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  • Swanson's Marginalia: Our Perceptions

    Chris George inspired this thread.

    Lets hear your arguments one way or the other about the reasoning ( not the provenance, since thats another kettle of fish ) behind corroborating SRA 22 years or so after the WM ended with the notations left in SRA's "The Lighter Side of My Official Life" by the Inspector in Charge of the WM investigation.....

    Lets start with the content of the note and whether or not it was worth the effort of Swanson to even comment on....if it was not meant for anyone else's eyes. I,personally,consider the Swanson Marginalia, the single most "negative" factor in the Anderson declaration and the peripheral/concomitant aspects of the whole identification saga.

    Could he have written the marginalia for future generations...and hope that the someone who eventually obtained the book would care enough to mention it to someone else? Is this any way to provide a solution to a mystery and a killer that everyone and his brother was interested in learning the name of ?

    Speak out,please...
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  • #2
    Hi How.

    Personally I think the Swanson was the source of Anderson's comments, rather than the other way around, and Swanson's notes were correcting Anderson's understanding of the the story.

    Just my two cents...
    "The Men who were not the Man who was not Jack the Ripper!"

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by How Brown View Post
      Chris George isnpired this thread.

      Lets hear your arguments one way or the other about the reasoning ( not the provenance, since thats another kettle of fish ) behind corroborating SRA 22 years or so after the WM ended with the notations left in SRA's "The Lighter Side of My Official Life" by the Inspector in Charge of the WM investigation.....

      Lets start with the content of the note and whether or not it was worth the effort of Swanson to even comment on....if it was not meant for anyone else's eyes. I,personally,consider the Swanson Marginalia, the single most "negative" factor in the Anderson declaration and the peripheral/concomitant aspects of the whole identification saga.

      Could he have written the marginalia for future generations...and hope that the someone who eventually obtained the book would care enough to mention it to someone else? Is this any way to provide a solution to a mystery and a killer that everyone and his brother was interested in learning the name of ?

      Speak out,please...
      Thanks, Howie. I am going to copy over what I have just written in the R. Harding Davis thread but which belongs more appropriately here.

      Hello Howard

      Possibly Stewart Evans or somebody else can answer the question as to how much Swanson annotated his books, whether the annotations in regard to the Ripper case are consistent with what he did throughout his book collection or if this was almost a one-off instance. Personally I abhor writing in books. I think it's sacrilege. Books are sacrosanct and should not be so desecrated. Say you don't do it, Howie.

      As you know, I am also a writer in the military area, and one of the problems that I have with a lot of the writings of various personages involved in the battles I write about is that they are merely anecdotal reminiscences. In a way, some of the pronouncements in the Ripper case are of this nature. Littlechild is in this category, for instance. . . he's airing a few memories of cases he's been involved in or knows about. . . Harry Thaw, Tumblety, Oscar Wilde. But they are just ideas thrown out, colorful but not really evidential. The various notations by police officials, Swanson, Anderson, Macnaghten similarly are problematical because they don't address the case directly in the way we would wish them to. Rather they were written for other reasons, not really to give a solution to the case, but to address certain questions or needs. So they remain intriguing but not conclusive. Interesting but also highly frustrating.

      Chris
      Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
      https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

      Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
      Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

      Comment


      • #4
        Again copied from the R. Davis Harding thread--

        Originally posted by Paul View Post
        Hi Chris,


        If all Swanson was doing was making a note to himself that Anderson's suspect was 'Kosminski' then why give all the other details?

        If Swanson did not agree with Anderson's conclusion then why didn't he say so or at least intimate that he disagreed or suggest that there were grounds for uncertainty? And why bother with all the marginal notes expanding on what Anderson had written?
        Hi Paul

        Of course we can go round and round on this but if he is making a note to himself, he does not have to say that he disagreed, if the note is only informational, to remind himself of the situation, which it could well have been. As I have been saying, I think the danger here is from our perspective to read a lot more into what Swanson or the other police officials were saying when the notes that we are reading were not really addressed at us or were meant to give a solution to the case. It is us that are looking for answers. All they were doing was talking from their particular perspective which does not especially help us. Swanson was talking to himself and nobody else so it is, I think, perilous to project the idea that he endorsed Anderson's story. Yes, okay, he embellished what Anderson said, but again is that reinforcement that Kosminski could have been the Ripper, or is it just telling the story of yet another blind alley in the case, stating the facts of this episode for his own benefit?

