rock and roll crowd a few years ago. so agee still gets around quite a bit. .. >> thank you very much, dell. it's wonderful to be here. it's very heartening for a writer to see so many readers in one place. of course, writers are first and foremost readers, too. when i started this project amazingly enough, i completely forgot the first rule of being a good reader. never judge a book by its c high had seen pictures of woodrow wilson and came to the conclusion that he was sorry girl and cool, that he was a
staunch bullmaster and a prim presbyterian. i knew very little about his first wife, ellen wilson in july decided she could not possibly have been interesting or important. i had never even heard about mary ellen, woodrow wilson's intimate friend for eight years. i had heard about edith wilson and everything i heard was bad. that she was a power hungry woman who seized power when woodrow wilson had a stroke. that she was a secret woman president. fortunately, i live right here in washington d.c. and just up the hill behind us is the library of congress, the sponsor
of this great event. it is a temple of learning and a fabulous resource for researchers. so i started reading woodrow wilson's letters to ellen. in 1883 just became engaged, they had a three year engagement and wrote each other hundreds of letters. what i discovered when i was reading these letters is he was very cerebrum but he was far from cool. he was very romantic and passionate. soon after their engagement he wrote her i am not a boy any longer. it was less for you to teach me the vast, in measurable difference between the use fancy and a man's overmastering love.
i am sometimes absolutely frightened that the intensity of my love for you. two years later just before their marriage he wrote her, asking her to imagine the warmest of kisses press down upon the sweetest center of your lips. woodrow was not just romantic, however. he was unusually dependent on women for the fulfillment of his own power. he could not work unless he was assured that a woman he loved loved him also. fortunately, ellen was the perfect partner for woodrow wilson. she loved him very much and she told him so eloquently. she was a very unusual woman for time and place. she grew up after the civil war in a small town in georgia but was unusually well educated.
her father was a presbyterian minister and ellen was an avid reader. it was said she could find a quotation for any occasion. she also had abundant artistic talent. her work had won a prize at an exposition in paris and by the time she was 23 she had concluded that she was never going to find a man who could live up to her ideal. she decided she and her friends would open a women's boarding house and she would support it with her artwork. people began to call her ellen the man hater. then she met woodrow wilson. they fell in love and they got married. ellen was not only a loving wife, she was a capable help make. woodrow wilson was a brilliant man but he may have suffered
from a learning disorder. he was almost 12 before he learned how to read. he had great difficulty in learning foreign languages so ellen learned german in order to translate the political monographs that he needed for his research. she also made digests of political science books in english for him. with her help he achieved the first of his ambitions which was to be a professor at his alma mater in princeton university. once he became a professor at princeton he was a very popular professor. he began to be invited to make speeches and she helped him agreed deal with his speeches as well providing those quotations when he needed them. he was invited to give a very important speech for the 150th anniversary of the founding of
princeton. and they collaborated closely on that speech. we found manuscripts with corrections in both of their handwriting. at one point she said the ending is a little flap. you need to make its war. you should read a poem by john milton. told him which poland. if you compare that poem to the speech you can see that is exactly what he did. the speech is full of metaphors that obviously came from her experience about art and domestic affairs. the speech was a huge success and it was clear that woodrow wilson was destined for greater things. ellen loved being a professor's wife. that was the pinnacle of happiness. but she knew that would row had more ambition. that is partly what had drawn her to him.
he once said i can be a better wife to a great man than a small one. so when woodrow wilson was elected president of princeton college she went along. she moved her house. she began to entertain. she had to entertain former president theodore roosevelt and the great african-american educator booker t. washington. the scandalize georgia and. woodrow wilson was very successful. he was so successful that he began to think of a career in public service which is what he had always wanted. he began to be discussed for governor of new jersey.
