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Is the marginalia genuine?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Dr. John Watson View Post
    I'd describe them as "most likely genuine," but two things have always bothered me. First, Swanson obviously intended his notes to be read by someone, else why initial the entries to insure they could properly be attributed to him? People don't normally sign or initial diary entries, for instance, or notes to themselves. Which begs the question, who was Swanson writing for? Who was his intended audience? And if he was hoping to add to the general knowledge of the subject, why hide the notes in the margins and blank pages of someone else's autobiography, presumably destined to gather dust among similar texts in a bookcase somewhere?

    Curious John
    People in jobs which involve record-keeping and the possibility that records might be kept and referred back to always initial their log entries. This is good practise and, I am sure, would have been insisted upon within the police service during DSS's service. Thus, he was used to the practice. It is also encouraged so that any log entries may easily be traced back to the author.

    My view is that DSS initialled his notes out of habit and professional pride. In the unlikely event that anyone should discover them after his death, there was the signature to confirm authorship.

    I would have thought, Dr. Watson, that during your career, you might have had occasion to initial documents. Other doctors do it all the time.

    Best wishes,
    Steve.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by Dr. John Watson View Post
      I'd describe them as "most likely genuine," but two things have always bothered me.
      First, Swanson obviously intended his notes to be read by someone, else why initial the entries to insure they could properly be attributed to him? People don't normally sign or initial diary entries, for instance, or notes to themselves.
      Hi John.

      Public officials working within a large Victorian bureaucracy would be used to reading immense quantities of documents, making notations and comments, and then initialing them. Even in cases where written comments were not added, papers were typically initialed to show that they had been read.

      I've seen numerous examples of this, including notes and initials contained within the pages of books belonging to an individual's private library. I'm not sure all personal notes always have an intended audience. I can see how it might simply have been an ingrained habit.

      I often pen notes in the margins and endpapers of my own books. I seldom initial them, but then again I've never been a 19th C. public official.

      Best regards,
      Archaic

      PS: My Dad was an aerospace executive and program manager who had to read, comment upon, sign and initial all kinds of documents and reports on a daily basis. He frequently initialed the notes he made for his own personal use, even after he had retired and taken up family genealogy as a hobby. I come across his initialed notes all the time.

      Comment


      • #33
        Hi Steven, looks like our posts crossed. I agree with you.

        I remember as a teenager finding my father's handwritten memo listing various chores he intended to do that weekend.

        He actually wrote a heading for it in his careful engineer's block-letters : "John- Jobs To Be Done Around The House This Weekend".
        I laughed myself silly when I read it and teased him about it for years.

        Best regards,
        Archaic

        Comment


        • #34
          Yep, I'm sure you both have put your finger on it. I work in a medium-sized university and our accounting people insist that every expenditure over a certain amount be properly authorised. Same goes for HR if employees are requesting leave, or sick time or whatnot. Much of this is now done electronically but, even so, I have to stick my initials on dozens of paper documents every week.

          Recently, at work, I jotted down the author and title of a book that I want to get and, when I got home, I saw that I had initialled the note. Just force of habit. It must have been second nature to someone like Swanson to initial the things he wrote.

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          • #35
            Yes, during my professional life (30+ years as police officer and legal investigator, not physician) I routinely initialed reports, memos, etc., but the habit never carried over to personal notes written for myself in a private setting. I'm sorry, I just don't see the similarity between initialing reports at work or at school or wherever, and doing the same with personal comments in the margins of a book. Putting your initials on something is identifying yourself as the author; it's done for attribution. I'm suspicious in Swanson's case, because I've come across numerous examples of fraudulent writings as a genealogist and family historian, several of which involve the appearence of a writer's signature where none is expected - as in a private diary or prayer book. True, in Swanson's case only the initials are found (after every entry!) which does not suggest fraud, but which certainly suggest the writer expects his entries to be read by others and that he desires to lend credence to his writings by initialing them. Thus my question, to whom is Swanson directing his revelations - and why hide them in the margins of a book?

            Still Curious John
            "We reach. We grasp. And what is left at the end? A shadow."
            Sherlock Holmes, The Retired Colourman

            Comment


            • #36
              There are enough genuine mysteries in this confounded case without creating more, so I take the marginalia as genuine until some detail surfaces to the contrary.

              Having said that, I don't see the need to assume that all of what Swanson noted was his own opinion. Take the issue that the "witness was also a Jew", this was not stated in Anderson's book yet Swanson sought to clarify that fact. However, it was published in another source which must have come from Anderson.
              What I see is that Swanson may have been adding other details to the book by way of marginalia that he knew came from Anderson over the years. So I don't think we should assume that the marginalia are 'all' the opinions of Swanson, as if he is confirming Anderson, not necessarily so.

              Regards, Jon S.
              Regards, Jon S.

              Comment


              • #37
                Posterity

                Hi John.

                Perhaps Swanson was to some extent thinking of his personal posterity? By that I mean that in addition to making personal notations for himself while reading as many of us do, perhaps he also thought that someday his children or grand-children would inherit his library, and as they perused certain books might wonder what their forebear had thought about various issues, particularly regarding subjects with which he had been personally involved.
                For example, they might wonder if he agreed with whatever statements the book's author had made, or he knew any more about a particular issue. So Swanson penciled in some notes and initialed them from a combination of long habit and so his descendants would know that he was indeed the one who wrote them.

                To use my own father as an example again, he often told us that he wished he'd been able to ask his grandparents all kinds of questions about their lives, opinions, our family in Ireland, historical events, etc, but by the time he was old enough to think of all the questions he wanted to ask they had long since passed away. So he decided to do family genealogy based on the bits of information that had been passed down to his generation, and to also write down his personal thoughts, experiences, and opinions on all kinds of topics, just in case future generations of our family might be interested.

