Columbus Research Trip: Part II


Columbus Research Trip: Part II

On Monday, June 9th, Alison Langmead, Alexandra Oliver, Isabelle Chartier, and I embarked on a roadtrip to Columbus, Ohio. Towing various digital cameras, tripods, copy stands, laptops, and coffee mugs, we headed for the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society), the home to approximately 40,000 Bertllion cards and 100 Bertillon examination books. These photographs and books originated at the Ohio Penitentiary (1884-1984) and the Ohio State Reformatory (1896-1990), and span decades.

The purpose of our two-day trip was to photograph as many Bertillon identification cards and corresponding ledger recordings as possible, while retaining a sufficiently sharp image to permit human readability (for transcription purposes). We spent the first portion of our visit arranging the furniture and table lamps in the archive's reading room to provide sufficient light for our camera stations (two of us at each station, working in tandem). We focused on records created betweeen 1887-1919, carefully removing folders from boxes and photographing the contents of each folder (see image). Approximately sixteen working hours, a few coffees, and a night in Columbus later, we had collectively photographed more than 2,700 cards and countless book pages. 

What's next? Our digital images will be used to conduct further research on the anthropometric system espoused by the Ohio Penitentiary and the Ohio State Reformatory (and numerous other correctional facilities in the United States at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.) To learn more about the premise of our research project please refer to the DHRX website's project directory

More updates will undoubtedly follow, but for now we are processing the bounty of information gleaned over the past two days, and attempting to fulfill our current data storage needs...

  • Decomposing Bodies