Eight out of ten people are interested in murder, and of the two, one is a pretender.
--Edmund L. Pearson
Has a conoisseur of true crime literature ever amassed as impressive a collection of books and pamphlets as attorney Albert Borowitz? His true crime collection is now housed at Kent State University in Ohio (which has impressive true crime libraries from other collectors and authors as well). Borowitz is the author of, among numerous other things, Blood & Ink: An International Guide to Fact-Based Crime Literature (here's a link to the text online). While he wrote several books about true crime through the ages, the lawyer with a keen eye for bloody history amassed a whopping ten thousand volumes of murder and other human failings.
More information about this vast library is online. After you check out the home page of the Borowitz collection, there's a title index.
In seconds, I found a rare book that's been eluding me for years. It's Stratagems and conspiracies: an authentic record of surprising attempts to defraud life insurance companies, published in New York in 1878 with an edition of 1,500. Legendary crime writer and famous librarian Edmund Pearson gave it a long and glowing review, calling it one of the most amusing books he'd ever read, and that's recommendation enough for me. Now how to get my hands on it!
Here are some other highlights of the Borowitz collection, aside from hundreds of magazines, photographs, and postcards:
- More than 130 early and very rare crime broadsides from 19th-century England (enough to rival the special collection of 300 English broadsides housed at the Harvard Law School library.)
- A collection of Jack the Ripper books and ephemera
- The Wild West Collection
- 1,000 titles of mystery & detective fiction
- Sherlock Holmes Collection
What a real treasure trove to the wide swath of people interested in true crime. If you've ever been on the hunt for something rare, it's probably at Kent State.
I almost wish I lived in Ohio.