— ed_podesta (@ed_podesta) May 7, 2016
The other day I was asked on Twitter about the books that I read whilst writing the Whitechapel 1870-1900 section of this book.
I’ve got five minutes, so I thought I’d quickly write about one or two of them. Of these, Crime in England by Godfrey and the London’s Shadows by Drew D Grey were most useful from a writing point of view. Grey’s, in particular, is a detailed and interesting introduction into the social context and a real pleasure to read. Along with City of Dreadful delight it made me think carefully about how I was going to write the book, especially when I was writing about the lives of women generally and those of the Ripper’s victims in particular.
‘Victorian Convicts’ by Godfrey, Johnston and Fox will be very useful as the course goes on and as you start to teach it. I heartily recommend it (if you’re going to buy a copy of this or all the other books buy it from Mr B’s Emporium, a proper bookshop that’ll deliver just as quickly as Amazon and which pays its taxes and everything else that we like proper bookshops to do).
Online / Electronic Resources
I also used a few books which I read online. Neil R Bell’s ‘Capturing Jack the Ripper’ was really helpful, not only about the particular circumstances of the Ripper case, but also about police procedure, recruitment and life ‘on the beat’.
Some of the geographic bits of ‘the Historic Environment’ were very interestingly addressed by http://www.jacktherippermap.info/map.php.
The Whitechapel Society (http://www.whitechapelsociety.com/) not only contains great articles but also hosts a really great podcast (which Neil R Bell is a regular contributor to).
Of course I spent a great deal of time at http://www.casebook.org/ a very detailed and comprehensive site, with some very wise contributors.
Because the records of police courts have not usually survived in detail, the best record of the crimes that appeared at the Thames Police Court at this time is the reports in newspapers. I used the https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ a great deal – as well as the amazingly free www.oldbaileyonline.org , which gave me the moving story of Sarah Fishers’ baby that starts my section of the book.
Lovely Friendly and helpful people.
Whilst trying to find out more about this incident, I found that I really needed to see the Attestation Ledgers and Divisional Registers for H Division (Whitechapel’s division). They’re in London at the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre and they have not (yet) been digitised. So, I rang them. I expected that they’d say ‘you’ll have to come down’, but they didn’t. They looked it up for me, and helped me to understand the information on the ledgers. They sent me a pic of the Divisional Ledger, and even put me in touch with the Friends of the Met Police Historical Collection (https://www.metpolicehistory.co.uk/) who used their forums to help me work out where this event had taken place. You’ll have to buy a copy of the book to find out what I discovered though :). I couldn’t have written my part of the book without their kindness and their efforts, and I’m really grateful.