Showing posts with label forensic science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label forensic science. Show all posts

Monday, September 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 6

Dear Doctor:

I have been called upon to give testimony in a criminal case - in which there is a bullet wound of the head with extensive fracture of the skull – and no external marks of violence.

Would I be asking or troubling you too much in requesting you to send me such photographs as will have a bearing upon the case, such as will illustrate the average amount of fracture of the skull from bullets, + especially pistol shots.

Also such as will illustrate well authenticated cases of fracture from “Contre Coup.”

With great respect
I have the honor to be-
Very Sincerely,
Your Obdt Servant
A. Van Deveer


Respectfully submitted to the Surgeon General, U.S.A. for instructions. A certain number of the illustrations contained in the Army Medical Museum on the subjects referred to have been photographed and prints have been furnished to two medical men of Albany, engaged in a medico-legal inquiry – possibly the same to which Dr. Van Derveer refers.

George A. Otis
Ass’t Surg. USA

Sept. 13. 69.


Let him have them if in hand --

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 6 - CSI Medical Museum part 4

He did it!

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1463

May 6, 1896

Major W.G. Moore,
Superintendent Metropolitan Police,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

I beg to return herewith, per Messenger, the package which you left this morning for examination, and to report that in addition to the larger stain on the front of the garment I have been able to find two other stains, both of which gave, under the microscope, blood corpuscles resembling in many respects human blood corpuscles.

Very respectfully,

Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 5 - CSI Medical Museum, part 3

This isn't the end of the story! Check back tomorrow!
Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1457

Headquarters of the Metropolitan Police,
District of Columbia,
Washington, May 5th 1896

Dr. Walter Reed,
Surgeon, U.S.A.,
Curator U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:-

I beg to make my grateful acknowledgements for your prompt compliance with my request of May 3rd, and to assure you that you will find me willing and ready to serve you whenever it may be in my power to do so.

Very respectfully & obediently yours,
W.G. Moore
Major & Sup’t. Met. Police

Monday, May 3, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 3 - CSI Medical Museum

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1457

Headquarters of the Metropolitan Police,
District of Columbia,
Washington, May 3rd. 1896

Dr. Walter Reed,
Surgeon, U.S.A.
Army Medical Museum

Dear Sir:-

This department has under arrest a colored man named Noah Warner on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of John W. Hall April 7th last. On one of the shoes take off Warner are stains which are thought to be blood. Learning that you are an eminent expert in analyzing blood, I would ask, if I am not trespassing on your time and generosity, that you will kindly make an analysis of the stains on this shoe and advise me of the result. As early a reply as is compatible with your other duties will be greatly appreciated by

Yours very respectfully,
W.G. Moore
Major & Sup’t. Met. Police

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 8

Memo for The Record

Albert E Minns Jr
Curator, Medical Museum

Herman E Demick
CQ 8 April 1961

8 April 1961

During CQ duty on this date numerous inquiries were made by visitors requesting the wherebouts of the Forensic Pathology exhibits.

Some inquiries were the direct result of the Army Times article and some were due to the Evening Star Letter To The Editor which is attached [missing now – MR]. However, the majority were from people who heard about the exhibits being interesting or those who had seen them previously and were bringing others in to see them. Upon arrival these visitors naturally inquired for them when the exhibits were not found in their areas.

One mother with her teenage son – present at the request of her son – stated that TV Westerns represent the use of guns and knives as not dangerous. Her son had been impressed with our exhibits which served as an object lesson to him. Rather than being shocked he was seriously interested and asked his mother to visit the Museum with him.

M/Sgt Clayton A Knepley, of WRAMC [this is when the Museum was still downtown near the Smithsonian] visited the museum with his teenage son expressly to see the exhibits in question. The Sgt was familiar with the Exhibits and in hi opinion they are very valuable to the young. He read the Times article and was in fact the source of my knowledge of any letter in the Star. His reaction to the affair is that in his opinion it is unfair and unwarranted. He believes both articles have been written by the same person – pointing out the similarity in the writing style.

Guard James Jackson and I had near one-hundred inquiries for the exhibits throughout the day. It may be noted that visitor attendance was comparatively light due to the parade activities. The total requests for the exhibits versus attendance represent a good percentage of people wanting the exhibits.

