FBI Knew Woodstock #230,099 Could Not
Have Been Hiss's Typewriter
1976 release to Alger Hiss of approximately 40,000 pages of
documents under the Freedom of Information Act, allowed the
defense to see for the first time what the FBI and the prosecution
had known about the Hiss case typewriter before the trials;
what they learned during the trials; and what they later discovered
after the trials. Much of this material should by rights have
been immediately made available to Hiss, since it strengthened
his case. On the basis of this and other instances of prosecutorial
misconduct, Hiss returned to court in 1978, asking that his
guilty verdict be set aside under a writ of error "coram
nobis." Here's what Hiss's 1978 coram nobis brief had
to say about what the government had learned about that crucial
piece of evidence - the Woodstock typewriter.
Central to the presentation of the government case
was the Woodstock Typewriter, Exhibit UUU, bearing serial
number 230,099. Although the typewriter was offered as a defense
exhibit, it was promptly adopted by the prosecution as the
machine which had been owned by the Hiss family and which
had typed both the Baltimore Documents and the Hiss Standards
(letters acknowledged to have been typed by the Hisses in
the 1930s), and the court and jury were so advised. The court
on both trial and appellate levels accepted the trypewriter
as the source of the documents.
When, on the motion for a new trial, the authenticity
of the typewriter was challenged by the defense, the government
reversed its strategy and argued that the authenticity of
the typewriter was irrelevant, characterizing the argument
of the defense as "frivolous" and "a patchwork
of assumptions." But in the closing stages of the litigation,
in its brief in opposition to Hiss's petition for certiorari
to the Supreme Court, once again the government argued that
Exhibit UUU was the machine that the Hisses had obtained from
the Fansler/Martin partnership and which had typed the Hiss
Standards and the Baltimore Documents, although the FBI had
long since concluded this could not be.
The files revealed by the FOIA suit make it clear
that the prosecution had in its files evidence that Exhibit
UUU could not have been the Hiss typewriter. This evidence
was concealed from the petitioner not only during the trial
when petitioner believed Exhibit UUU to be authentic. During
the motion for a new trial when petitioner challenged the
authenticity of Exhibit UUU, Myles Lane deliberately misled
the court and defense to make sure that only incomplete information,
consistent with the prosecution's case, was revealed.
On December 4, 1948, Hiss was interviewed by the FBI. He stated
that from 1936 to "sometime after 1938" he and his
wife had a typewriter in their home - "possibly an Underwood
". He did not use the machine but Priscilla did use it
sometimes and samples of Priscilla's typewriting might be
in existence. He further stated that before he got the typewriter
"it was the property of Mr. Thomas Fansler, Mrs. Hiss's
father, who was in the insurance business in Philadelphia."
Three days later Priscilla told the FBI that:
Sometime in 1932 or 1933, as far as I can recall,
my father, Mr. Thomas L. Fansler . . . had in his possession
a typewriter which he gave to me. I do not recall whether
I had this typewriter while I was residing in New York City.
I do not recall the make of this typewriter. I do not recall
now, how I disposed of it.
the next few days Hiss and his wife made a search for documents
which might have been typed on the machine they had owned.
The documents they located were turned over to the FBI. In
addition, Hiss ' counsel retained Horace Schmahl, who, on or
about December 6th and 8, 1948, interviewed Mr. Harry L. Martin,
the surviving partner of the Fansler/Martin firm. Martin told
Schmahl that the Fansler/Martin partnership had owned a single
typewriter, that it was a Woodstock, and that it had been
purchased from Thomas Grady, a salesman for the Woodstock
Company in Philadelphia, in 1928. When Fansler retired, he
took the typewriter with him, stating that he intended to
give it to Mrs. Hiss. Martin gave Schmahl some leads as to
possibilities of securing specimens of the typing on the machine
but the leads produced nothing.
