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I had read that upon Tesla's death that the U.S. government stormed his residence and lab seizing all of his note's and papers, this being done without a proper warrant.  Is this true to your knowledge? and if so has anything been done to recover the property?

There is popular notion that immediately after Tesla's death, U.S. government agents entered his hotel suite, seized all of his scientific notes and papers, and soon after that they vanished, never to be seen again.

This story is historically incorrect.  Tesla—s papers did not disappear.  From all accounts, the actions taken following Dr. Tesla's death on January 7, 1943 were conducted in an orderly and respectful fashion.  According to those present at the time, Tesla's papers and other personal possessions were placed under the charge of the Office of Alien Property.  His supposedly 'lost' papers, even the ones on advanced weapons, along with his personal belongings, were brought to the Manhattan Warehouse and Storage Co., locked up, and a certificate of ownership was issued to his nephew Sava Kosanovic.  It being wartime and considering Tesla's involvement in remote detection and advanced weapons development the papers were quickly inspected for items possibly important to national defense and then microfilmed.  FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show that these United States Government microfilms were made available for use by the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force.  In 1952 the consolidated estate was shipped to Yugoslavia.  

A report by Charlotte Muzar on the disposition of Tesla's papers and personal effects. 

In regards to the Nikola Tesla Museum (Muzej Nikole Tesle) in Belgrade, it presently contains the whole of Nikola Tesla's personal and intellectual inheritance. The following is from their old website.

"The whole inheritance of Nikola Tesla is situated on the first floor. It includes his manuscripts and drawings, his correspondence with over 6700 different persons and institutions, the books he used, the valuable clippings from periodicals and newspapers, which published articles about Tesla, or about the scientific and technical problems Tesla was concerned with. 

"On the whole, there are more then 150,000 documents in the archives, all field and catalogued, and accessible to every research worker. Some of the manuscripts are yet to be published, by which the knowledge about Tesla and his work is to be more fully completed.

"By using Tesla's inheritance, the Museum of Nikola Tesla has published the following books so far: Lectures, Patents, Articles (1956); Tribute to Tesla (1961); Colorado Springs Notes (1978), and the same work in Serbian translation (Dnevnik istraivanja, Kolorado Springs, 1899-1900) - published in 1976. In preparation is the publication of the complete works of Nikola Tesla in six volumes, which will be based on the original documents and archive materials." [ ]

The Nikola Tesla Museum's policy on the use of the Nikola Tesla Legacy collection can be found on their new website is located at .


The Nikola Tesla Museum, as the guardian, promoter, and agent of the Nikola Tesla legacy, is the focal point for a broad scope of public attention. One of the most often posed questions is — when, and under which conditions, is Tesla's archive going to be available for public use? 

Feeling a great responsibility and obligation towards Nikola Tesla's huge body of work, as well as towards everyone wishing to learn more about, first of all, the written part of his legacy - as a first-rate and unique source for diverse researches - we decided to publish our strategy for processing and exploitation of segments of Nikola Tesla's legacy, articulated and contained in the Digitalization, Microfilming, Processing, and Exploitation Project for the Segments of Nikola Tesla's Legacy (see "DIGITALIZATION AND MICROFILMING").

Appreciating the necessity to regularly and completely inform the public about all key activities at the Nikola Tesla Museum, we decided to also provide all basic information about the started and planned projects, and the stages of their realization, which will be updated as needed, hoping to demonstrate our determination to do everything in our power to save and share the memory contained in Tesla's legacy, based on the highest standards of represented professions and best practices (see "The Project of Digitalization)". We are well aware that such a significant endeavor demands patience, and that there is no room for shortcuts. Therefore, we decided to act and proceed with understanding and consideration, and we expect the same from others. 

It is not common for institutions protecting cultural heritage to communicate with the public in this manner about their plans - which are often viewed as a business secret - but we are convinced that it is our obligation, primarily to Nikola Tesla himself, as well as to all admirers of his huge body of work. 


See Tesla—Man Out of Time, pp. 258-280, and Wizard—The Life and Times of Nikola Tesla, pp. 436-462 for additional words about the circumstances surrounding Tesla's death and the handling of his estate. 

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