but in 1906 this rosy prospects ahead of them a tragedy be phil wilsons. woodrow wilson woke up one morning in may, blind in his left thigh. he probably had a ministroke. he was 49 years old. he was devastated. the doctor told him he might have to give up his career entirely. there was no medication for hypertension in those days. they told him that he could recover if he just took regular vacations. so in january of 1907 he went to bermuda for a month. ellen was planning to go with him but she didn't because at last moment she had a family emergency. he went and two days before he was due to come home he met a fascinating woman, mary allan
hubbard pack, leading social hostess of the island. she entertained the governor general and mark twain. when woodrow got back to princeton he started to write to her. this is not unusual. ellen always encouraged him to have friendships with other women. those pictures notwithstanding woodrow wilson had a very silly side to him. he loved to sing and dance and tell jokes and recycling rex. ellen with a more serious person and she couldn't keep up with that side of him. she wanted him to have a cheerful female companions. but this time she sensed that something was different about mary peck so when woodrow wilson went to bermuda in january of 1908 and once again ellen was prevented from going by a family
situation, shea issued an injunction to hmmm to watch himself with mary and it was no use. there on that tropical island with all the sea breezes wafting across his skin he became completely infatuated with mary peck. there is a scrap of handwriting on a slip of paper that says my precious one, my beloved mary. when he got back to princeton that spring, ellen was furious. she accused him of the emotional love for mary. he went on vacation to england that summer and ellen went to an artist colony in connecticut. she had given up her art work in order to devote herself to woodrow. now she took it up again to have some part of her life that was not entwined with his.
all that summer he wrote her pleading letters begging to be forgiven. we don't know what she wrote because all of her letters are missing. we think that she probably burned them. at the end of the summer woodrow wrote her a very happy letter. obviously she had forgiven him and he said it is even better to be loved if you don't deserve it. so wouldn't you think that he would stop the -- meeting mary peck? he didn't. as soon as he got back to the united states he and ellen went up to massachusetts where mary lived with her husband during a summer. hy don't know why she did that. it could be that she wanted to see this rival. it could be that she wanted mary to see her aunt to know she had a better claim on him. it could be that she wanted to
protect woodrow wilson's reputation because he had a political career ahead of him so she pretended that mary peck was a family friend. in 1910 woodrow wilson was elected governor of new jersey. once again ellen rose to the occasion. she had been active in welfare work in her community. this was known as municipal housekeeping. women argued that if they could run households they could also clean up their communities. this is considered a safe alternative to the scary idea of women voting. so she began to investigate state institutions and she made a tour of many of them. this is a ground-breaking move on her part. woodrow tagalong on that for.
would grow's administration was such a success that he began to be spoken of as a potential presidential candidate. ellen recognized that there was a big obstacle to his running for president. william jennings bryan, had three times been a democratic nominee for president and who would throw had in salted publicly several years before. so ellen arranged for woodrow to have dinner with william jennings bryan and sure enough woodrow found he liked him. they spoke from the same platform after that. she did as she had before continued to see mary peck as a family friend. wardrobe began to travel around the country making >>es. ellen followed his progress very
closely sending him telegrams of commentary. at one point she said in a telegram, stop saying you're not running for president. just makes you look foolish. he stopped. sure enough he became the democratic nominee in june of 1912 partly with the help of william jennings bryan. that summer when the republicans held their convention william howard taft, the incumbent, opposed by former president theodore roosevelt. taft won and roosevelt was so bitter over that loss that he form a third party, the progressive or bull moose party and he was seen as the bigger competitor to wilson. he was so popular. so one of roosevelt's advisers came up to him and he said we managed to obtain some letters
of woodrow wilson to mary pack. you should publish them and this campaign will be over. you will win and roosevelt said no. that would be wrong. also he said nobody would believe me. who is going to think the man is a romeo? he looks like he ought to be working in a drug store. so he did not publish the letters and woodrow wilson won. in the beginning of 1913 ellen found herself in the white house. it was not a place she ever wanted to be but once she was there she felt she had to use it for its maximum benefit. she began to be interested in what we would now call urban renewal. up here behind the capital where a maze of little alleyways. they were narrow and dark and
dirty and they bred crime and disease and they were full of dilapidated little houses. at that time the federal government was running the district and she wanted federal legislation to teardown those houses and build modern hygienic new houses at low cost for the presidents. she got a white house car and she began to take members of congress around those alleys to show them the squalor that existed right behind the marble halls of the capitol building. as far as i know she was the first first lady to lobby outside of the white house for cause that was not on her husband's agenda. in the second year of woodrow wilson's term her health began to decline and by june of 1914 she could no longer get out of bed. her doctor was in denial.