Milwaukee headquarters of Northwestern Life Insurance Co.
advised the FBI that on December 9th, Schmahl had called their
office, in a further effort to locate specimens of the typing
from the machine in the Fansler/Martin office. The Woodstock
Typewriter Co. office in Chicago also advised the FBI that
Schmahl had called, in an effort to trace the sale of the
machine by Grady to Fransler/Martin. Northwestern Life Insurance
Co. said it had turned over to the FBI all of the material
it had; the Woodstock people refused to give him any information
at all. Schmahl was unable to locate Grady.
in December, 1948, Hiss's counsel also sought the machine
which had been in Hiss's home. At the trial the government
introduced Ex. 1 through 47 of the Baltimore Documents, identified
by Chambers as documents he received from Hiss. Similarly
received in evidence, without objection, were documents known
as the Hiss Standards. Three of these were letters admittedly
typed by Priscilla Hiss on the machine in her home. The fourth
was a letter signed by Daisy Fansler (Priscilla's sister).
Ramos C. Feehan, an FBI agent, testified that as a result
of his examination of the documents, he:
reached the conclusion that the same machine was
used to type Baltimore Exhibits 5 through 9 and 11 through
47 that was used to type the four known Standards which were
submitted to [him] for comparison with the questioned documents.
There was no cross-examination of Feehan on this conclusion
at either trial.
only other testimony relevant to the typewriter presented
by the government was by Mr. John S. McCool, an FBI agent,
who demonstrated to the jury that the machine was operable,
and by George Norman Roulhac [who testified about seeing what
he said might have been a Woodstock typewriter in the home
of Hiss's maid, Claudie Catlett].
the defense Priscilla Hiss testified that at some time between
June 1931 and January 1933 she had acquired the Woodstock
office typewriter which had belonged to her father, Thomas
Fansler, when he retired from the insurance business "early
in the thirties". Priscilla used the typewriter for some household
correspondence. She further testified that when the Hisses
moved from their home on 30th Street in Washington to a house
on Volta Place at the end of 1937, she disposed of the typewriter
by giving it to the children of their housekeeper, Claudie
(or Clidi) Catlett. This testimony was confirmed by the Catlett
(Pat) Catlett said he gave the machine to his sister, Burnetta.
Burnetta testified that after she was married, she left the
typewriter in the attic of a Dr. Easter. After Dr. Easter's
death, Vernon Marlow, a neighbor, took the machine.
Lockey, a moving man, testified that he first saw the
typewriter in 1945 when it was in Mrs. Marlow's backyard
and she gave him the typewriter in part payment for
a hauling job. He gave the typewriter to his daughter,
Margaret Lockey McQueen, who testified that she kept
the typewriter for some time and then returned it to
her father. Edward McLean [one of Hiss's lawyers] found
and purchased the typewriter on April 16, 1949, from
Lockey, writing out a bill of sale describing the machine
as "one Woodstock Typewriter Model No. 230,099." The
typewriter was introduced into evidence without objection
by Hiss as Ex. UUU.
Hiss and his wife denied typing any of the typewritten
Baltimore Documents, the latest of which must have been
written after April 1, 1938. The defense contended that
Hiss did not have possession of the machine after January
Typing Errors Betray Priscilla Hiss - or the
Fred Cook noted in his story on the Woodstock
typewriter, Prosecutor Thomas Murphy improperly
told the jury in the second trial that if they
looked carefully, they would see common typing
errors between the State Department documents
allegedly typed by Mrs. Hiss and the letters
that the Hisses said were typed on their typewriter.
What Cook didn't know at the time was that the
FBI laboratory had previously told Murphy that
such a comparison could not accurately be made.
the excerpt from Alger Hiss's coram nobis petition
that dealt with the
and then read the FBI's
report to Murphy.
