Lincoln Assassination Artifacts Kept as Evidence

The assassination items didn't end up in private collections because they were held as evidence

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By Nikki Schwab, Washington Whispers

The renovated Ford's Theatre Museum opened to the public this week, and among a slew of "beyond priceless" artifacts, as Ford's Theatre Society Director Paul Tetreault calls them, are John Wilkes Booth's boot, his compass, his appointment book, and some photos of his "girlfriends." What's notable is that these items, which Booth was wearing or had with him after assassinating President Lincoln on April 14, 1865, are in good condition. Even more amazing is that the government, and not historical scavengers, still has them. The reason, says Tetreault: "This was a crime scene, and all of this stuff was confiscated as evidence."

And behind the wall of conspirators' items you'll find the most dramatic Booth item of all—the Deringer pistol that killed the president, which appears to be floating in a simple glass box. Tetreault tells Whispers that the dramatic display was to "highlight, in a way, the elegant simplicity of it."

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