        All the best

        Chris
        Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
        https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
        Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
          Of course we can go round and round on this but if he is making a note to himself, he does not have to say that he disagreed, if the note is only informational, to remind himself of the situation, which it could well have been. As I have been saying, I think the danger here is from our perspective to read a lot more into what Swanson or the other police officials were saying when the notes that we are reading were not really addressed at us or were meant to give a solution to the case. It is us that are looking for answers. All they were doing was talking from their particular perspective which does not especially help us. Swanson was talking to himself and nobody else so it is, I think, perilous to project the idea that he endorsed Anderson's story. Yes, okay, he embellished what Anderson said, but again is that reinforcement that Kosminski could have been the Ripper, or is it just telling the story of yet another blind alley in the case, stating the facts of this episode for his own benefit?

          All the best

          Chris
          Hi Chris,
          What you say is perfectly true and it could be a mistake and quite a serious one to assume Swanson’s tacit agreement with Anderson, although we should first of all establish what we think Swanson is tacitly agreeing or not agreeing with. I am not talking about Swanson confirming Anderson’s conclusion that the Polish Jew was Jack the Ripper, but confirming that there was a suspect, was a witness and was an identification. And there are some fairly serious questions that this raises: Swanson was the man responsible for coordinating the Ripper investigation, so is it possible that he could have remained in total ignorance of the whole business? If for some reason he didn’t know anything about it, how readily would he have accepted someone else’s account, even Anderson’s? Would he have accepted without question all the oddities such as the identification taking place at ‘the Seaside Home’ and the City C.I.D. maintaining surveillance? He makes no comment that anything he was noting was outside the ken of his personal knowledge and experience. And is there anything in the marginalia to suggest that he was present and talking from personal experience – such as his observation that the suspect knew he’d been identified; a really banal comment to have made since the suspect could hardly have failed to know he’d been identified if he’d been confronted by the witness, yet it seems to have been so important to Swanson that he mentioned it twice. And why would Anderson or anyone else have told Swanson such a strange story in the first place.

          Nothing changes your original point that we are perhaps assuming acceptance and belief where none existed and you can go down that route to see where the journey takes you – well, it basically takes you to Anderson, whose story you must then assess without recourse to Swanson. But equally it is not unreasonable to assume that Swanson would have written ‘rubbish’ or ‘according to Anderson’ or something that reminded him that he had no personal knowledge of any part of the story and to treat Swanson as at least confirming that the identification happened.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Magpie View Post
            Hi How.

            Personally I think the Swanson was the source of Anderson's comments, rather than the other way around, and Swanson's notes were correcting Anderson's understanding of the the story.

            Just my two cents...
            Far more probable, in my opinion, though Swanson would have been expanding on, not correcting, Anderson. On the other hand, Anderson at one point expressly stated that he was “not speaking as an expert in crime, but as a man who investigated the facts”, which has a bit of ambiguity hanging over it, but seems to me to be a pretty clear statement that he was talking from personal knowledge, as one with direct knowledge.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Paul View Post
              Hi Chris,
              What you say is perfectly true and it could be a mistake and quite a serious one to assume Swanson’s tacit agreement with Anderson, although we should first of all establish what we think Swanson is tacitly agreeing or not agreeing with. I am not talking about Swanson confirming Anderson’s conclusion that the Polish Jew was Jack the Ripper, but confirming that there was a suspect, was a witness and was an identification. And there are some fairly serious questions that this raises: Swanson was the man responsible for coordinating the Ripper investigation, so is it possible that he could have remained in total ignorance of the whole business? If for some reason he didn’t know anything about it, how readily would he have accepted someone else’s account, even Anderson’s? Would he have accepted without question all the oddities such as the identification taking place at ‘the Seaside Home’ and the City C.I.D. maintaining surveillance? He makes no comment that anything he was noting was outside the ken of his personal knowledge and experience. And is there anything in the marginalia to suggest that he was present and talking from personal experience – such as his observation that the suspect knew he’d been identified; a really banal comment to have made since the suspect could hardly have failed to know he’d been identified if he’d been confronted by the witness, yet it seems to have been so important to Swanson that he mentioned it twice. And why would Anderson or anyone else have told Swanson such a strange story in the first place.

              Nothing changes your original point that we are perhaps assuming acceptance and belief where none existed and you can go down that route to see where the journey takes you – well, it basically takes you to Anderson, whose story you must then assess without recourse to Swanson. But equally it is not unreasonable to assume that Swanson would have written ‘rubbish’ or ‘according to Anderson’ or something that reminded him that he had no personal knowledge of any part of the story and to treat Swanson as at least confirming that the identification happened.
              Hi Paul

              Thanks for agreeing to my point that we can't conclude that Swanson agreed that Swanson was saying he endorsed Anderson's apparent contention that the poor Polish Jew Aaron Kosminski committed the murders. In regard to your point that Swanson could have written "rubbish" or "according to Anderson" or something along those lines, well yes of course he could have, although he could have thought that but not written it down.

