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CRIME IN THE POPULAR MEDIA

The National Police Gazette 
[...] George Wilkes, started a little four-page paper called the Subterranean in 1844 to bur­row beneath the nefarious politics of New York City and bring forth into the light of day the monstrosities of vice which it dug up. Wilkes was only twenty-four and very active, so that he managed to dodge assassins and escape the police for nearly a year; but after his sixth arrest, his paper died. To him, as he languished in the Tombs, came Enoch E. Camp, a lawyer, and proposed that the two of them start a police gazette modeled [sic.] on the English papers of that character.... his suited Wilkes perfectly, and with Camp furnishing the funds and Wilkes the editorial enterprise, the National Police Gazette made its appearance on September 13, 1845. (Taken from: Mott, Frank Luther: History of American Magazines, 1850-1865, Harvard University Press, 2002)


Illustrated Police News (Boston)
Information about the Illustrated Police News (Boston) is scarce, but we do know it was published from roughly 1860-1904 in Boston, Massachusetts. Much like the National Police Gazette, it reported on crime through a sensationalist lens, appealing to a mass audience by weaving in sex, scandal and drama into its coverage. It did manage to have some notable content, including the publication of one of the few images of Billy the Kid whilst he was still alive--the original photograph that the magazine reproduced would sell for over $2 million in 2011. 

 

"National Police Gazette." National Police Gazette, 27 Dec. 1845

"Romance in the Life of a Man Who Is Known as the King of Smugglers." National Police Gazette, 18 Aug. 1900

"Points for Peelers." Illustrated Police News, 16 Apr. 1898

"Charge of Wife Poisoning." Illustrated Police News, 28 Nov. 1874
 

DETECTIVE AGENCY FILES

The Records of the Wood Detective Agency span the years 1865-1934. The collection includes accounts, articles, biographies, cartes-de-visite, case notes, correspondence, clippings, photographs, speeches, statements, tintypes and wanted posters. The main body of the material relates to criminals and criminal activities occurring in the United States, particularly New England. The photographic material in the collection offers glimpses at both the criminal and victim. Additional material in the photographic collection includes ballistics readings, handwriting analysis and portraits of infamous murderers such as Jesse Pomeroy, Russell Noble and Byron Pettibone.

Pinkerton's National Detective Agency Records detail the running of Pinkerton's New York Office from 1865 to 1875, a period in which the agency was protecting Midwestern railways and establishing its reputation on the frontier. The collection contains a daily journal of the New York office from October 27, 1865 to March 26, 1866 and Allan Pinkerton's correspondence with George H. Bangs, the General Superintendent of the New York office from February 7, 1869 to December 31, 1870. Students of both politics and criminal justice will also appreciate the detailed records of Pinkerton's interviews and surveillance.


George H. Bangs (General Superintendent of the New York Office) Feb. 7, 1869 - Jan. 5, 1870. February 7, 1869-December 31, 1870. MS Pinkerton's National Detective Agency Records, 1853-1999, Letterpress Books and Miscellaneous Reports: Letterpress Copybooks, 1861-1883. Library of Congress

New York Office Daily Journal Oct. 27, 1865 - Mar. 26, 1866. October 27, 1865-March 26, 1866. MS Pinkerton's National Detective Agency Records, 1853-1999, Letterpress Books and Miscellaneous Reports: Letterpress Copybooks, 1861-1883. Library of Congress

Frazer, Alan C. Du Bois, Edith. Account of Her Murder by Charles Du Bois, 1932. Written by Alan C. Frazer. 1932. TS Wood Detective Agency Records, 1865-1945: Series IV. Clippings of the Cases of James Rodney Wood Jr., 1778-1928 Box 5, Folder 73. Harvard University Law Library

Scrapbook from the Files of James Rodney Wood, Boston Detective, 1926-1931. 1926-1931. MS Wood Detective Agency Records, 1865-1945: Series IV. Clippings of the Cases of James Rodney Wood Jr., 1778-1928 Box 6, Folder 1. Harvard University Law Library
 

POLICING IN THE UK AND IRELAND

In the United Kingdom in the 1700s, the majority of crime was dealt with locally and handled privately between opposing parties, with only the most serious offenses ending up in the courts. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, however, crime levels began to escalate, and the kingdom's criminal justice system had to improve and modernize accordingly. The documents featured in the Records from The U.K. National Archive, which date from 1780 to 1926, help articulate that transition by showcasing the inner workings of the courts, prisons, and policing forces charged with maintaining the public order during that time. The diverse assortment of documents in this collection covers a wide range of subjects and will be valuable to researchers interested in crime and the courts in the United Kingdom from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century.

This collection contains a diverse range of documents, including numerous ledgers titled “Calendars of Prisoners”, transcripts of court testimonies, summaries of cases, and even improprieties by various members of the constabulary and their subsequent punishments. Files contain details of lesser known crimes alongside some of the UK's most notorious criminals, including Amelia Dyer (1836-1896) who murdered infants after moving into "baby farming" to support herself financially. Among the monographs are insights into the practices of police forces to complement the information on criminal activities, including guides and manuals for police forces in both England and Ireland. 


