have taken that concept to a whole other level of wrong. Here are six of the most famous literary forgeries that make stealing a test answer or two seem like downright innocent behavior.

6: The Forgeries of Lee Israel

Anyone who saw Melissa McCarthy's dramatic turn in 2019's "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" is familiar with the name Lee Israel. The film was based on Israel's memoir of the same name, which chronicled her theft and forgery of about 400 letters from figures like Dorothy Parker and Ernest Hemingway. While Israel saw some success as a biographer in the 1970s and 1980s, her career stalled after her third book flopped.

As she struggled to pay the bills, Israel came into possession of some letters from actress Fanny Brice. She sold them for $40 each and then realized how easy it would be to alter the letters to make them juicier and more valuable. She did just that, and then transitioned to flat-out forgery, using old typewriters to compose entirely fake correspondence from famous figures. "I had a whole cock-and-bull story made up about the cousin who died and left me these wonderful letters," Israel later told NPR. "I never had to explain."

She eventually stopped selling letters, but then moved on to stealing letters from library archives, replacing them with her own carefully crafted replica, and selling the stolen original to private collectors. It wasn't until autograph dealer David H. Lowenherz learned that the Ernest Hemmingway letter he'd purchased was actually part of Columbia University's collection that Israel's scheme was uncovered. The FBI found the rest of the writer's forgeries and she pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to transport stolen property in interstate commerce in 1993. Israel was sentenced to six months' house arrest with five years' probation, and while she was able to work again as an author and editor, she said, "I still consider the letters to be my best work."

5: The Diary of Jack the Ripper

In 1888, a serial killer brutally murdered five London women, and while the perpetrator was never identified or caught, the public came to know him as Jack the Ripper. Over a hundred years later, a Liverpool scrap metal merchant named Michael Barrett produced a journal from Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick who'd died in 1889, allegedly at the hands of his wife. The journal contained explicit details of the murders of five women and the passage, "I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentle man born. Yours truly, Jack the Ripper."

There had of course been speculation about the true identity of the notorious murderer for a century, but Maybrick had never been on the list. When Barrett presented the journal, many historians believed it certainly had potential to be genuine. But then Barrett confessed to forging it. and then he retracted the confession. The story got even more confusing when Barrett's estranged wife asserted that her family had been in possession of the journal for decades. Weirdly enough, it's still unknown whether the Maybrick diaries are legitimate and/or whether Maybrick was Jack the Ripper. Experts now believe the majority of the crime descriptions were lifted from press reports and contain many of the details that were publicized and later revealed to be inaccurate.

4: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Published in 19th century Russia, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" claimed to contain the minutes of 24 "secret meetings" held by Jewish wise men plotting to take control of the world. The texts contain everything from descriptions of the future universal State to critiques of liberalism and more, but the chronicles are completely fake. Later revealed to be the work of Pierre Ivanovitch Ratchkovsky, head of one section of the czar's secret police, the Protocols were apparently written to paint the Jews as a scapegoat in the already heavily anti-semitic Russia, where citizen unrest was threatening the czarist regime.

Ratchkovsky claimed to discover the Protocols and then handed them to Russian writer Sergey Nilus who published them in 1903 in a nationalist review. The Times of London wrote a positive piece on the texts in 1920, but withdrew the support a year later when correspondent Philip Graves found them to be a fabrication, plagiarizing sections of an 1864 book about Napoleon III and 160 passages from "Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu." By 1935, more confirmation of the manuscript's illegitimacy came to light when the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland sued a local pro-Nazi group for distributing copies of it and Russian witnesses testified that Ratchkovsky had forged them.

The Protocols can still be found in circulation today, used as propaganda by right-wing extremists and anti-Semitic hate groups.

3: Clifford Irving's Autobiography of Howard Hughes

After reading a 1970 Newsweek piece on Howard Hughes titled "The Case of the Invisible Billionaire," Clifford Irving had an idea: Why not pen a totally fake autobiography of the fascinating character? At the time, Hughes had gone into hiding on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, and Irving was captivated by his eccentricity. Not to mention, Irving was kind of an expert on forgery, having just written the as-told-to memoir, "Fake!: The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time."