              Chris
              Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
              https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

              Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
              Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
                Hi Paul

                Thanks for agreeing to my point that we can't conclude that Swanson agreed that Swanson was saying he endorsed Anderson's apparent contention that the poor Polish Jew Aaron Kosminski committed the murders. In regard to your point that Swanson could have written "rubbish" or "according to Anderson" or something along those lines, well yes of course he could have, although he could have thought that but not written it down.

                Chris
                As you say, we can go round and round on this as there is and probably can never be any definitive answer, but we should guard against the sort of excessive scepticism that answers almost every piece of 'evidence' by doubting its reliabiity or authenticity or pretty much anything else. The end result will be no history.

                The point about the marginalia is that prima facie it confirms that there was a suspect, a witness and an identification. Or, let's put it this way, it confirms that there was a fairly detailed and somewhat bizarre story which entailed a suspect being sent with difficulty for identification at 'the Seaside Home', a witness refusing to give evidence, a positively identified suspect being released, the City C.I.D. maintaining surveillance, and the suspect being taken 'with his hands tied behind his back' to the workhouse. Swanson got all this stuff from somewhere. And whilst it is possible that he recited it all in the marginalia without actually believing a word of it, is it reasonable to assume that he did so?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Dear Magpie:

                  Thanks very much for reminding me of the possibility that indeed Swanson was the source for Anderson. It was late at night and I was in a rush...and forgot to add what you mentioned. Thanks buddy !

                  Personally I think the Swanson was the source of Anderson's comments, rather than the other way around, and Swanson's notes were correcting Anderson's understanding of the the story.-Magpie



                  Now to me, and apparently Magpie, it may well have been as Magpie suggests...a case of the identification being conducted by the man in charge at that time ( Swanson )....Anderson is told of it and is the first to discuss it...and then Swanson notates his book.

                  I hope the following makes some semblance of sense....but I cannot understand why...as I am sure at times Mr. B and C.G. and just about everyone else can't...why every police official post-Seaside is in the dark as to the act of the identification conducted by Swanson and Anderson or...Swanson sans Anderson and/or Anderson sans Swanson. Moore, Littlechild, Abberline, etc...on down the line. Would these men have kept quiet...say as when Davis interviewed Moore in 1899? Or when Abberline was queried...and even Littlechild 20 years later ?

                  ....and by the way, even though most of this material has been done to death or marginally touched on...I think its important to continue to hammer away at the Identification affair, since someone could concievably come up with a new angle to an aspect within the whole of the affair...

                  Let me ask one more question for Mr. B or C.G....or anyone:

                  If the identification did produce a probable solution to the WM...regardless of whether Swanson or Anderson was the attending,ranking official...is it etched in stone that either one really were present ?

                  Could someone else have conducted this identification ? A third party?

                  And furthermore...for Mr. B....if the identification produced a probable solution as to the question at hand...then why did the investigation of the WM not close until 1892? That cannot be the year the identification took place.
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                  • #10
                    Didn't I find a volume a couple of years ago, that had been annoted and marginalised in a similar fashion by Swanson?
                    I can't quite remember... or was it Littlechild? Damn this old age.
                    I know it got lost on the Casebook crash.
                    One thing I do remember though, is that the marginaliser also drew long black strokes through sections of the book that interested him, before he made his remarks.
                    Is there any evidence of this in the volume we discuss?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by How Brown View Post

                      Let me ask one more question for Mr. B or C.G....or anyone:

                      If the identification did produce a probable solution to the WM...regardless of whether Swanson or Anderson was the attending,ranking official...is it etched in stone that either one really were present ?

                      Could someone else have conducted this identification ? A third party?

                      And furthermore...for Mr. B....if the identification produced a probable solution as to the question at hand...then why did the investigation of the WM not close until 1892? That cannot be the year the identification took place.
                      Hi Howard

                      To me the Anderson account and Swanson marginalia read as if this episode was reported to the higher ups in Scotland Yard, i.e., Swanson, Anderson, et al., by the investigating officer (Inspector whomever) rather than either of these two gentlemen were there. I partly say this because the report that the suspect was taken with difficulty with hands tied behind his back just sounds a bit remote as if the circumstances were reported. . . if one of the officials, Swanson or Anderson had been there, possibly the detail might have been greater, remembered expressions of the witness and suspect, and so on.

                      I have no opinion on the timing of this attempted identification except to note that as late as October 1896 Chief Inspector Henry Moore was comparing a new "Ripper" letter to the original September 25, 1888 "Dear Boss" letter (Ultimate Sourcebook, pp. 654-655), . . . although of course it is quite possible that some police officers, e.g, Anderson and Swanson, could have thought it was "case closed" while others did not think that.

