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Prepared by Kate Medicus, May 10, 2000; Revised by Cara Gilgenbach, April 2010; Last Updated: October 2020
Inclusive Dates: 1663-2005
Extent: 1.16 cubic feet (3 document cases, 1 boxed volume)
Physical Location: 11th floor
Scope and Content: This collection includes a variety of manuscript materials relating to true crime and to crime, detective, and mystery writing.
Arrangement: The collection is arranged in chronological order with undated items placed at the the end of the chronological order. Some items have been boxed separately due to their size.
Acquisition Information: Most of the collection is the gift of Albert and Helen Borowitz; some items have been purchased to complement the Borowitz Collection.
Restrictions on Use: Materials described below are the copyright of their respective authors. This material may not be published without permission of copyright owners.
Folder -- Contents
1. 1824; 1828. Two letters written by William Probert, who, with Thurtell and Hunt, murdered William Weare.
-- 1824, Feb. 6. Probert, William. To Mr. Howard. [autograph letter, signed], 2 p.
-- 1828, Apr. 21. Probert, William. To Mr. Cotton. [autograph letter, signed], 1 p.
Probert asks Mr. Cotton to provide him with the names of the jury members who tried his case as his brother-in-law has received a "Petition" to meet with them.
2. [1663?], Nov. 13. Glanvill, Joseph, [Selwood, Somerset, England]. To Henry More. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Provides More with information about the "demon" drummer at Tedworth house in Wiltshire.
3. 1822, Dec. 30. Webster, John, Boston, Mass. To Sir. [autograph letter, signed]. 1 p.
Professor Webster [murderer in the Harvard murder case 27 years after this letter was written--see 1850 Everett letter below] asks the recipient to obtain mineral samples for addition to the Professor's collection. [Note by Albert Borowitz: "This mineral collection later figured in the murder, because Webster had dishonestly made a double pledge of his mineral collection to his victim Parkman and another creditor as well."]
4. 1842, Apr. 15. Vidocq, Eugene Francois, Paris, [France]. To Louis, Gandoix, Jr. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Response to a letter of inquiry about engaging Vidocq to recover a debt; Vidocq outlines his terms and the information he will require in order to take on the case.
5. 1850, Apr. 9. Everett, William Abbot (d. 1912), Cambridge, [Mass.]. To [Samuel] Abbot [Smith]. [autograph letter, signed]. 3 p.
Writes to a relative in Peterboro, New Hampshire, about the trial of Professor John Webster for the murder of Dr. George Parkman (the so-called Harvard murder case).
6. 1855, Dec. Smith, Madeleine. To Mr. [Pierre] L'Angelier, Glasgow. [autograph letter, signed]. 4 p.
Writes about their assignations and plans to marry. Signs as "Mimi L'Angelier."
7. 1865, Jan.?. Harrison, Richard, [Salem, Columbiana County, Ohio]. To "Mr. Editor" [autograph letter, signed]. 4 p.
Harrison writes to a newspaper editor to set the record straight about an attack on him with a gun by a person named Wright. The misinformation was published in the "Buckeye." Harrison describes the attack and his wounds, mentions Salem and New Lisbon, and the "Deerfield murderer."
8. circa 1870. Gaboriau, Emile, 1832-1873. Deux gazetiers [holograph manuscript]. 6 p.
Original unpublished story in the detective fiction genre with brawls, escapes, and murder. Signed by the author on p. 6.
9. 1887, July 1. H.M. Prison, Newgate, Orderly Officer's Report. Signed by L. Ahern. [printed form with added notes].
It is noted that the condemned prisoners were visited at 2:30 A.M. and were found asleep.
10. 1891, Oct. 31. Joseph, C.S., Whitehall, [London, England]. To The Governor, H. M. Prison. 2 p.
Circular letter reproduced on the letterhead of The Prison Department, Home Office, Whitehall, S.W. The letter relates to the history of English capital punishment. The signatory advises that the Home Secretary will no longer recommend the employment of James Berry (a famous hangman in his day) as executioner. An attachment lists three competent candidates for the office of executioner kept at the Home Office.