he thought she was suffering from nervous. woodrow was distracted because at the end of june the archduke franz ferdinand of austria had been assassinated and the international situation was going to pieces. but by august 6th it was clear that ellen was dying. this was two days after all the european powers had declared war on each other. ellen knew she was running out of time so she made two final requests. the first was to her husband's chief of staff. she asked him pleased to go up to capitol hill and tell the congressman she would die more easily if they would just pass that alley legislation. the senate took action right away in time for her to receive word before she lost consciousness. the bill was eventually passed but it was never implemented.
with the onset of world war i they needed all the buildings they could have weathered dilapidated or not and in many cases more important things to think about. ellen's second request was to the white house physician. she said dr. please take care of my husband. and then she died. woodrow was disconsolate. he wondered all of the white house empty, echoing. he told one correspondent he was reading detective stories as a man might get drunk, just to forget. you might have thought he would have turned to mary at this time, but due to the pressures of the presidency their relationship really had cooled and in any case, that would have confirmed the rumors about them.
so he was alone. by the spring of 1915 the doctor became worried. his patient was the president and the world was at war so he introduced a friend of his, edith, to the president. mrs. golf was a widow and proprietor of golf jeweler's which the old timers in washington remember fondly. it was known as the tiffany's of washington. she was 15 years younger than woodrow. she was vivacious, cheerful, flirtatious. the first night she came to dine at the white house in a long velvet gown, woodrow wilson's secret serviceman said to his valet she is a looker and the valet said yes, he is a goner. and he was. he proposed marriage to her just two months after its they met.
she refused. she said they had known each other long enough and in any case it hadn't been a year, the minimum amount of time before remarriage. woodrow didn't give up. in july he invited edith to vacation with him and his 3 grown daughters in new hampshire and he proposed again. this time she accepted. but they kept the engagement secret because it still had not been a year since ellen's death. there was another wrinkle to this romantic saga and that was mary. woodrow confessed to edith, called his relationship with mary a falling long ago loaf in repentant them. she for gave him but made sure was over. the announced their engagement in october of 1915 even before
they got married, woodrow took her into his confidence. he wanted her to share every aspect of his work with them. he showed her state department documents and annotated them for her better understanding. and she loved that. she like to say i love the way you put one deer hand on mine while with the other you turn the pages of history. they got married at the end of december, 1915. 1916 was a presidential election year and woodrow was running for reelection. edith campaigned with him. she was a big asset to his campaign because she warmed up his austere image. in november woodrow wilson was narrowly reelected. they were using the slogan he kept us out of the war.
but shortly after his inauguration the germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and the united states was drawn into world war i. edith's role changed almost completely. she volunteered in a red cross canteen handing out coffee and sandwiches to the soldiers as they came through union station. what she really liked was anything to do with woodrow. she named battleships. when he had to sign commissions for new officers she made a little game of it. whisking away when paper and putting another one down in front of him, trying to see how many they could do in an hour. he even decoded the telegrams coming from europe. arguably her most important job was keeping the president healthy. every day she would drag him out to play golf. they were both terrible golfers
but they enjoyed it a lot. on november 11th, 1918, the war ended. woodrow made a surprising decision to go to europe himself to negotiate the peace treaty. he was the first sitting president to go to europe and she was the first presiding first lady to go to europe. they were greeted like heroes. they were met by throngs of people throwing flowers and cheering them. they stayed at buckingham palace. edith rode home and it was like a cinderella existence. but once the negotiations began things got tough and woodrow's health began to suffer. finally in june of that year the treaty ever saw was signed. it provided a league of nations, an international body that would mediate disputes and hopefully prevent war in the future.
but when woodrow brought the treaty back to the united states to be ratified by the senate, the senate refused. they were jealous of their constitutional prerogative to declare war and they were afraid the league of nations would oblige them when they didn't want to. they wanted to add amendments or reservations and woodrow wanted the document ratified as written. so he undertook a tour by train all across the united states to california and back. it was september. it was hot. there was no air conditioning in these metal cars. he was speaking every day sometimes more than once. as they returned from california and wound up through the rocky mountains the altitude began to tell on his blood pressure.
