Unusual Records from Ogden City Police Department

Susan Mumford History, Records Management

The first Monday of each month, the staff and volunteers for the Utah State Archives and Utah State History get together for what we call a “Lunch & Learn.”  On Monday, December 6, 2010, Alan Barnett gave an intriguing presentation concerning photographic glass negatives from the Ogden City Police Department dating from 1911. Alan shared images captured on the negatives that he discovered in the course of his work. “The Tall & Short Man” is a tale of extortion, deceit, robbery, and crime. The story involves crimes against the highest echelon of Ogden society by a shadowy figure under multiple names that eluded the police for eight years. The letters “copied” on the negatives—well before the ubiquitous copy machine–threatened to harm family members if payment to him was not made in solid gold coins. Others offer to buy back stolen family jewels if the victim of the theft would send money with a representative to a certain road near the bridge at midnight and not tell the police. This fragmented investigative report is all we have and leaves many unanswered questions. Where do the records fit into the Archives collection? Should they be kept permanently along with other historical records? Alan asked those in attendance to speculate on the questions raised by the records in a collaborative discussion. The record series will next be archivally processed including a finding aid online.

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