11. 1896, Dec. 2. Coffin, E. G. Columbus, Ohio. To the "Hon. Probate Judge". Canton, Ohio. [typed letter, signed] 1p. [on Ohio Penitentiary letterhead].
Warden of the Ohio Penitentiary states that James Carr, "an insane prisoner" from Stark County will be discharged from the facility on Dec. 9, 1896. Requests that an officer be sent to take charge of the prisoner upon release. Verso of letter contains holograph note: "James Carr; Notice to [remove?] from O.P.; filed Dec. 4, 1896; Henry A. [surname illegible]."
12. 1900, August [32nd and 33rd weeks]. Dougal, Samuel Herbert. Diary leaf. [holograph]. 1 leaf. [Includes photocopy of formal charge against Dougal (forgery of documents?) and photograph of Moat Farm].
Diary entries consist of notes about weather, farming activities, expenditures, and repairs to equipment. [Dougal was convicted of the murder of Camille Cecile Holland at Moat Farm and was executed in July, 1903].
13. 1907, Sept. 14. Hankin, St. John [Emile Clavering]. To Mrs. [Marie Belloc] Lowndes. [autograph inscription, signed].
Lengthy inscription in this presentation copy of Three Plays with Happy Endings (Special Collections PR6015.A47 T47 1907). Hankin describes his automobile accident and concludes "I am unkilled--so it won't 'boom' the plays! A pity!" This inscription was written two years before his suicide.
14. 1909, Feb. 16. Burke, Thomas, 1887-1945, Clapham, [England]. To Stanley Acton. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Accepts an advance for a series of stories.
15. 1909; 1911. Correspondence related to Notable English Trials. Trial of the Stauntons. [Edited by J. B. Atlay. 1st edition, 1911]:
-- 1909, Sept. 7. W. Hodge & Co. To George R. Sims. [typewritten letter, signed]. 1 p.
Informs Sims of the publication of Notable English Trials and asks for suggestions for suitable trials to include in future volumes.
-- 1911, March 13. Cleary, James. To "Dagonet." [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Cleary indicates that the Trial of the Stauntons publication is causing those involved in the case much pain and disturbance.
-- 1911, March 24. Atlay, J. B. To [George R.] Sims. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Thanks Sims for sending the Cleary letter to him and corrects some of the criticisms expressed in it.
16. 1910, Oct. 31. Crippen, H[awley] H[arvey]. To Lady Somerset. [autograph letter, signed]. 1 p.
"Eighty years before John Boyle, Crippen, a doctor trained in Cleveland, poisoned his wife and buried her under the cellar floor of their London residence. Lady Somerset was one of Crippen's public supporters. Crippen was soon hanged after writing the letter" (Gallery of Sinister Perspectives, entry I3). The letter is written on prison-supplied stationery, the verso of which contains "regulations as to communications" and instructions for sending replies to inmates.
17. 1919, June-1931, March. Cavolo, Charles. Daybooks [written as a Cleveland, Ohio, police detective]. Autograph manuscript, signed, in two volumes, roughly 400 pages each, but not all pages contain writing.
Physical Location: Shelved in a separate box.
Historical Note: Cavolo was the Cleveland police detective largely responsible for the capture of the Sly-Fanner gang.
18. 1919, Nov. 1. Armstrong, Herbert Rowse, d. 1922. Cancelled check payable to A. Phillips, signed by Armstrong. [autograph document, signed]. 1p.
Accompanied by an imprint of Armstrong's Notary Public seal and eight postcards of Hay-on-Wye. Removed from Trial of Herbert Rowse Armstrong, Special Collections call number KD373.A7 Y6 1927. [Armstrong, a Hay-on-Wye solicitor, was executed in 1922 for the poisoning death of his wife, Katherine. See Blood & Ink, F.21.]
19. 1929, March 27. Roughhead, William, 1870-1952. To M[ontague] R[hodes] James. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Hopes that the book [Twelve Scots Trials] he sent to James [a famous ghost-story writer] will not disappoint. Says he will ask his friend Hugh Walpole to talk with Macmillan about a new edition of The House by the Churchyard. Briefly discusses other writing projects and his attempts to locate copies of two books by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu--Haunted Lives and Chronicles of Golden Friars.
