[MANUSCRIPT POLICE LOG BOOK, DETAILING 1,500 CRIMES COMMITTED BETWEEN 1919-1920]

Large format oblong ledger (49cm x 30cm). 500 printed pages filled out in ink manuscript, each with three entries per side providing the name, address, age, ethnicity, birthplace, birthplace of parents, literacy, and occupation of each person charged, followed by the allegation, time and place (Inside/Outside/Saloon/Dance Hall - delete as appropriate!), name and address of the complainant, name of the arresting officer, a detailed written description of the crime, and, finally, the action taken by the court. Completely filled, all in the same hand (presumably the desk officer at the station). Typed title label to the front pastedown states: "7th Detective District. / Number 1 / Opened 12-01 AM January 1, 1919 / 1925 Bathgate Avenue / Closed 12 Mid. June 26th 1920." Contemporary half calf over cloth boards. Very good, the binding cracked at the front inner-hinge and with wear and loss to the spine and extremities. The contents with the first page loose and clipped (loosing an entry column on either side), one other page detached and a little ragged at the edges, and with the occasional mark or nick elsewhere, are otherwise entirely complete and in very good order.

A fascinating and historically valuable insight into life in the Bronx at the end of the First World War. The cases include murder, rape, assault, robbery (from prams to diamond rings), hit and runs, drug smuggling, forgery, desertion (from the army), abandonment (of one's wife and children), possession of weapons, abduction, "seduction", and "malicious mischief". Those involved reflect the predominantly working class nature of the district, as well as its ethnic diversity, with a great range of nationalities and occupations represented. There are also a surprisingly high number of children (as young as eight, and of both genders) charged with offences, usually forms of robbery/burglary, for which they often operated in groups. Included are accounts of people being stabbed in the back in pool rooms, impersonating police officers, numerous bank robberies (resulting in "5 years in Sing Sing"), shootings in saloons, escaped fugitives, a woman selling home-brewed whisky that caused drinkers to go blind, a ten year old boy reported by his own mother for stealing $30 from her bedroom, and a father accusing his daughter of "remaining away from her home at night and keeping company with immoral and vicious persons". From 12 year old Sigmund Rydyesky setting fire to his classroom (landing him in the catholic protectory) and 75 year old Hugh Doon throwing milk bottles at children playing in front of his house ("discharged into the custody of his daughters"), to organised crime, exploding safes, sexual abuse and the desperation of poverty, the book moves in turn between the amusing, the thrilling, and the deeply tragic. The structural injustice commonly encountered by women, in particular, is highly apparent, with charges such as "procuring criminal abortions" appearing throughout, as well as the note "discharged" being commonly found in the "final action of court" box in rape cases. Indeed, in one case a fifteen year old girl is sent to a juvenile asylum for being "incorrigible", while her abuser is handed a suspended sentence. Containing an immense wealth of information, the log forms a rare survival and a fantastic piece of New York's history, showing the life of the city in all its diversity, and providing a window into the stories of thousands of lives.

Stock code: 18436

£2,250

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Published:


1919

Category

Crime / Detective
Non-fiction
Manuscripts
Military / History
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