Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: History Time Capsules


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Exhibits of the National Law Enforcement Museum: History Time Capsules

The collections of the National Law Enforcement Museum contain artifacts that document the history of law enforcement in America from the 18th Century through the events of 9/11 and beyond. Some of these objects will be showcased in the History Time Capsules, seven large cases that will curve along the north wall of the Museum.

Each Time Capsule holds within it the artifacts and images that provide a “snapshot” of a particular time in American history, viewed through the lens of law enforcement. Visitors can begin to trace the arc of this history in the first Time Capsule, where they will learn about the influence of English jurisprudence and law on the origins of American law enforcement and view some of the oldest objects in the Museum’s collections, including a 1759 volume entitled Acts and Laws of His Majesty’s Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in New England.

The next two Time Capsules speak to the development of municipal police forces during the mid-19th century. One features uniforms, badges, and other accoutrements of an officer of the law in the settled East.  The visitor can compare these objects with those found in the other case, which will hold saddlery, weapons, and equipment of a lawman in the American West.

The chronology continues in the next two cases, which focus on developments in law enforcement in the early 20th century. In the first of the two cases are objects that relate to the professionalization of law enforcement—early radio equipment, an early 20th century motorcycle cop jacket, bullet proof vests, police manuals, and marksmanship trophies—and show not only changes in technology but also the evolution of efforts to train police officers in these decades. The second case centers on the theme of federal law enforcement in the early 20th century and features such artifacts as Al Capone’s handgun and Treasury Agent Michael Malone’s revolver and badge that he used when he arrested Capone, as well as artifacts related to the FBI.

Policing in America during the 1960s and 1970s was informed by the larger social changes that were taking place at that time. The Time Capsule focusing on these tumultuous decades showcases artifacts associated with Sheriff Lucius Amerson, from Macon County, Alabama, elected in 1966 as the first Black Sheriff voted into office in the South since Reconstruction ended in 1877. The case also features the uniform of Jean VanLandingham, one of the first women to work as a patrol officer on the street in the 1970s.

The final Time Capsule is filled with a powerfully evocative collection of items from the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These compelling objects, discussed in greater detail on the first page of this newsletter, convey the trauma of the event and also provide an avenue for discussing the changes made in law enforcement as a result of these attacks on the United States.

The History Time Capsules will provide visitors with a deeper insight into and understanding of why American law enforcement is as it is today.

Next month: Spotlight on The History Beat


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www.LawEnforcementMuseum.org | museum@nleomf.org