True crimes exhibit opening to the public at KSU

Heather Scarlett

VIEW the Kent State University Special Collections and Archives homepage.

VIEW Kent State University Press’s true crime history series.

VIEW Jonathan Goodman’s obituary in the Guardian.

Jonathan Goodman, the late British crime historian, developed a life long passion for collecting true crime memorabilia that has now made its way to Kent State.

True crimes is the collecting and studying of documents, photos and artifacts associated with actual criminal cases.

Kent State’s Special Collections and Archives department purchased the collection and brought it over from England in January.

Goodman was best known for his novel “The Killing of Julia Wallace” and has written about 40 books according to the Telegraph Web site.

“He was the best known true crimes writer in the English speaking world during his lifetime,” said Albert Borowitz.

In a phone interview, Borowitz said, he and his wife Helen are the donators of the Borowitz Collection of true crimes currently housed in the KSU library.

He said that through his research in England he met Goodman who became acquainted with his writings and donations to the KSU archives department.

Borowitz said the collection of true crimes memorabilia is the study of criminal cases, which can lead to the compilation of unique materials related to a specific crime.

Cara Gilgenbach, head of Special Collections and Archives, said, “Goodman’s will specified that Kent State University would have first offer at his collection at the time of his death.”

“I’ve always been thrilled with his decision for the two collections to be housed together,” Borowitz said.

Scrapbooks part of collection

The new collection was purchased with donated money, but the specific value is not normally told for the security of the collection, Gilgenbach said.

“There are about 25 large boxes of material,” she said.

This new collection includes: research files, manuscripts, primary sources such as crime-related newspapers, correspondence and photographs.

Gilgenbach said there are some unique scrapbooks related to murder cases Goodman had collected.

One such scrapbook belonged to British police detective, Walter Dew, who helped capture the second most famous murderer in Great Britain, said


Publications from abroad

Some of the books written by Goodman were published by the Kent State University Press.

Will Underwood, director of the Kent State University Press, said the press is the scholarly publishing arm of the university.

Some of Goodman’s books that have been published by the KSU Press are “Murder on Several Occasions,” “The Passing of Starr Faithfull,” and “Tracks to Murder.”

“There is a synergy between the archives and the press,” said Underwood. “Our relationship with archives is the same with any other university department. If we can help them then they can help us.”

Underwood explained that archives departments are the places scholars go to find primary source materials like diaries and letters.

“Goodman’s collection is (made) of original material,” he said. “It is a gold mine for scholars and the mother load for what they do best.”

Preparing to meet the public

Gilgenbach said the Goodman collection is not yet open for viewing to the public because has not been catalogued, but later in the spring it will be exhibited.

Robin Katz is a second year graduate in the library and information science program who works in the archives department as a graduate assistant.

She said in an e-mail that a basic inventory has been taken of the collection and then stored in stable, acid-free boxes.

“Later, someone will process the collection, which means they will arrange and describe it in much more detail,” she wrote.

“He really used primary sources in his work and that is what archiving is all about,” Katz said. “(The collection) will be of value to teachers and people who do research in the true crimes.”

“They have at their finger tips information from a specialist in the field,” Gilgenbach said.

Goodman’s collection is based primarily on the 19th and 20th century, she said, which gives insight into the social and cultural history of the time periods.

Borowitz said the value of having Goodman’s unique collection at KSU is that it attracts other donors for the Special Collections and Archives department even it they aren’t related to the true crimes field.