there was no expert testimony at the trial that Ex. UUU had
produced either the Baltimore Documents or the Hiss Standards,
the government, in effect, adopted Ex. UUU as one of its exhibits
and forcefully asserted its relevance. In closing, Murphy
told the jury that the Baltimore Documents "were typed
on that machine (indicating). Our man said it was." In
fact, "our man" had said no such thing. Feehan 's
testimony had been silent as to what machine had typed the
Hiss Standards and the Baltimore Documents. The court followed
in Murphy 's footsteps in its charge saying:
Another exhibit was the Woodstock typewriter that
was or had been the property of Mr. and Mrs. Hiss. It is the
contention of the government that this is the typewriter upon
which Baltimore Exhibits 5-47 (with the exception of Exhibit
10) were typed. This is not contested by the defense but the
defense claims that this typewriter was given away when the
Hisses moved to the Volta Place house at the end of December,
same line of argument, including the same misstatement as
to the state of the record, was offered in the Government's
Brief to the Court of Appeals:
From these specimens [the Hiss Standards], both
the government's experts, and those experts who testified
for the defense, concluded that the Baltimore Papers, with
the exception of Baltimore 10, were typed on the Woodstock
typewriter, given Mrs. Hiss by her father.
In its Opposition to the Petition for Certiorari, the government
once again claimed that it had "established at the trial"
that the Baltimore Documents "were typed on a certain
Woodstock typewriter, which was in the possession of petitioner
and his wife at least as late as December 29, 1937."
knew that the Baltimore Documents had not been typed in his
home. After his appeals had failed, while he was in custody,
his counsel, for the first time, began to question the authenticity
of the typewriter which Hiss had presented to the court as
his own. The affidavit of Chester T. Lane, who represented
Hiss at the motion for a new trial, sets forth the genesis
of the idea that Ex. UUU was not, in fact, the Fansler/Martin
machine [Harry L. Martin had been Thomas Fansler's business
partner]. He noted that "both the government and the defense
had made earnest efforts to trace the machine." The defense
had located a machine which it believed was the one which
had been owned by Hiss, and the United States "appeared to
take the same view." "Yet," he said, "no government witness
had ever said that UUU was the machine used for either the
Baltimore Documents or the Hiss Standards.... it seemed peculiar,"
said Lane, "that the government's case had been silent on
the matter ... could it be that the government also was suspicious
of the machine's authenticity?"
for the first time, defense counsel became aware that there
was significance to the serial number on the typewriter -
230,099. It was recalled that Martin had told defense investigator
Horace Schmahl, in December, 1948, that the typewriter in
the Fansler/Martin office was a Woodstock, that it had been
purchased early in 1928, and given to Priscilla when Fansler
retired. Inquiry of the successors to the Woodstock Typewriter
Co. made it clear that a machine bearing serial number 230,099
was not manufactured before July, 1929. If Martin was correct,
it was impossible that 230,099 was the machine which was given
by Fansler to Priscilla and which was the machine in the Hiss
household until it was disposed of in 1937 or early 1938.
therefore became critical to establish the date on which the
Hiss typewriter came into the Fansler/Martin office. This
proved to be difficult. The witnesses who had the available
information were uncooperative in speaking to the defense.
Martin refused to talk to Lane at all. Schmahl refused to
sign an affidavit verifying his earlier report as to his interview
with Martin although the affidavit he was asked to sign was
in full accord with the truth. Grady was dead.
Lane then attempted a separate line of inquiry to try to establish
the date of acquisition of the Fansler/Martin machine. He
sought from Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. some of
the Fansler/Martin letters which might have been sent to it
(which had been, unknown to the defense, examined by Feehan
prior to the first trial). As they had before the trial, the
insurance company refused to give Lane the letters, but later
agreed to release to Donald Doud, a documents examiner retained
by the defense, some of the letters or photostats of letters,
written by the partnership between 1927 and 1930. Doud sent
in his opinion to Chester Lane in November, 1951, to the effect
that the Fansler/Martin letters dated up to June 29, 1929
were written on a different and earlier model Woodstock than
those beginning with July 8, 1929. This would tend to indicate,
said Doud, "that the Fansler/Martin office acquired a
second Woodstock machine between the period of June 29, 1929
and July 8, 1929." This suggestion was, of course, contrary
to Martin's statements, but even if true, the "second
Woodstock machine" could not have been 230,099.