Drawing on his expert knowledge, Irving carefully pored over a Hughes letter that had been reprinted in the Newsweek article and started to pen letters from the billionaire. He told his publisher he'd struck up a close friendship with Hughes and was meeting with him in the tropical paradise, banking on the fact that Hughes was so anti-attention, he'd never rebut the claims. The plan worked — Irving scored a $750,000 advance for Hughes' "autobiography," got $250,000 from Life magazine for the serial rights, and another $400,000 from Dell for paperback rights. Irving went on a major media tour, and for all intents and purposes, his story seemed to check out — until Hughes came forward.

In 1971, the reclusive billionaire vehemently denied knowing Irving and soon after, Swiss banking investigators busted Irving and his wife for possessing a bank account in the name of "H.R. Hughes." One year later, the couple pled guilty to conspiracy in federal court and in state court, along with Irving's research assistant, Richard Suskind, who pled guilty to conspiracy and grand larceny. Irving served 17 months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence. Seeing an opportunity for more fame, he and Suskind published the book, "Clifford Irving: What Really Happened" that year (it was later reissued as "The Hoax").

"Had I succeeded, no one would have been hurt," he told reference work Contemporary Authors. "If I had it all to do over again, I would do it all, with one difference. I would succeed."

2: The Hitler Diaries of Konrad Kujau

When German weekly Stern and British newspaper The Sunday Times ran excerpts from Adolph Hitler's supposed private journals in 1983, people quickly began to question their authenticity. British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper had read through the diaries before they were published, but a day later said he had "misunderstood the nature of their procurement." Soon after, the West German government performed chemical testing on the documents and declared them total fakes, presumably based on the book, "Hitler: Speeches and Proclamations — 1932-1945."

So who was behind the deception? A West German journalist who'd exposed the "diaries" pointed the finger at a Nazi memorabilia dealer named Konrad Kujau. The dealer was arrested and, in 1985, Kujau was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, but released after just three years.

1: "Vortigern and Rowena" by "William Shakespeare," aka William-Henry Ireland

In 1795, William-Henry Ireland, a 19-year-old law clerk, decided it would be a good idea to fabricate a slew of Shakespearean documents, including letters, drawings, poetry, and most famously, an entire play which he titled "Vortigern and Rowena." When he told London scholars and antique dealers that he'd accidentally stumbled upon the papers that appeared to be penned by William Shakespeare, they believed him. It started when the aspiring writer and notoriously poor student wanted to impress his father. He practiced tracing Shakespeare's famous signature and eventually scrawled it onto a blank piece of parchment, which he passed off to his dad as a genuine deed he'd discovered in the house.

According to Smithsonian magazine, Ireland was stoked by the deception he'd managed to pull off. "Several persons told me that wherever it was found, there must undoubtedly be all the manuscripts of Shakspeare [sic] so long and vainly sought for," he wrote two years later. Once he realized he could fool everyone with his supposed findings, he aimed high, penning an entire play about a fifth-century English king named Vorigern and the object of his affection, Rowena. Shakespeare fans were so thrilled to have a newly-discovered piece of the Bard's work, they may have overlooked how, well, off the writing was. And Ireland even tried to cover his tracks, forging a letter that explained why Shakespeare had allegedly hid the play, claiming he considered it his greatest achievement and wanted more than the printer was willing to pay him for it.

"William Henry Ireland was known as the 'second Chatterton', as, like Thomas Chatterton, he was a precocious teenager and a literary forger — though he lacks Chatterton's undoubted genius," says University of Exeter English professor Nick Groom in an email exchange. "Ireland forged the papers of William Shakespeare — not only drafts of plays such as 'King Lear' and 'Hamlet,' but legal documents, love letters (including a lock of Shakespeare's hair), and even whole new plays."

Eventually, playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan read a few pages of "Vortigern and Rowena" and picked up on the phoniness. And after Ireland's father published a volume of the so-called Shakespearean papers, Edmond Malone, a renowned expert on the author, published his own exposé, calling them a "clumsy and daring fraud." When a local theater put on a production of the play, the crowd wound up laughing at many of the lines, booing ensued, and even a fight broke out in the pit. The reviews were unsurprisingly not kind. Ireland confessed, but never faced legal punishment for his forgery.

"Although there were many committed believers, much of his work verges on the absurd and the play 'Vortigern' was howled from the stage when it was performed," Groom says.


Covert Operations

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream took place in a chilly hotel ballroom in Austin. Though Koch freely promotes his philanthropic ventures, he did not attend the summit, and his name was not in evidence. And on this occasion the audience was roused not by a dance performance but by a series of speakers denouncing President Barack Obama. Peggy Venable, the organizer of the summit, warned that Administration officials “have a socialist vision for this country.”

Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”

In April, 2009, Melissa Cohlmia, a company spokesperson, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Party, saying that Americans for Prosperity is “an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities.” Later, she issued a statement: “No funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, or Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.”

At the lectern in Austin, however, Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily. “We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”

Venable honored several Tea Party “citizen leaders” at the summit. The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the “cokehead in chief.” In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of “demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).” The summit featured several paid speakers, including Janine Turner, the actress best known for her role on the television series “Northern Exposure.” She declared, “They don’t want our children to know about their rights. They don’t want our children to know about a God!”

During a catered lunch, Venable introduced Ted Cruz, a former solicitor general of Texas, who told the crowd that Obama was “the most radical President ever to occupy the Oval Office,” and had hidden from voters a secret agenda—“the government taking over our economy and our lives.” Countering Obama, Cruz proclaimed, was “the epic fight of our generation!” As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quoted the defiant words of a Texan at the Alamo: “Victory, or death!”

Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. The group continues to stoke the rebellion. The North Carolina branch recently launched a “Tea Party Finder” Web site, advertised as “a hub for all the Tea Parties in North Carolina.”

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, the former governor of New York, and Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real-estate magnate. Pataki, a Republican who received campaign donations from David Koch, called him “a patriot who cares deeply about his country.” Zuckerman praised David’s “gentle decency” and the “range of his public interests.”

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

“You’re depressed? My depression makes your depression look like euphoria.”

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

Koch married Mary Robinson, the daughter of a Missouri physician, and they had four sons: Freddie, Charles, and twins, David and William. John Damgard, the president of the Futures Industry Association, was David’s schoolmate and friend. He recalled that Fred Koch was “a real John Wayne type.” Koch emphasized rugged pursuits, taking his sons big-game hunting in Africa, and requiring them to do farm labor at the family ranch. The Kochs lived in a stone mansion on a large compound across from Wichita’s country club in the summer, the boys could hear their friends splashing in the pool, but they were not allowed to join them. “By instilling a work ethic in me at an early age, my father did me a big favor, although it didn’t seem like a favor back then,” Charles has written. “By the time I was eight, he made sure work occupied most of my spare time.” David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically. “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” he told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, and the author of “Radicals for Capitalism,” a 2007 history of the libertarian movement. “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”

David attended Deerfield Academy, in Massachusetts, and Charles was sent to military school. Charles, David, and William all earned engineering degrees at their father’s alma mater, M.I.T., and later joined the family company. Charles eventually assumed control, with David as his deputy William’s career at the company was less successful. Freddie went to Harvard and studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. His father reportedly disapproved of him, and punished him financially. (Freddie, through a spokesperson, denied this.)

In 1967, after Fred Koch died, of a heart attack, Charles renamed the business Koch Industries, in honor of his father. Fred Koch’s will made his sons extraordinarily wealthy. David Koch joked about his good fortune in a 2003 speech to alumni at Deerfield, where, after pledging twenty-five million dollars, he was made the school’s sole “lifetime trustee.” He said, “You might ask: How does David Koch happen to have the wealth to be so generous? Well, let me tell you a story. It all started when I was a little boy. One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until my father died and left me three hundred million dollars!”

David and Charles had absorbed their father’s conservative politics, but they did not share all his views, according to diZerega, who befriended Charles in the mid-sixties, after meeting him while browsing in a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita. Charles eventually invited him to the Kochs’ mansion, to participate in an informal political-discussion group. “It was pretty clear that Charles thought some of the Birch Society was bullshit,” diZerega recalled.

DiZerega, who has lost touch with Charles, eventually abandoned right-wing views, and became a political-science professor. He credits Charles with opening his mind to political philosophy, which set him on the path to academia Charles is one of three people to whom he dedicated his first book. But diZerega believes that the Koch brothers have followed a wayward intellectual trajectory, transferring their father’s paranoia about Soviet Communism to a distrust of the U.S. government, and seeing its expansion, beginning with the New Deal, as a tyrannical threat to freedom. In an essay, posted on Beliefnet, diZerega writes, “As state socialism failed . . . the target for many within these organizations shifted to any kind of regulation at all. ‘Socialism’ kept being defined downwards.”