Brownrigg, Henry John. HO 184/246: A Manual of Drill for the Constabulary Force of Ireland. Printed by Alex. Thom & Sons, 1859

MEPO 8/17: Metropolitan Police: Instruction Book for the Government and Guidance of the Metropolitan Police Force. Printed for Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1893

CRIM 1/44/10: Defendant: Dyer, Amelia. Charge: Murder. Defendant: Palmer, Arthur Ernest. Charge: Accessory after the fact. May 1896. MS Crime and the Criminal Justice System: Records from The U.K. National Archives: CRIM 1 Records of the Central Criminal Court, Central Criminal Court: Depositions CRIM 1/44/10. The National Archives (Kew, United Kingdom)
CRIM 1/29/5: Defendant: Tilley, Sabina Charge: Murder. 7th March 1888-14th March 1888. MS Crime and the Criminal Justice System: Records from The U.K. National Archives: CRIM 1 Records of the Central Criminal Court, Central Criminal Court: Depositions CRIM 1/29/5. The National Archives (Kew, United Kingdom)
 

QUEENSLAND POLICE GAZETTE

The Queensland Police Gazette was established in 1864 as an internal resource for the local police force in Queensland, Australia, and continued publication in hardcover form until October 17, 1997. This archive contains issues of the Gazette from 1867 to 1907. This was a period of immense change for Australia. Queensland had only recently become an independent colony, in 1867 (the date of the earliest materials in the archive), and in 1901 Australia became an independent country. And because Australia was originally settled to a significant extent by convicts transported to the country from Great Britain—about twenty percent of modern Australians have convicts in their family tree—Australia's relationship to criminality has generally been fraught throughout history.

 

"Highway Robbery and Stealing from the Person." Queensland Police Gazette, 1 Aug. 1885

"Description of Portraits, with Previous 'Gazette' References." Queensland Police Gazette, 23 Sept. 1899

"Felonies and Offences Not Otherwise Described." Queensland Police Gazette, 23 Apr. 1892

"Arrests Reported during the Week Ended 2nd December, 1899." Queensland Police Gazette, 9 Dec. 1899
 

WOMEN'S (RARE) DETECTIVE FICTION

The Detective's Album (Mary Fortune, 1871)

Some of the printed matter in this archive is very scarce, such as Mary Fortune's 1871 The Detective's Album, a pioneering police procedural by a woman author, of which only two hard copies survive. 

In 1855, a young woman named Mary Helena Fortune travelled from Canada to Australia, with the commission of writing about the goldfields for an English magazine, The Ladies’ Companion. Though she never actually supplied the requested articles, she was to have a long and significant auctorial career in Australia. For over fifty years she published under the pseudonyms ‘Waif Wander’, ‘W. W.’ and her initials, ‘M. H. F.’, in newspapers and popular magazines. The Detective’s Album is described in Macartney and Miller’s Australian Literature (1956) as the ‘first book of detective stories to appear in Australia, by the first woman writer of such stories’. This wording is ambiguous, as if Miller was hesitant to claim that ‘W. W.’ was the first female detective author worldwide. However, at the time the only other claimant for this title was the American Anna Katharine Green, whose immensely popular The Leavenworth Case (1878) had appeared some seven years after The Detective’s Album.

Adapted from: https://victorianfictionresearchguides.org/mary-fortune/

 

W. W. The Detective's Album: Tales of the Australian Police: by W. W. Clarson, Massina, & Co., Printers and Publishers, 1871


The Leavenworth Case (Anna Katharine Green, 1878)

With the publication of The Leavenworth Case in 1878, Anna Katharine Green launched her career, earning the title Mother of Detective Fiction. In this book, she introduced her serial detective Ebenezer Gryce, a member of New York’s Metropolitan Police Force who made his way up the ladder to become a detective inspector and win the hearts of faithful readers. At the time, Green was thirty-two years old, single, and a college graduate. A quiet but determined woman, she had been writing since childhood, trying her hand at poetry and drama before finding her metier in detective fiction. In the 1920s, detective fiction was entering its Golden Age, and other women in England and the United States had begun to establish careers as writers of detective fiction. For these writers, the legacy of Anna Katharine Green was particularly significant. A woman who had a successful professional career, Anna Katharine Green not only was skilled at her craft, she also provided a voice for society’s victims in her fiction. When she died at her home in Buffalo on 11 April 1935, she had achieved fame for fiction that challenged readers to think, to reconsider social conditions, and—most of all—to enjoy the thrill of a good mystery.

Adapted from: Maida, Patricia D. "Green, Anna Katharine (1846-1935)." Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of Crime, Detection, and Espionage, edited by Robin W. Winks and Maureen Corrigan, vol. 1, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1998

 

Green, Anna Katharine. The Leavenworth Case: A Lawyer's Story: by Anna Katharine Green. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1878
 

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