20. 1935, June 13-21. Correspondence related to the Rattenbury-Stoner Case:
Historical Note: F. Tennyson Jesse edited the case for Notable British Trials. O'Donnell was called to the murder scene and testified at the trial.
-- 1935, June 13. O'Donnell, Dr. William. To Sir. [autograph letter, signed]. 1 p.
Agrees to be interviewed by F. Tennyson Jesse.
-- 1935, June 19. O'Donnell, Dr. William. To [F.] Tennyson Jesse. [autograph letter, signed]. 14 p.
Discusses the case.
-- 1935, June 21. O' Donnell, Dr. William. To [F.] Tennyson Jesse. [autograph letter, signed]. 7 p.
Discusses the case.
21. 1943, Feb. 18. Roughead, William, 1870-1952, Edinburgh, [Scotland]. To Mr. [James] Agate. [autograph letter, signed]. 2 p.
Acknowledges Agate's plans to write about Jessie M'Intosh M'Lachlan and then lists his own writings on the subject. Presents as a gift for Mr. Agate a copy of his book on the case that appeared in the Notable Scottish Trials series.
22. 1977, Nov. 8. S., J., [London, England]. To Marian Babson. [postcard, signed].
Thanks for providing information to Miss von der Driesch.
Folder -- Contents
1. 1984, May 25. [Acton], Harold. [Florence, Italy]. To "Douglass." [autograph postcard, signed].
States that if Douglass ever returns to Florence, he would be happy to meet. He was much worried about the [Continental Illinois Bank?] crisis as his family was closely connected to the bank.
Historical Note: Acton wrote The Pazzi Conspiracy: The Plot against the Medici which is discussed in entry A.2 of Blood & Ink: An International Guide to Fact-Based Crime Literature by Albert Borowitz.
2. 1990? Landsman, Stephan A. "From Gilbert to Bentham: The Reconceptualization of the Law of Evidence" [typed document]. 69 p.
This is a manuscript of an article published in Wayne Law Review, v. 36 (Spring 1990) p. 1149-86.
3. 1990? Landsman, Stephan A. "The Rise of the Contentious Spirit: Adversary Procedure in Eighteenth Century England" [typed document]. 245,  p.
This is a manuscript of an article published in Cornell Law Review, v. 75 (March 1990) p. 497-609.
4. 1999; 2000. Glass, Alan. Love in a Thirsty Land: A Play in Two Acts. [typescript, signed]. 94 p.
Accompanied by a typed letter, signed from Glass to Albert Borowitz, March 15, 2000, and a signed playbill from The Jewish Repertory Theater production of the play in 2000. The play is partially based on a case involving a young Jewish immigrant named Pesach Rubenstein, accused of murdering his pregnant lover in 1870's Brooklyn, New York.
5. 2005. Nigro, Don. My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon: A play by Don Nigro. [typescript, signed]. 149 p.
Accompanied by a typed letter, signed from Nigro to Albert Borowitz, July 19, 2006. This play is based on the Harry K. Thaw, Evelyn Nesbitt Thaw, and Stanford White love triangle, a result of which was Harry K. Thaw's murder of White.
6. No year, Apr. 3. Mason, A[lfred] E[dward] W[oodley], 1865-1948, [London, England]. To Reginald Smith. [autograph letter, signed]. 1 p.
Arranges for him to manage "things" from June to August.
7. Undated. Goodman, Jonathan. The Passing of Starr Faithful. [corrected typescript]. 279 leaves. [in three folders].
8. Undated. Guiteau, Charles. [autograph].
Signature of Charles Guiteau, assassin of President Garfield.
9. Undated. Johnson, Pamela Hansford. Adelaide. A Novel by Pamela Hansford Johnson. 267 leaves. Typescript with autograph notes and edits throughout. This is an unpublished manuscript.
Physical Location: Shelved in a separate box.
Author's Note: "I might call my book a Commentary rather than a novel. The salient facts are based on the transcript of the trial in 1886, of Adelaide Bartlett for the murder of her husband by administering liquid chloroform. The transcript was published in 1886, by Stevens and Haynes, and edited by one of Adelaide's counsel, Edward Beal. The rest is my own conjecture based upon evidence. Any syntactical or stylistic errors in the trial scenes also occur in the transcript."