in pueblo, colorado he collapsed. they raced back to washington but it was too late. a few days after they arrived he suffered a massive stroke. he was paralyzed. he could hardly speak. nobody knew what his mental faculties were like and as president he was completely incapacitated. edith made the decision to carry on. she did what no other first lady has done before or since. she instructed the white house staff and his doctors to keep his condition secret. she was the one who decided what should happen next. the next 18 months the rest of his term, she characterized her stewardship. she decided to could see woodrow
wilson, she decided what issues would be brought before him, mostly she deferred things. she wanted to wait until he should recover. she was import to take more action for the sake of the country and she said i am not thinking about the country. i am thinking about my husband. some people say that if she had allowed woodrow wilson more access to his advisers that they would have changed his mind and gotten him to compromise on the league of nations. we discovered edith herself wanted woodrow wilson to compromise. she thought his failure to compromise would mar his place in history. but she urged him gently and when he resisted she didn't insist. she always did what he wanted.
so they stayed in office until the end of his term in march of 1921. they left the white house, settled in washington, he was the only president to have done that after leaving office. three years later he died. after his death edith had opportunity to run for office herself. she never took it. she was not interested in public office and political power. she never proposed any new legislation or lobbied for any cause. she didn't even think women ought to have the vote. i began this project thinking that edith was the secret woman president but i discovered that ellen was the one who shaped history in her own way.
she was the innovator. in her husband's administration there was an insistence secretary to the navy, franklin delano roosevelt. his wife, eleanor roosevelt, was a young wife who somehow visited the white house and new ellen wilson. after ellen's death, no subsequent first lady lobbied for legislation until eleanor roosevelt entered the white house in march of 1933 during her first week there, she went up to capitol hill and began to lobby for an alley built. as we all know she lobbied for a lot of things in the next 12 years and after her, most first ladies have felt they could and should have a cause of their
own. this book festival was founded by laura bush his cause was libraries and literacy. arguably a direct connection between ellen wilson and where we are today. i also discovered that being close to a president may seem glamorous but it is very tough. all three of the women involved with woodrow wilson paid a heavy price. but i think that ellen realized this. she died in the white house. mary peck had wanted to go to the white house but she wound up in a boarding house on the wrong side of the tracks. edith had to nurse an invalid in
the white house but ellen could have been speaking for all three of them when she wrote would grow at the end of real-life, this has been the most remarkable life history i have ever even read about. to think that i have lived it with you i wonder if i am dreaming and will wake up and find myself married to a bank clerk. thank you very much. [applause] i think we have a few minutes if anyone would like to ask a question. >> i am looking forward to reading your book. have probably read a couple
biographies of woodrow wilson. most recently where he was a childhood home etc. and i saw a documentary about the women's party and women's suffrage and he let women be jailed for protesting at the white house. alice paul led a number of women in prison on hunger strikes. he comes across as a southern gentleman who had racism and anti-semitism as part of his nature. it is surprising to hear that he was dependent on women as your book will demonstrate. do you have any comments on these weaknesses of his i guess? >> first comment, thank you very much. very good observation. one of those is it was a sign of
the times. many women themselves did not approve of the vote. there were two branches of the women's suffrage movement. my grandmother was involved. i discovered in the course of my research that she had been received at the white house because they were not picketing. they were trying to do it through political action and he respected that and wanted to encourage that. i had not known that before i started researching the woodrow wilson papers and white house logs. edith was even more indignant that would grow. woodrow used to invite pickers into the house during cold weather for coffee and when they refused to come in and be given coffee edith had a fit. they -- she thought that was terribly rude to refuse his gentlemanly overtures. we understand that would
undercut their point. it was certainly nothing i am a big apologist for where woodrow wilson is concerned. i certainly think the women in his life particularly ellen, were extremely admirable. ellen herself was a great activists through her work for the alleyways and she was recognized by the leading african-american newspaper at the time, washington be. after her death they wrote if only other white women could be as active as she is in trying to ameliorate the conditions of the african-american community in washington we would get ahead further. so woodrow wilson was a southerner. a large number of people in his cabinet were southerners. it was part of the culture of
his time and his administration. thank you. >> it is not on? thank you for writing this book. very interesting. my question is what happened to edith after his death? was there federal support or pension for her to care for her? what happened? >> she lived for 38 more years and. at the time she died in 1961 she was 89. she died on woodrow wilson's birthday which gives me goose bumps. there was no definite policy about giving pensions to the widows of presidents. they had to be negotiated on a year by year basis. eventually they were established. but in the beginning there was a little bit dicey. she of course had been quite
wealthy before she married would grow. she had that flourishing jewelry store and all those that took a hit during the depression and she did economize from time to time she did all right. she never had children. she donated their house on s street near dupont circle to the national trust for historic preservation. wonderful museum. a time capsule of life in the 1920s. if your interested in woodrow wilson that is a great place to visit. >> do we have any indication as to what ellen's illness was? >> she suffered what was called bright's disease which was a catch all phrase for kidney trouble. she had first been diagnosed with kidney trouble during her third pregnancy in eighteen 89.
