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Borowitz Collection

| Biographical Note | Books | Manuscripts, Ephemera, Artifacts, and Archival Collections |

Scope and Content

This extensive collection includes both primary and secondary sources on crime as well as works of literature based on true crime incidents. The collection documents the history of crime, with primary emphasis on the United States, England, France, and Germany from ancient times to the present day. It includes groups of materials on specific criminal cases which have had notable impacts on art, literature, and social attitudes. This provides the researcher with a wealth of material on those cases and their cultural effects. The collection is comprised of a variety of formats including books, manuscripts, ephemeral materials, artifacts, and audio-visual media.

Although true crime is the primary focus of the Borowitz Collection, it also contains notable holdings in several other topics and genres. A handful of these are listed under the captions "Books" and "Manuscripts, Ephemera, and Archival Collections" below. Other prominent materials include a large group of press photos, and a vast collection of sheet music which spans more than two centuries of musical achievement and taste. Distinguished author collections include the works of Arthur Machen, Henry James, John Galsworthy, and John Cowper Powys. New material is added to the collection on a continual basis. Please check back often for updates and additions to our finding aids.

Biographical Note

Albert and Helen Borowitz have been collecting in the area of true crime literature for many years. Albert Borowitz started collecting at the age of 12 when he asked his father, prominent book collector David Borowitz, to buy an edition of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories for him. Arising from the shared interest of father and son, the fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle is now one of the many high points of the Borowitz Collection at Kent State University.

Albert Borowitz is a graduate of Harvard University with a B.A. in classics, an M.A. in Chinese regional studies, and a J.D. He is the author of numerous books and articles on true crime, including The Bermondsey Horror (1989), a nominee for the Gold Dagger award for true crime given by the Crime Writers' Association. Other true crime books written by Borowitz include Innocence and Arsenic: Studies in Crime and Literature (1977), A Gallery of Sinister Perspectives: Ten Crimes and a Scandal (1982),and The Thurtell-Hunt Murder Case: Dark Mirror to Regency England (1987). He coined the now commonly-used phrase, "psychological kidnapping," in his article "Psychological Kidnapping in Italy: the Case of Aldo Braibanti" in the American Bar Association Journal 57 (Oct. 1971): 990-995. Borowitz has also collaborated with his wife, Helen Osterman Borowitz, on book projects, including Pawnshop and Palaces: the Fall and Rise of the Campana Art Museum (1991). He is a retired partner of the international law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. Albert Borowitz's personal and professional papers are included in the collection.

Helen Osterman Borowitz, an art historian with literary interests, is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Radcliffe College and of Case Western Reserve University. She was formerly associate curator of the Department of Art History and Education at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Her articles have appeared in Art Journal, Criticism, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, and Modern Fiction Studies, among others. She is the author of several books, including The Impact of Art on French Literature: from Scudéry to Proust (1985).

Albert Borowitz's book, Blood & Ink: An International Guide to Fact-Based Crime Literature (2002) is an annotated bibliography which describes some of the items in the Borowitz Collection. The Borowitzes began donating their extensive collection to Kent State University in 1989.


The Borowitz Collection includes over 10,000 books, and while the main subject focus of this book collection is crime history and fact-based crime literature (or true crime literature), the collection has other special subject emphases as well. Listed here are some of the major subjects represented with links to a list of the titles for each subject. The books are cataloged in the Kent State University Libraries and Media Services' online catalog, KentLINK. Researchers are encouraged to search for topics of interest in KentLINK (at in addition to following the links below. Additionally, researchers should contact the Department of Special Collections and Archives at Kent State University for further assistance in researching and using this large and interesting collection of books. There are many connections between the book collection and other formats in the Borowitz Collection such as manuscripts, ephemera, archival collections, and artifacts.

» True Crime
KentLINK Keyword search: true and crime and literature
This category of books in the Borowitz Collection includes crime histories, case studies, and works of historical fiction based on actual criminal cases.

» Jack the Ripper
KentLINK Keyword search: ripper and borowitz
The Borowitz Collection of true crime literature includes a large collection of items relating to the Whitechapel murders. This book collection is complemented by a collection of Ripper ephemera and other non-book materials.

» Wild West Collection
KentLINK Subject search: borowitz collection wild west collection
Books on western outlaws and lawmen, notably Billy the Kid, Jesse James, the Dalton Gang, and Wyatt Earp.

» Mystery and Detective Fiction
KentLINK Keyword search: mystery and (detective fiction) and borowitz
The Borowitz Collection includes an extensive collection of works of mystery and detective fiction.

» Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle
KentLINK Keyword search: (a:doyle or s:holmes) and borowitz
The Borowitz Collection includes an excellent collection of books by Arthur Conan Doyle. (Note: The Borowitz Crime Manuscripts include a group of correspondence to and from physician Joseph Bell, Doyle's medical school teacher and model for his Sherlock Holmes character.)

» Humor Collection
KentLINK Subject search: borowitz collection humor collection
A smaller, but fine collection of literary humor

» Arthur Machen Collection
KentLINK Keyword search: machen and borowitz
The Borowitz Collection includes a group of books by and about British author Arthur Machen in addition to a collection of correspondence between Machen and book collector Montgomery Evans. (The manuscript collection is in process; check back at a later date for a fuller description of those items.)

Manuscripts, Ephemera, Artifacts, and Archival Collections

Please note that many of the collections listed below are only partially cataloged at this time. Materials are added to these lists on a continual basis. Check back often for updates, and call the Department of Special Collections and Archives for details on holdings.