Schmitt, formerly in charge of the Woodstock factory and custodian
of the Woodstock records, told both Lane and the FBI that
machine number 230,099 was not manufactured until late July
or August, 1929. Hence, Exhibit UUU could not have been the
machine that typed the letter of July 8, 1929. With its elimination,
it would follow that none of the Fansler/Martin correspondence
was typed on 230,099, and there is no reason at all to believe
it was the machine which was given by Fansler to Priscilla.
than this Chester Lane could not do, as he ruefully remarked
"as I had no legal right to a subpoena I could do nothing."
had their suspicions raised as to the authenticity of 230,099,
and confident that the testimony of the government witness
was wrong, the Hiss attorneys sought to find an explanation
of Feehan's testimony and suggested that someone could have
built a typewriter which could mimic the machine which had
typed the Baltimore Documents. If such a machine could be
built, argued Chester Lane, perhaps it was and perhaps it
was used to forge the Baltimore Documents and to mimic the
Hiss Standards. Lane did not claim that he had produced "useable
evidence to establish his theory" but pointed to the
"extraordinary handicaps which surround any such investigation
on behalf of a private citizen" and urged "that
justice cannot be done unless the case is reopened for further
proof according to law."
government responded to the motion for a new trial primarily
by urging that the argument that Ex. UUU could not be the
Hiss machine was irrelevant because Ex. UUU was not produced
by the defense until after Feehan's testimony at the first
trial, and that the opinion of Feehan was not based on any
specimens taken from Ex. UUU, but solely on the basis of a
comparison of the Hiss Standards with the Baltimore Documents.
Therefore, United States Attorney Myles Lane argued, "...
no identity with Ex. UUU was attempted or needed. " Forgotten
was Murphy's closing argument, with its heavy emphasis on
"identity with Ex. UUU."
in his argument, Myles Lane said:
Hence, even assuming for the purpose of argument
that the trial Exhibit was a fabricated machine and not the
Hiss machine, the soundness and completeness of the government's
evidence is not affected one iota.
was not only a reversal of the position taken by Murphy and
the court at the trial, and by the government on appeal; as
we shall see, the argument also covers up material hidden
in the FBI files. In the very closing act of the motion for
a new trial, in its brief in opposition to Hiss's petition
for certiorari, the government reversed its position once
again. The government noted that at the trial "both the
defense and the government accepted the typewriter in evidence
as the one which also produced the Baltimore Documents."
disclosure of the FBI and Department of Justice files in the
1970s uncovered many hitherto concealed aspects of the case
and confirms Hiss's suspicion, first raised after the conviction,
that Exhibit UUU was not the machine he and his wife received
from Mr. Fansler, and which remained in the Hiss household
until December, 1937 or January, 1938. It now appears that
evidence in the FBI and Justice Department files established
that Ex. UUU could not have been the machine owned by the
Fansler/Martin partnership and that this evidence was improperly
concealed from Hiss. In adopting Exhibit UUU as a government
exhibit, Murphy vouched for its authenticity although he had
strong reason to doubt that it was the Fansler/Martin-Hiss
machine. In asserting the irrelevancy of the typewriter at
the time of the motion for a new trial, Myles Lane was misleading
the court in order to cover up the government's failure to
disclose to the defense the evidence in its files on the typewriter.
48 hours after Hiss told the FBI, on December 4, 1948, that
his typewriter had originally been owned by Thomas Fansler,
FBI Director Hoover instructed the Philadelphia
agents of the FBI to obtain specimens of typewriting from
any machine owned by Thomas Fansler. On December 6, 1948,
FBI agent Kirkland interviewed Martin who stated that when
the partnership office was opened in 1927, a new Woodstock
typewriter was purchased by the partnership from Thomas Grady,
that this typewriter was the only one in the office during
the life of the partnership, and that Fansler took the typewriter
and a roll-top desk with him when he retired (CN
December 10th, the FBI located and interviewed Thomas Grady
in Milwaukee. Grady stated that he recalled selling a Woodstock
typewriter to Fansler/Martin in 1927. Further, he recalled
making the sale shortly after the Fansler/Martin partnership
was created, which, he thought, might have been earlier in
1927. In all of his subsequent interviews, he repeated this
statement. It could not have been later, he said, because
he resigned as a salesman for Woodstock on December 3, 1927.