but again, they didn't have a lot of medicine or treatments for that. she probably would have succumbed to kidney disease in any case. woodrow was extremely guilty about it. he felt the pressure of the white house had done her in but she always was going to get kidney disease and that is what she died of. >> i wondered if you would talk a little bit about the course of your research for this book. he mentioned the library of congress. what documents was most important to you? if you knew what you were looking for when you came in or if you found things in the course of your research? >> i have to say i couldn't have done it without the help of my research associate robert mcginnis, and also the fabulous annotated collected letters and papers of woodrow wilson which
were added by arthur link and published by princeton. 69 volumes of paper is. the or originals are on microfilm and the library of congress but thanks to that wonderful annotated book that is also a resource but some of ellen's papers and edith's were the most poignant and that i found. among ellen's papers were two notes that she wrote to margaret, ole miss daughter a few days before she died and she said the doctors say i am going to get better but i don't feel i am going to get better and she also said my nights are so full of pain. it was heartbreaking to read those. to hold the papers that she rose is also very magical. especially for edith's papers, many of them were not collected because the woodrow wilson papers stopped with his death
and she got another 38 years. the papers for the chapter on her life after woodrow were very key and at the risk of sounding like an infomercial i have to have a big shout out to all the people in the manuscript reading room because they are wonderful. anyone who wants to do research there will find a great team. >> i would like to thank you for your tribute to these great women. i was wondering if you could talk about ellen and woodrow's three daughters. did any of them follow when their father's footsteps or one accomplishments they have their own? >> great question. the oldest daughter margaret was a singer. accounts differ but we felt that the end of the day she probably didn't have a lot of talent and people were nice to her because her father was president. might have gradually dawned on
her because she went off and lived in india where she died. the second daughter jessie married a lawyer, frank fehr and their son became dean of the washington cathedral. a very beloved figure in washington and of course woodrow wilson and edith are buried at that cathedral. there is a nice connection. the youngest daughter known as nell married one of woodrow wilson's cabinet members. amen considerably older than she was. william gibbs mcadoo. they had children and were later divorced and married somebody even younger. , would save the middle one was the closest to her mother. she had been active in the settlement house movement. she used to argue with ellen about women's suffrage.