Members of the John Birch Society developed an interest in a school of Austrian economists who promoted free-market ideals. Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism. Hayek’s belief in unfettered capitalism has proved inspirational to many conservatives, and to anti-Soviet dissidents lately, Tea Party supporters have championed his work. In June, the talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who has supported the Tea Party rebellion, promoted “The Road to Serfdom” on his show the paperback soon became a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon. (Beck appears to be a fan of the Kochs in the midst of a recent on-air parody of Al Gore, Beck said, without explanation, “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information.” Beck declined to elaborate on the relationship.)

Charles and David also became devotees of a more radical thinker, Robert LeFevre, who favored the abolition of the state but didn’t like the label “anarchist” he called himself an “autarchist.” LeFevre liked to say that “government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.” In 1956, he opened an institution called the Freedom School, in Colorado Springs. Brian Doherty, of Reason, told me that “LeFevre was an anarchist figure who won Charles’s heart,” and that the school was “a tiny world of people who thought the New Deal was a horrible mistake.” According to diZerega, Charles supported the school financially, and even gave him money to take classes there.

Throughout the seventies, Charles and David continued to build Koch Industries. In 1980, William, with assistance from Freddie, attempted to take over the company from Charles, who, they felt, had assumed autocratic control. In retaliation, the company’s board, which answered to Charles, fired William. (“Charles runs it all with an iron hand,” Bruce Bartlett, the economist, told me.) Lawsuits were filed, with William and Freddie on one side and Charles and David on the other. In 1983, Charles and David bought out their brothers’ share in the company for nearly a billion dollars. But the antagonism remained, and litigation continued for seventeen more years, with the brothers hiring rival private investigators in 1990, they walked past one another with stony expressions at their mother’s funeral. Eventually, Freddie moved to Monaco, which has no income tax. He bought historic estates in France, Austria, and elsewhere, filling them with art, antiques, opera scores, and literary manuscripts. William founded his own energy company, Oxbow, and turned to yachting he spent an estimated sixty-five million dollars to win the America’s Cup, in 1992.


Reader Interactions

Comments

If you want to move to England then just do it! What are you waiting for?!

The current UK government’s policies are preventing us from getting a visa unless you’re very rich.

How’s your application coming along Jonathan? The same goes for Brits coming to the US, if you aint got a job lined up with a visa in place or married to a yank then forget about it. I’m here on the second option after meeting my wife in Blighty while she was working there for an american firm. Good luck mate hope it turns out for you.


PBS Is Making Several Ken Burns Documentaries Available for Free to Teachers and Students

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns has a reputation for presenting audiences with incredibly comprehensive, detail-oriented portraits of American history, covering everything from baseball to the Brooklyn Bridge. His documentaries are just as informative as they are engrossing, and you might walk away considering yourself an unofficial expert on whatever topic Burns lends his talents to.

Now, PBS LearningMedia is bringing Burns’s educational spirit to housebound students and teachers across the nation with a new “Ken Burns in the Classroom” digital hub, where you can watch a number of his docuseries for free. So far, the list comprises Jazz (2001), The Roosevelts (2014), and College Behind Bars (2019), and it will include four others by the end of April: 1990’s The Civil War, 2007’s The War (about World War II), 2009’s National Parks: America’s Best Idea, and 2012’s The Dust Bowl.

“We have heard loud and clear that teachers are in need of full films to better engage students and to align with their teaching during this period of distance learning,” Ken Burns said in a statement. “We have worked closely with PBS to clear rights and package these films so they can be streamed and made accessible.”

In addition to full-length series, the hub also houses video clips from Burns’s other works, covering subjects like the Vietnam War, Lewis and Clark’s expeditions, and more, along with a wealth of supplemental materials and lesson plans that teachers can send to their students via Google Classroom or another “share” option on the site. The resources are organized in two ways—by film and by era—so educators can skip right to a section on, for example, “The Industrial Age (1870-1900)” or see what content is available from Burns’s 2011 docuseries Prohibition. The hub will remain open through June 30.

To give us yet another way to explore the history of America through his body of work, Burns has created a separate PBS-run webpage called “Unum,” where video clips and supplements are split up into different categories, from themes like “Protest,” “Elections,” and “Art” to specific events like the Great Depression and Watergate.

All things considered, both Unum and “Ken Burns in the Classroom” are wonderful opportunities to expand your historical knowledge, whether you’re a student, teacher, or just a curious person.