FBI also communicated with officers of the Woodstock Typewriter
Co. regarding serial numbers of Woodstock machines manufactured
between 1925 and 1930. They were advised that the approximate
serial numbers were assigned to typewriters as follows:
Number At Year Beginning of Year
December 15th, the Washington field office sent a telex
to Philadelphia stating that it was imperative to ascertain
the serial number of the typewriter in question in order
to narrow the search and to identify the typewriter, if
found. In a summary statement dated December 17, 1948, Philadelphia
agent Kirkland stated:
to fix date Woodstock typewriter was purchased by Fansler/Martin
partnership unsuccessful, but indications are it was purchased
between June, 1927 and December 3, 1927.
December 18th, Daisy Fansler was interviewed by the FBI.
She stated that her father had brought home a typewriter
and a roll-top desk after his office had been closed; that
he offered the typewriter to her, but she rejected it because
she already had a more suitable machine, and that the typewriter
had then been given to Priscilla in the hope that Priscilla's
son Timothy "could learn to type [on the machine]."
She did not know the make of the typewriter, but it was
an old upright machine.
sales records of the Philadelphia office of Woodstock had
been apparently destroyed, and the FBI sought to find machines
with serial numbers evidencing manufacture in 1927 or 1928.
Some of those machines were found but none was the Fansler/Martin
machine. FBI agent Kirkland directed that no investigation
be made as to machines manufactured after 1927, as shown
by the serial numbers.
December 23rd the Philadelphia office had definitely concluded
that the Fansler/Martin Woodstock had been purchased in
1927. Kirkland, in his summary report dated that day, noted
that attempts to locate a sales record for the typewriter
had been unsuccessful, but stated:
view of the fact that Thomas Grady . . . resigned on December
3, 1927 it would appear, therefore, that the serial number
of the typewriter sold to Fansler/ Martin would be less
December 30th the FBI laboratory sent a report to the Washington
field office, as follows:
The standard in the Laboratory's files which matches
most closely the typewriting appearing on Q6 through Q69 reflects
that the Woodstock Typewriter Company made such type in 1929.
Information has been received that the Woodstock Company assigned
approximate serial numbers to their typewriters in 1929 from
204,000 up to 240,000, in 1930 240,000 up to 276,000 and assigned
the number 276,000 at the beginning of 1931. Inasmuch as the
information that has been received gives approximate serial
numbers, the proper consideration should be given to obtaining
specimens from machines having serial numbers lower than 204,000.
January 3, 1949, Philadelphia sent another telex to the Bureau
regarding the pertinent serial range for the typewriter search:
Interviews with John Gallagher, the last manager
for Woodstock Phila Agency and who was employed at agency
as a repair man during period of sale of instant Woodstock
to Fansler/Martin, have reflected that machines did not
remain in Phila Agency for long periods before sale. Subsequent
interviews this district tend to support this statement.
This office is of opinion that pertinent period concerning
typewriter sold to Fansler-Martin lies between January 1,
1926 and January 31, 1927, or serials 145,000 to 177,000.
Bureau requested to establish serial number limits for all
offices interested in this investigation.
This analysis was repeated by Kirkland in his report dated
January 11, 1949. He concluded, as he had two weeks earlier,
that the search could be confined to a serial number range
between 159,300 and 177,000. Director Hoover responded to
Philadelphia 's request on January 14th, by instructing all
field offices involved in the typewriter investigation that:
Search for Woodstock should be limited to machines
manufactured between January 1, 1926 and January 1, 1929,
that is, machines - having serial numbers from 145,000 - 204,500.