Mr. Robert F. Jones, [street address redacted] Philadelphia, Pa. tour-director brings groups of students and adults to D.C. at least once a week. During the past few weeks he has brought in young girl students in groups of 65. During these weeks he reports, not one of the girls have shown anything but serious interest in the Forensic Pathology exhibits. Not one case of “shock or horror”. His viewpoint is that his groups learned the seriousness of “the unloaded gun and the switch-blade”. Mr. Jones says he intends to write a letter to the paper giving his opinion. He said it is a shame the exhibits have been removed.

Herman E Demick

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wellcome Library Year in Review now available (PR)

The Wellcome is one of the great history of medicine collections -

The Wellcome Library Year In Review and vital stats are now online:

The Review covers our activities during 2008, specifically highlighting our digitisation programme. We also showcase some of our exciting  acquisitions from the year, including the casebooks of the 'father of modern forensics' Sir Bernard Spilsbury and the notebooks of double Nobel Prize winning geneticist Fred Sanger.

A limited number of print copies of the Year in Review will be available. If you would like to request a copy please contact

They link to a neat article about Spilsbury.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another forensics exhibit

Well, this one is a few years off, but today I received the Fall 2008 issue of Memorial News, the newsletter from the National Law Enforcement Memorial. When the National Law Enforcement Museum opens in 2011, it will feature an interactive forensics exhibit, thanks to a generous donation by Target. "The Target Forensics Lab will feature six stations - fingerprinting, trace analysis, blood spatter analysis, DNA, toxicology, and firearms toolmarks and impressions - plus materials on forensic accounting, entomology, and a realistic medical examiner's office. Museum visitors will be able to 'take the case,' choosing one of four real crimes featured in the Museum, collecting evidence and analyzing it in the lab before identifying a suspect."

The museum will be in the 400 block of E Street NW, very near the Memorial at Judiciary Square.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Establishing identity

Here's another shot from our Resolved exhibit. It shows the lines of evidence that must be explored in order to establish identity.
Forensic identification is the application of science to establish personal identity.
Postmortem data are an individual's physical characteristics recorded by scientists from a person's remains after death.
Antemortem data are the physical characteristics that a person is born with and acquires throughout life.
Identification results when a person's postmortem data matches an individual's antemortem data to the exclusion of everyone else.
Lines of evidence are those scientific disciplines that contribute to an identification, such as material evidence, fingerprinting, dentistry, anthropology, DNA, and pathology.
A case is resolved when an American returns alive, the remains are recovered, repatriated, and certified, or there is convincing evidence that neither of the two options is possible.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This image is what greets the visitor at the entrance to our new "Resolved" exhibit on identification of war dead. I think it's universal in language, eloquence without words.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Former museum staffer on weight vs height vs driver's license

Anthropologist Tony Falsetti was on the Museum's staff a decade or so ago. He popped up in the news recently - once for a project to match people's self-images with their body reality - "License, Registration And Weight, Please: For Many Drivers, Telling the Whole Truth Is Too Heavy a Burden," By Brigid Schulte, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, July 21, 2008; C01.

He also was wandering around Russia looking into the Czar's assassination.

Monday, July 21, 2008

New exhibit in Museum sheds light on identifying missing soldiers, sailors and airmen

The Museum's opened a new exhibit on forensic identification of war dead that goes from the 19th through the 21st centuries. One can see how it is relevant in the newspaper on a weekly basis. Here's a recent article -"Remains of MIA Pilots Identified: Vietnam War Casualties, One From Vienna, to Be Buried," By Ian Shapira, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, July 19, 2008; Page A3.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Forensic identification of dead in China disaster

We're opening an exhibit later this year - Resolved - on forensic identification of military dead. This article has some interesting parallels to the difficulty of identifying people after time has elapsed.

China’s Rush to Dispose of Dead Compounds Agony
Published: May 24, 2008
Family members have not been able to identify relatives and traditional reverence for the deceased has been upset.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New forensic paper based on Civil War specimens

Healing following Cranial Trauma by Lenore Barbian and Paul Sledzik (one of our bloggers) has appeared in the Journal of Forensic Sciences March 2008 issue. The two former curators of the Museum's anatomical section examined 127 Civil War soldier's skulls for evidence of healing after their wounding. The issue is only available online to subscribers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Identifying war dead

The anatomical collections staff of the Museum is working on an exhibit about identifying American military war dead. The New York Times ran an interesting piece about the dead of other nationalities who were buried in Thailand in mass graves when they died during World War II building the 'Death Railway' and 'the bridge over the River Kwai.'

“It is almost forgotten history,” said Sasidaran Sellappah, a retired plantation manager in Malaysia whose father was among 120 Tamil workers from a rubber estate forced to work on the railway. Only 47 survived.