» Borowitz Crime Manuscripts, 1663-ongoing

This collection includes a variety of manuscript materials relating to true crime and to crime, detective, and mystery writing.

» Borowitz Crime Manuscripts: Joseph Bell Collection, 1899-1953
The collection includes three letters from Joseph Bell to his longtime friend, the Rev. Hugh Black. The collection also includes correspondence between Black's son, Robert K. Black, and Vincent Starrett. Robert K. Black relates anecdotes that his father had told about Joseph Bell and describes (and transcribes) five Bell letters that his elderly father had found among his papers.

» Borowitz Crime Manuscripts: Richard Austin Freeman, Correspondence, 1920-41
The collection includes letters to Vincent Starrett discussing Freeman's work, publications, and his hope to become better known in America. There is also a letter to P.M. Stone, describing his writing, and a letter from Vincent Starrett to Dave Borowitz presenting Freeman's autograph letters.

» Borowitz Crime Manuscripts: Charles George Hodgson Collection, 1812-1868
This collection includes various correspondence and papers both written and received by Charles George Hodgson who served as Superintendant of the London City Police Force. The collection includes both personal letters and several dealing with professional matters and police business. Letters pertaining to the forgery through photography case of Pietro Rinaldi v. the Queen are also present.


» American Crime Pamphlet Collection
KentLINK Subject search: borowitz collection american crime pamphlet collection
Pamphlets (usually 32 pages or fewer and bound in paper wrappers) about murders, executions, scandals, outlaws, etc. The majority of the pamphlets were published in the 19th century.

» British Crime Pamphlet Collection
KentLINK Subject search: borowitz collection british crime pamphlet collection
Crime pamphlets from Great Britain, mostly 18th-19th century publications.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Board Games, 1958; 1990
Contains crime-themed board games.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Crime-Related Playbills and Programs, [1875-ongoing]
This collection consists of playbills from crime-related plays, musicals, operas, etc., fact-based or otherwise.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Crime-Related Postcards, [190?-199?]
This collection contains miscellaneous postcards related to crime.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Criminal Broadsides of 19th-Century England
In the early nineteenth century, much of the news of England's murders and executions was brought to the masses through penny and half-penny broadsides. The execution broadsides, which comprise most of this collection, usually describe the crime, trial, and hanging, and often provide verses emphasizing the sorrow and remorse of the convicted killer.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Criminal Broadsides of America, 1820-1926
This collection contains criminal broadsides of the United States dating from the 19th- and 20th-centuries.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Film Stills and Lobby Cards, 1958-82
This collection consists of film stills (photographs) and lobby card posters from crime-related movies. »

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Jack the Ripper Collection, 1888-2006
This collection contains ephemeral material related to Jack the Ripper and other "Ripper"-style murderers. Included are films, manuscripts, artifacts, penny dreadfuls (facsimiles), and other ephemeral materials.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Lindbergh Kidnapping Collection, 1927-1992
A collection of ephemera, including newspaper clippings, press photos, and other material related to the Lindbergh kidnapping case.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Lindbergh Kidnapping Case, Photographs, 1932
A collection of press photographs related to the Lindbergh Case.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Newspaper Articles Relating to Criminal Cases, 1823-1921
This collection contains newspaper articles and issue relating to various murder cases. Most of the articles are photocopies and are contemporaneous to the time of murders and trials.

» Borowitz Crime Ephemera: Prison Postcards, [19??]
This collection consists of postcards of prisons from the United States and a handful of other countries.

» Borowitz Sheet Music Collection, ca. 1850-1985
This collection of nearly 7000 pieces of sheet music contains a wide variety of music from the mid-19th century to contemporary music of the mid-1980s. Some notable large holdings include composers Irving Berlin, George M. Cohan, Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Harry Warren and performers and productions such as Al Jolson and the Ziegfeld Follies.

» Street Ballads of Victorian England, [circa 1850-1870]
This collection contains 175 English street ballads, printed on portions of broadside sheets, dating from around 1850-1870. The ballads centered on popular subject matter such as love, sex, marriage, politics, religion, fantastic tales, humorous anecdotes, and social reform.


» Borowitz Crime-related Artifacts, [ca. 1820-ongoing]
A collection of artifacts (sculptures, objects, memorabilia, and textiles) related to true crime and its impact on the arts and literature. Many of the artifacts in this collection are related to cases covered in the Borowitz book and archival collections.

Archival Collections

» Detective and True Crime Magazines, 1930-1987
A small collection of detective and true crime magazines, most of which date from 1939-1955. Included are many issues of Official Detective Stories and True Detective.

» Crime-related Films, 1916-2004
A small collection of selected films related to materials in the Borowitz Crime Collection. New selections will be added on a continual basis.

» Borowitz Crime Photographs, [187?]-[1969]
This collection contains over 500 photographs related to various criminal cases. Most are 20th-century press photos, but some 19th-century examples are also included.

» Crime-Related Sheet Music, 1878-1985
This collection includes popular sheet music related to true crime incidents and crime-related themes.

» Borowitz Crime Subject Files, 1940-[ongoing]
This collection contains subject files on various prominent murder cases and other crimes. Files, most of which date from the 1990s, contain articles, clippings, essays, and other secondary sources.

| Scope & Content | Biographical Note | Books | Manuscripts, Ephemera, Artifacts, and Archival Collections |