FBI apparently learned that the defense had discovered a typewriter
when agents interviewed Clidi Catlett on May 13th. Within
a day they had traced the machine to Ira Lockey who showed
them a receipt he had received from McLean dated April 16th,
referring to a Woodstock machine bearing serial number 230,099.
discovery caused consternation in the field. The serial number
of the machine was well outside the range established by Hoover
as a result of the FBI's intensive investigations over the
preceding four months and thus was inconsistent with the information
received as to the Fansler/Martin machine from Martin, Grady
and other witnesses interviewed in the preceeding December
and January. On May 14th, the Washington field office advised
the Director and other field offices that the defendant had
obtained a machine bearing number 230,099 which it alleged
was the Hiss Woodstock. The field was directed to "conduct
all possible investigation to determine history of this typewriter
since its manufacture including sale, resale, and repair."
immediate response of Thomas J. Donegan, Special Assistant
to the Attorney General, was to remind FBI agents to keep
their typewriter investigations secret. Just two days after
the FBI discovered that the defense had found 230,099, the
New York field office informed Hoover and other field offices
that Donegan had requested:
...that all persons being interviewed re Woodstock
typewriter phase of this investigation should be informed
that they should regard such interviews as strictly confidential
as are any other interviews conducted by the Bureau. Do
not however advise persons interviewed that they should
not inform Hiss or his attorneys that they were contacted
by FBI as it would be embarrassing at trial if it developed
that such instructions were given by Bureau.
Philadelphia field office, on whose shoulders the burden of
the field investigation had fallen, was quick to advise the
is desired to point out, in the event this has not previously
been considered, that the definite possibility exists this
typewriter (230,099) is not the one received by Priscilla
Hiss from her father Thomas Fansler. The investigation to
date has established that the Fansler-Martin partnership
purchased a Woodstock typewriter in nineteen twenty seven."
telex then summarizes in detail the results of the field
work done to date, and the Chicago field office was
requested to conduct further investigation at the Woodstock
office. The Director was advised that:
is no record of serial two three naught naught nine
nine in Phila. file or in personal records of John
Carow, former manager of Woodstock Phila. agency.
Investigation today at Bundy Typewriter Co., one of
the largest agencies in Phila., and at Victory Typewriter
Co. which took over remaining assets of former Phila.
Woodstock agency has failed to develop any info re
serial two three naught naught nine nine.
May 25th, six days before the opening of the first trial,
Director Hoover informed the Milwaukee, Philadelphia
and Chicago offices that 230,099:
been identified by the FBI laboratory as being the
machine which was used to type documents QG through
Q69, known as the 'Baltimore documents.'
to interview Thomas Grady to obtain an explanation
as to how he could sell a machine which was manufactured
in 1929 to the Fansler-Martin partnership in 1927.
ended with a warning that:
no circumstances during the course of the above-requested
investigation should the fact be disclosed that typewriter
bearing serial 5N 230,099 has been identified as the
machine which was used to type the 'Baltimore Documents.'
The FBI did interview both Grady and Martin as instructed
but both maintained their original positions. Kirkland
reported on the FBI interview with Martin on May 27th:
It was pointed out to Martin that the Bureau was in
possession of information that this [Fansler-Martin]
typewriter was believed to have been manufactured
in 1929, whereas other facts concerning the purchase
of the typewriter indicate definitely that the machine
was purchased in 1927. Mr. Martin was unable to explain
any discrepancy in these circumstances and upon complete
review of the entire situation in his mind he restated
that it is his definite opinion that the Woodstock
typewriter purchased by the Fansler-Martin partnership
was purchased sometime during 1927, and that so far
as he is concerned, this is the only typewriter purchased
by the partnership.
June 9th the FBI once again interviewed Martin. His
testimony was unchanged. He was "positive this
typewriter was not traded in on a new one at any time
during the Fansler-Martin partnership."
June 13th Milwaukee advised Hoover of the results of
its re-interview of Grady on June 7, 1949:
again relating his recollection of the sale of a typewriter
to FANSLER and MARTIN, GRADY pointed out that the
sale must have been in the year 1927 for the reason
that after GRADY left the employ of the Woodstock
Typewriter Company, in December, 1927 he never again
was in the business of selling typewriters and furthermore
it could not have been prior to 1927 for the reason
that HARRY MARTIN was not in business for himself
selling insurance until about the middle of 1927.
GRADY is sure that he made the sale shortly after
FANSLER and MARTIN became associated in the insurance
late as June 30th, Kirkland was still reporting on Martin's
steadfast view that the Fansler/Martin machine was purchased
from Grady in 1927 and that it had never been traded
in "at any time during the life of the partnership."
