Tag: forensics

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  • Murder and the making of English CSI


    Several years ago my colleague Neil Pemberton asked me when police started using tape to mark out and protect crime scenes. Though I had written extensively on the history of forensics I had no ready answer. As we talked it… Continue reading

  • A hot-wax fingerprint Christmas card


    How many Christmas cards will you send this year, if at all? The vogue for hand-crafted cards is gradually disappearing as we become ever more digital in sending out festive wishes each year. There is a particularly interesting example of… Continue reading

  • Test of an expert witness


    When in 1836 James Marsh announced his test for the presence of arsenic, the news was greeted with huge relief. Unknown numbers of deaths, it was feared, were being attributed to diseases such as dysentery or food poisoning when the… Continue reading

  • Dastardly Doctor Crippen


    The doctor sat at his desk and signed the letter. Not long back after a romantic holiday in France, he was feeling content. Barely three miles away, the dismembered remains of his wife lay decomposing under their floor… Hawley Harvey… Continue reading

  • William Palmer: Prince of Poisoners


    William Palmer was a surgeon “of superior degree of instruction”, whose profligate lifestyle led to his ungracious demise in the mid-19th century. Palmer was charged in 1856 with the “wilful poisoning”, with strychnine, of his ‘friend’ and horse-racing partner, John Parsons Cook (to whom he… Continue reading

  • Mug-shots

    Forensics: the anatomy of crime


    Fancy solving a crime? Enter the macabre world of forensic pathology from today with the opening of Forensics: the anatomy of crime in Wellcome Collection’s newly refurbished Gallery 1. Arguably one of the most intriguing items from the Wellcome Library on display in this fascinating exhibition are the… Continue reading

  • The Ruffian on the Stair: CSI Victorian London


    “In the midst of life, we are in death” – in the midst of the Library, right now, even more so.  Downstairs the Wellcome Collection’s exhibition “Death: a Self-Portrait” runs until 24th February, showing 300 objects from the Richard Harris… Continue reading

  • Case notes, coal gas and cocaine


    Coal gas, carbolic acid and lysol were the familiar poisons of the day, the household substances that extinguished unhappy lives in the haunted years after the First World War. A less familiar but increasingly notorious poison appears a couple of… Continue reading

  • New issue of ‘Medical History’


    The latest issue of journal Medical History – available free through PubMedCentral and UK PubMedCentral – carries two articles which offer interesting perspectives upon major collections held in the Wellcome Library. Ian Burney and Neil Pemberton’s article ‘Bruised Witness: Bernard… Continue reading

  • Murder, he telegraphed


    July 31st 1910: one hundred years ago today, a small, balding, bespectacled man stands in handcuffs on a docked ocean liner, arrested on his arrival in Canada. The man is Hawley Harvey Crippen, and he is under arrest for the… Continue reading