jesse certainly felt women should have a vote. ellen did not want to say something contrary to what her husband had said but in one interview she said she thought at least working women should have the vote to protect themselves. just got a couple of minutes. you have one question? >> thank you. i was intrigued by edith's will after her husband had a stroke. sounds like she was a surrogate president. was there any debate at that time about wilson being declared incompetent and the vice president taking over? if you would care to speculate what that would have meant for our history? >> a good question. it is a good one. i will do my best. she was deceptive. no two weighs about it. there was a committee of two senators who came to see what
his condition was like. one democrats and one republican and she and the doctor orchestrated the viewing of woodrow to be seen at his best advantage. complete the hoodwink to these two senators who came away and told the press he was doing just fine when he could hardly get out of bed. she definitely was duplicitous about that. i think it would have made a huge difference if she had not lied to the american people basically about his condition. she knew that he wanted to stay in office and all she cared about was what he wanted. she was not thinking about the country. certainly if he had resigned the vice president would have taken over. the vice president would have compromised. we would have joined the league of nations and the question gets trickier. would that have made a
difference? some people say if we had joined the league of nations there wouldn't have been world war ii. if there was a league of nations, we weren't in it but it did nothing to stop world war ii. in 1937, agreed study showed 70%, a gallup poll showed that 70% of the american people thought it had been a mistake to go into world war i. this was in 1937. we were a very isolationist country at that time. even if we had joined the league of nations it would have been with those amendments which would have meant we wouldn't have had to do whatever the league of nations determined. i don't think at the end of the day it would have made any difference but there are plenty of wilson scholars and some of them disagree with me. if you want the argument on the other side are wonder -- refer you to the biography just by
john wilson cooper that came out a couple years ago. he is very eloquent for the other side. thank you so much for coming. [applause] >> this event was part of the 2011 national book festival in washington d.c.. for more information visit l loc.gov/bookfast. >> now booktv sits down with william bass leaders the author of "death's acre" and founder of the forensic anthropology center. he talks about the high-profile cases and the impact the body farm has had on forensic anthropology. >> the body farm is a four acre facility on land that the university of tennessee and owns.
it is at university of tennessee hospital. it is a research area in which i had been looking at a very common question, how long has that individual been dead? it is a four acre facility in which i have been trying to document and scientifically determined the length of time since death. >> what prompted you to make the body farm? >> i have to give you a little history. i talk to 11 years at the university of kansas from 1960 to 71. work for law enforcement agents for their candid investigation. in the late 60s, 67-68 they were having problems with cattle
ranchers in western kansas. watch the old western movie the bad guy comes and and ride over the hills and they are gone. they don't do that these days. the bad guys bring in refrigerator trucks, drive out on these large ranches in kansas and oklahoma and texas and colorado and they kill the cows in the field and butchered them and hang them each up in the refrigerator truck and drive off. to rancher comes along three weeks later and finds all these carcasses in the field. the question is how long have they been dead? the police are interested in this because they need to know where in the sale of that meat they should begin to look. so the kansas bureau of investigation at that time the director was harold night. he wrote me a letter asking me
if i could look at cow carcassess to tell how long they had been dead. i looked at the literature and there really wasn't much in the literature. i would say there was almost nothing. it didn't deal with house anyway. so i wrote harold a letter telling him we don't know the answer to that but if you could answer to that
give you some data. how i came here june 1st of 1971. i knew the medical family in tennessee. i met him through the american academy of forensic scientists and i rode a forensic pathologist, the medical school in memphis. i wrote francisco and said i accepted the job from the university of tennessee and i will be joined in a few months and he wrote back immediately and said would you serve as forensic anthropologist for the medical examiner and i wrote back and said sure. in those days there were no e-mails so we had to write.
anyway to make a long story short i get here and he writes the 95 medical examiner's of tennessee that they have somebody on the staff to identify skillful remains. they said dead bodies. okay. wasn't long after june 1st when i arrived that bodies started coming for the medical examiner system. those were some that you saw -- to make a long story short i was so interested in that question, how long has somebody been dead, we didn't do it in kansas but here was the opportunity to begin that research. so i went to the dean in november of 71 and i said i need some land to put dead bodies on so i can study length of time of death. what do you say? he didn't say anything.