This was two weeks after Feehan's testimony in the first
with the FBI field search for the typewriter, the FBI
laboratory was comparing exemplars of typewriting which
had been collected both by the FBI and by Mr. and Mrs.
Hiss. Feehan examined 23 Fansler/Martin letters dated
between 1927 and 1930. As to the letters dated June
29, 1929 and earlier, he found that the typing was not
the same as the Baltimore Documents though some were
found to have been typed on a Woodstock machine. A letter
dated July 8, 1929 was the first letter which, according
to Feehan, used type of the same "general style"
as the Baltimore Documents.
reconciliation of all of these conflicting facts had
to be found, and one was attempted by Guy Hottel of
the Washington field office. On June 8, 1949, during
the opening week of the first trial, and immediately
before Feehan's testimony, Guy Hottel of the Washington
field office, who wrote a memorandum to Hoover which
summarized the FBI laboratory reports and other evidence,
had suggested that "there are at least indications
that the Woodstock Typewriter in question [230,099]
was purchased on or shortly before July 8,1929."
This, of course, was the same conclusion as that reached
by Doud and it was erroneous for the same reasons: not
only was it directly in conflict with the repeated statements
by Martin and Grady that there was only one typewriter
and that it was purchased in 1927 or 1928; furthermore,
it assumes that the Fansler/Martin office could have
acquired Ex. UUU on or before July 8, 1929. As will
appear, that assumption had to be abandoned when the
motion for a new trial was made.
of the foregoing (other than Feehan's testimony at the
trials that the Hiss Standards were typed on the same
machine as "the Baltimore Documents"), was
known to Hiss at the time of the trial, although it
presented a situation which would have raised serious
doubts as to the authenticity of the defendant's exhibit
and the credibility of Feehan's testimony.
the first and second trials, unknown to the defense,
Murphy managed to secure an order permitting him to
take specimens of typing from Ex. UUU, which had been
left in the custody of the clerk. These specimens were
submitted to the FBI laboratory, which concluded that
both the Hiss Standards and the Baltimore Documents
were typed on Ex. UUU. This was never mentioned in Ramos
Feehan's testimony at the second trial, nor at the motion
for a new trial, nor was it known to Hiss until the
FOIA files were opened. Had it been available at the
trial, defense counsel might have examined the testimony
of the experts more carefully because the so-called
experts' testimony could not be squared with the facts.
motion for a new trial brought on a new flurry of activity
by the FBI. Long before the motion was filed, the FBI
knew that it was in the course of preparation, as many
of the technicians and experts consulted by Chester
Lane promptly advised the FBI of such consultation.
In conversation therewith, on January 30, 1951 agent
Belmont sent a memorandum to agent Ladd summarizing
the FBI view of the case as it stood at that time. He
will recall that Alger Hiss was convicted mainly on
the Government's presentation in evidence of 64 typewritten
documents produced by Whittaker Chambers, which he
claimed were typed on a typewriter which Alger Hiss
and his wife had in their possession during the period
the documents were dated, namely, January, 1938 and
up to April, l938. You will also recall that a Woodstock
typewriter, which originated in the partnership of
Fansler-Martin, insurance agents in Philadelphia,
was traced into the Hiss home where it is known to
have been during the period 1937-1938. This typewriter
was sold to the Philadelphia insurance partnership
in 1928, according to the records of the Woodstock
Agency in Philadelphia, and was the only Woodstock
typewriter ever in the possession of the partnership.
FBI Laboratory identified the typewriting on the 64
Chambers documents as having been typed on this Woodstock
typewriter. The typewriter was introduced in evidence
at both trials. The identification of the typewriter
and the documents proved most damaging to the defense
and they were unable to refute the evidence against
them throughout both trials.