                      All the best

                      Chris
                      Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                      https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                      Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                      Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dear C.G.

                        Thanks for bringing up the letter from 1896, which is of course,also in Letters From Hell by Stewart Evans & Keith Skinner... for anyone else who may be interested in the missive C.G. mentioned.

                        This is exactly the point,C.G...that high ranking officials, not beat cops, were still investigating whether a letter 6 years ( ballpark figure) after this identification matched what they thought might be a letter from Jack The Ripper. I still can't...after 6 years of being in Ripperology... understand how any of these officials didn't hear of SRA & Swanson conducting this inquiry.

                        Yes,Macnaghten mentions Kosminski. Yet, we know what his opinion was on who did what and how they wound up.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Chris G. View Post
                          I partly say this because the report that the suspect was taken with difficulty with hands tied behind his back just sounds a bit remote as if the circumstances were reported. . . if one of the officials, Swanson or Anderson had been there, possibly the detail might have been greater, remembered expressions of the witness and suspect, and so on.
                          I interpret this quite differently. In many respects it is an unimportant detail and superfluous to the purpose of the marginal notation, which was that shortly after the suspect was released he was committed by his family to Colney Hatch. It reads less like a detail Swanson would have extracted from a third-party report and more like the sort of detail one would add if one had witnessed the incident.

                          My reasoning is along the same lines as yours, except I wouldn't expect to find the degree of expansion you do; indeed, the kind of detail you mention in marginalia would make me suspicious. The marginalia is already sufficiently detailed - the suspect being sent for identification with difficulty, the identification being at 'the Seaside Home', suspect being returned to his brother's house' and so on.

                          But one of the problems we have with the whole identification story is whether it happened or not, it having been argued that Anderson was confused or lying. I don't think either possibility has any merit, but the supposition that neither Anderson nor Swanson were present at the identification and were merely repeating what someone else wrote in a report shows that at least the events described actually took place. Unless, of course, one wants to argue that it was a figment of someone else's imagination which both Anderson and Swanson were gulled into believing.

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                          • #14
                            Excuse me if this has been put forward before, but have the following ever been considered:

                            1) That the "difficulty" in arranging the ID parade was talking the witness into attending in the first place? Perhaps the witness felt that he wouldn't be able to recognize or identify the person he saw, and therefore didn't see the point of the exercise?

                            2) That the witness honestly didn't recognize Kosminski, but Anderson and/or Swanson didn't believe him and instead assumed that the witness was protecting Kosminski, most likely because of their shared ethnic background?

                            3) That maybe someone had already decided that Kosminski was the Ripper and was looking for anything that would rubber-stamp their opinion, and when the witness didn't pan out they simply refused to concede that they could have been wrong and instead chose to blame the witness?

                            My apologies if this has already been discussed.
                            "The Men who were not the Man who was not Jack the Ripper!"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by How Brown View Post
                              This is exactly the point,C.G...that high ranking officials, not beat cops, were still investigating whether a letter 6 years ( ballpark figure) after this identification matched what they thought might be a letter from Jack The Ripper. I still can't...after 6 years of being in Ripperology... understand how any of these officials didn't hear of SRA & Swanson conducting this inquiry.
                              Um, Moore is the most senior officer involved and I think the paragraph about the Goulston Street graffito could do with a closer analysis for what it may reveal about Moore's state of knowledge and thinking. He thinks the graffito was written by the murderer and wonders how the letter writer was able to recall the words so long after the event, which suggests that he was very cautiously observing a connection between the murderer and the letter writer.This may mean that Moore had not heard of Anderson's suspect, but, perhaps even more curiously, hadn't heard of Swanson's belief that the murderer was dead - reported in the Pall Mall Gazette the previous year. On the other hand, Moore might only have been suggesting that a journalist with easy access to press files would have been more likely to recall the wording of the message than would an ordinary member of the public.

                              Anyway, the correspondence concerned the comparison of a letter to the earlier correspondence and the subject of the Ripper still being at large never came up, except obliquely in the reports by Inspector Payne and Acting Superintendent Cross, who both stated that they had instructed police to keep a sharp lookout (presumably for the murderer, not a letter writer). The comparison undertaken by Moore was requested by Macnaghten was it not? Doesn't this equally cast some doubt on his alredy-stated belief that Druitt was the murderer and had drowned himself in the Thames? Or does it all have no real bearing on the Ripper's identity, only that the journalist believed to have written the letters had not been identified by 1896?

                              Swanson, you will observe, twice expressed regret that any information had been circulated and requested Bradford to instruct that all such letters be sent to C.O. for instructions as to action, if any, to be taken.

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