                Maybe Swanson was thinking of future generations of his own family? I doubt he ever imagined that 'Jack the Ripper' would ever be so popular and so contentious a topic as it is today, but I think it was perfectly natural for him to expect that his personal library would be passed down within his own family, and that some future descendant might be interested enough to read his notes. Of course he had to be more circumspect about what he said in public, so perhaps he felt more comfortable commenting within the pages of his own book. I think he wrote, initialed, and signed the notes from long habit and in the interest of clarity, and that he intended them only for the personal use of himself and his family.

                It doesn't seem all that mysterious to me. But if Swanson's family still happen to own other books from his personal library, it would be interesting to know if there are further examples of signed or initialed notes on less contentious topics.

                Best regards,
                Archaic

                Comment


                • #38
                  I agree with most people that the Marginalia are genuine but there is one possible chance they are a forgery which I don't think has been mooted so far. Like all theories of forgery it is far-fetched and stretches credulity.

                  The marginalia are written in pencil.

                  Swanson could have written 'Cohen was the suspect'. This name would have meant nothing to a pre-1988 forger and indeed it is not a very helpful name. Identifying a suspect of that name would have seemed wellnigh impossible.

                  The forger could have deleted 'Cohen' by use of a simple pencil eraser and substituted 'Kosminski' - a much more interesting and promising name, familiar from the McNaghten Memorandum, even if the forger had never heard of Aaron Kosminski.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Carrotty Nell View Post
                    I agree with most people that the Marginalia are genuine but there is one possible chance they are a forgery which I don't think has been mooted so far. Like all theories of forgery it is far-fetched and stretches credulity.

                    The marginalia are written in pencil.

                    Swanson could have written 'Cohen was the suspect'. This name would have meant nothing to a pre-1988 forger and indeed it is not a very helpful name. Identifying a suspect of that name would have seemed wellnigh impossible.

                    The forger could have deleted 'Cohen' by use of a simple pencil eraser and substituted 'Kosminski' - a much more interesting and promising name, familiar from the McNaghten Memorandum, even if the forger had never heard of Aaron Kosminski.
                    Two things. I don't think there is any evidence of erasure of a name and substitution of "Kosminski" and needless to say "Kosminski" is a longer name than "Cohen." Sorry but I am afraid your theory isn't credible.

                    Best regards

                    Chris
                    Christopher T. George
                    Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                    just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                    For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                    RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Hi All,

                      At the bottom of Page 138 of TLSOMOL, Swanson had simply pencilled in the details from Blackwoods magazine which Anderson had seen fit to leave out of the book version.

                      It cannot be treated as clarification or an endorsement.

                      Regards,

                      Simon
                      Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Simon Wood View Post
                        Hi All,

                        At the bottom of Page 138 of TLSOMOL, Swanson had simply pencilled in the details from Blackwoods magazine which Anderson had seen fit to leave out of the book version.

                        It cannot be treated as clarification or an endorsement.

                        Regards,

                        Simon
                        Hi Simon

                        Shall we just say that DSS was punctilious in making notes in his copy of his former boss's memoirs? Simon, let me ask, if you were making notes for yourself, would you initial them? I am not sure I would. That isn't to imply the marginalia are forged... I just think it is an odd thing to do, although admittedly the very same "DSS" can be seen in the MePO documents that passed over Swanson's desk so I have no doubt the different marginalia were written by him.

                        Best regards

                        Chris
                        Christopher T. George
                        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                        just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                        For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                        RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Hi Chris,

                          I agree. Why initial your own marginalia, and not just once but twice?

                          And in differing styles.

                          I just checked through the comments and annotations in my copy of SPE's Ultimate. Not a set of initials to be seen.

                          Which has just given me an idea . . .

                          Regards,

                          Simon
                          Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
                            Hi Simon

                            Shall we just say that DSS was punctilious in making notes in his copy of his former boss's memoirs? Simon, let me ask, if you were making notes for yourself, would you initial them? I am not sure I would. That isn't to imply the marginalia are forged... I just think it is an odd thing to do, although admittedly the very same "DSS" can be seen in the MePO documents that passed over Swanson's desk so I have no doubt the different marginalia were written by him.

                            Best regards

                            Chris
                            Habit, Chris. Force of habit. Just like appending to the bottom of a page the word the begins the following one.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Every note I complete at work I initial, every report, letter, amendment, statment, receipt, I initial.

                              The past year I have been conducting some research with Rob Clack. We devised a 'bookmark' system where we wrote on the bookmark.

                              I've got those bookmarks and note whilst Rob did not initial his, I did mine. As Paul states, I can only put that down to my 15 years in the service, its how I was taught. However, I do recall thinking at the time that I was also intialling as evidence it was my remarks, this incase others were to read it. And there was every possibility they would have been.

                              Monty




                              Author of Capturing Jack the Ripper.

                              http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1445621622

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Monty View Post
                                Every note I complete at work I initial, every report, letter, amendment, statment, receipt, I initial.

                                The past year I have been conducting some research with Rob Clack. We devised a 'bookmark' system where we wrote on the bookmark.

                                I've got those bookmarks and note whilst Rob did not initial his, I did mine. As Paul states, I can only put that down to my 15 years in the service, its how I was taught. However, I do recall thinking at the time that I was also intialling as evidence it was my remarks, this incase others were to read it. And there was every possibility they would have been.

                                Monty
                                Hey Monty

                                Thanks for your thoughts on DSS's initialing of the marginalia. It does occur to me that it was partly the bureaucratic nature of Swanson's position that led him to initial his notes just as he did with the MePO documents that came to his desk, as anyone who has studied those documents can well attest.

                                All the best

                                Chris
                                Christopher T. George
                                Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                                just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                                For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                                RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

                                Comment

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