This summary omits critical facts which are inconsistent
with the facts stated - namely the serial number on
Ex. UUU and the date of its manufacture. Had these facts
been included, the simple story told by Belmont would
have collapsed. Belmont's summary of the evidence was
repeated in substantially the same words on March 14,
motion for a new trial was filed on January 24, 1952.
and Myles Lane were much troubled by the defense attack
on the authenticity of Exhibit UUU. On May 3, 1952,
Hoover directed the Chicago and Los Angeles FBI offices
to interview Schmitt, Youngberg and Hokanson, former
engineers of Woodstock, with respect to the authenticity
of typewriter number 230,099 and its date of manufacture.
He suggested that:
appears that typewriter N230099 could have been made
in July, 1929. Mr. Youngberg should be interviewed
at some length regarding his best recollection of
the normal practices of the Woodstock Typewriter Co.
in 1929 as to their method of placing serial numbers
On May 12th the Chicago office responded to Hoover's
directive. Its contents were such that Hoover re-defined
the FBI position:
light of the information in Chester T. Lane's affidavit
dated January 24, 1952, the information in the Chicago
letter of May 12 may be interpreted to infer that
typewriter N230099 could not have been in the hands
of Fansler in the early part of July, 1929. You are
reminded that the document of the earliest date that
has been previously identified with the Baltimore
papers and typing from N230099 is the Daisy Fansler
letter dated June 12, 1931.
might add that numerous other letters, dated before
during and after 1929 and originating in Fansler's
office in Philadelphia, have been examined in the
Laboratory and not a single one has been positively
identified with the documents, the Hiss family papers
or typewriter N230099.
Myles Lane asked the Chicago FBI to interview Schmitt
regarding the accuracy of the draft affidavit which
the defense had requested him to sign. Although Schmitt
had refused to sign it when requested by Chester Lane,
he now admitted to the FBI agents that it was substantially
correct. With this information at hand, there was no
evidence at all, as Hoover recognized, that 230,099
was even in the Fansler/Martin office!
the very moment defense produced the typewriter which later
became Exhibit UUU, the prosecution was aware of the possibility
that it was not the machine which had passed from the Fansler/Martin
partnership into the hands of Hiss. The FBI had the contrary
testimony of Martin, Grady and others; the serial number of
the defense's machine was far higher than that of the machine
the FBI had been seeking; and some of the FBI field force
had warned the Director that the machine the defendant had
produced might not be the genuine Fansler/Martin machine.
government not only failed to disclose its doubts to the defense
and to call attention to the contrary evidence in its files;
it went much further and made the questionable machine a part
of its case. Murphy embraced it passionately in his closing,
the court accepted the government theory and the Appellate
Courts agreed. If there were any questions raised as to why
the government had never sought to prove that Exhibit UUU
was the machine which had produced the Hiss Standards and
the Baltimore Documents, those questions were never articulated
anywhere on this record as it has been compiled so far.
the motion for a new trial, there was a substantial change
in the posture of the parties. Now, for the first time, Hiss
challenged the authenticity of Exhibit UUU. At this point
certainly the government should have admitted the existence
of its evidence, now rapidly accumulating, that Exhibit UUU
was not the authentic Hiss typewriter. To the original evidence
available at the trial, there was added the results of the
extensive research done by a host of FBI agents into the manufacturing
procedures of the Woodstock Typewriter Co. The evidence collected
by them was so substantial, that Director Hoover was forced
to the conclusion that .... there was no evidence at all that
any of the Fansler/Martin correspondence had been typed by
UUU. And, to make the matter worse, Feehan had come to the
conclusion between the two trials that Exhibit UUU had typed
the Hiss Standards while all of the evidence available to
the FBI after 1951 indicated that this was impossible.
But the government disclosed nothing and concealed everything.
It facilely changed its argument and urged upon the court
that the typewriter was irrelevant. Forgotten now was Murphy's
reference to the typewriter in his closing remarks to the
jury; forgotten was the position taken by the government throughout
the appeals from the trial. Instead, Myles Lane urged that
Feehan's testimony had been presented independently of the
typewriter and that the authenticity of the typewriter was
of no significance.
change in position, however, came too late. The jury had already
decided the case and decided it on the theory offered by the
government - a theory which the government reverted to once
again on the appeal from the motion for a new trial.