he picked up the phone book from the university and found the man from kansas who identified -- takes care of the land. i went to see him and started with a sow barn in the 1916s. the university raised pigs. they have all these extra south farms so they gave me a sow barn and that was the beginning of the body farm. the four acres i mentioned when we started this interview, did not start from 1980. the sour barn is 15 miles off campus. it takes 45 minutes to get out there and do your research and 45 minutes back. business was picking up. i was getting lots of bodies and the greatest program was going so i had dark girl dissertations with students doing research and are went back and said we need
some land. what you referred to as the body farm started essentially in 1980 but if you look at the history it was novembe when we first started. a facility if you want to say that in which we studied the changes that occur in the body determined how long they have been dead. >> where did this come from? >> initially the bodies came to the medical examiner system. in tennessee, if your body ends up in the medical examiner system, you are shot or something it goes to the medical examiner. there are a number of those bodies that are never claimed. they think every body is claimed
but they're not. and so in tennessee the cost of burying a john doe or a jane doe falls on the city or the county in which the death occurs. tennessee it cost about $700 to bury john doe or jane doe. and the way the economy is today they would much rather give me the body for nothing than to pay to have it buried and so i began to get bodies coming through the medical examiner system. as time went by and the word got out that i had a body farm studying various things, people started calling wondering if they could donate their bodies. they could donate their bodies. and so up until 2003 the most
bodies we got came through the medical examiner system. in 2003, the most bodies we got came through the donated collection which is what we have surrounding us here. from then on the donated collection steadily increased. last year we did 144 burials. this is essentially one every two days. the great majority of them are individuals who donated their bodies for research and for the modern skeletal installation we have. >> have you ever rejected a body? >> yes, we do. we don't take bodies with aids or communicable diseases. we don't want a student to come and end up with some disease.
>> how long do you keep a body in the body farm before it ends up in the lab? >> that depends on what research the body is involved in. if you have a graduate student who worked in a short-term project and the major research going on in the body farm, massive thesis or doctoral dissertations they normally do not stay more than a year. we have two long term faculty projects going on out there and one of those is by a former student who works in oak ridge which is the atomic energy facility. we have five bodies buried. we have them hooked up with pipes. and he is getting the compounds that are given off.
they have been out there for nine years so we're getting data on what is given off of a body. we were going first couple years but they get the same compound five years as the first year. we don't know. nobody knew that so we're leaving them to see. but normally they would stay not more than a year. >> do you have any other high-profile cases or your most memorable? >> i have a couple. richie valley -- a disk jockey from texas and an airplane pilot died on feb. third, 1959 in an airplane crash outside clear lake, i will. it is the crash that the song the day the music died is based
on that crash. i did an x-ray autopsy of the body of the big bopper. he was the only one that exited the plane. the plane took off in the middle of the night in a blinding snowstorm. it should not have been flying. the pilot gets off and gets confused and flew the airplane into the ground. the same happened in nantucket. he got confused and fluid into the ocean. the plane skid across an iowa farm field, stops, the only person that exited the plane was a big bopper sitting in the left rear seat and catapulted through the windshield or the roof of the plane and land on the other side of the fence. when he is found the other three are still in the plane.
the richardson family, is name was perry richardson, the richardson family wondered whether their loved one survived the crash and was going for help. they asked me if i would do an autopsy. they saw me on television. you see it is important. people watch your program. they wanted to know if i could do an autopsy of the big bopper and determine if he had survived the crash and was going for help. i think i can do that. the other major case i know you will say yes to, you know who in the birdie, charles lindbergh, his first child was kidnapped from princeton, new jersey where
they lived and was killed and a man who was convicted and executed for that death, i one of two foreign decanter apologists who looked at the skeletal material of the lindbergh baby. >> this facility really has made quite a difference in forensic anthropology? >> it has. it was the only one in existence. literally i have lectured 40 times around the country trying to convince universities that they ought to start a body farm and study length of times since the death because a major factor is climate. everybody dies -- we need one in arizona. we need one in new mexico. 2 son, arizona is low desert. albuquerque is high desert.
we need one in wisconsin. we need one in florida. there are today probably six or eight that are getting started. interesting there are three in texas. a big state. there isn't a lot of variation in the state of texas. >> how long did you run the facility? >> i was department head for 20 years. i still ran it after i retired. i worked part time. 28 or 29 years or something like that and then i retired and started writing books. >> what are you doing now? >> writing books. getting close to the end of that too. we signed a contract with harpercollins, our publishers to do three more nonfiction books and we have done two of them,
the bonus thief and the bone yard and the last one coming out in may of 2012. >> so you said you have done forensic anthropology and writing books and almost done with that. what is next? >> arrest. >> here are the top-selling titles that independent bookstores around the country according to indybound.org.