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Old July 9th, 2013, 06:07 AM   #1
Howard Brown
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Default Tip Of The Hat To The Straighten-Outers

Like me, over the past couple of days you've probably seen a few instances of Case data ( photos, statements in the press, or written documents ) which really challenge researchers to straighten out or clean up.
I tip my hat to those comrades who go through all this trouble.

I think that Ripperology has more unresolved bits of data in need out these straighten-outers than any field I can think of.

Whether its a census report....victim photo....the press attributing more than quote to an official or medical man....the list goes on....nothing appears to be easy in Ripperology.

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Old July 9th, 2013, 07:18 AM   #2
Lynn Cates
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Hello Howard. Right you are.

I don't think we can rest until every t is crossed and every i dotted.

Kudos to all who do this.

Cheers.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 08:51 AM   #3
Robert Linford
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Yes there are assumptions built into our views which sometimes cannot be verified. I think Kate's fire engine impression is one of those. Also I seem to remember Stewart posting something about the High Rip gang, and did it even exist? (I may have got this wrong - it was a long time ago).

Also sometimes new info is found which is at odds with previous records.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 09:51 AM   #4
Chris G.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Brown View Post
Like me, over the past couple of days you've probably seen a few instances of Case data ( photos, statements in the press, or written documents ) which really challenge researchers to straighten out or clean up.
I tip my hat to those comrades who go through all this trouble.

I think that Ripperology has more unresolved bits of data in need out these straighten-outers than any field I can think of.

Whether its a census report....victim photo....the press attributing more than quote to an official or medical man....the list goes on....nothing appears to be easy in Ripperology.

Hi Howard

The longer I am in the field the more I become impressed about how richly complex it is, in terms of the sheer amount of information on the murders, the victims, the witnesses, and the suspects. Each new gem that is discovered by the intrepid researchers working in the field might not get us any closer to knowing who Jack was, but it helps to add to our treasure trove of knowledge on this enduring mystery.

Best regards

Chris
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Old July 9th, 2013, 03:25 PM   #5
Stephen Thomas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Linford View Post
I seem to remember Stewart posting something about the High Rip gang, and did it even exist? (I may have got this wrong - it was a long time ago).
I think that Stewart was talking about the Old Nichol Gang which seems to have been an organisation invented by Donald McCormick for his book.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 03:37 PM   #6
Robert Linford
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Thanks Stephen. I thought it was some kind of gang.
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Old July 9th, 2013, 05:03 PM   #7
Chris G.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Thomas View Post
I think that Stewart was talking about the Old Nichol Gang which seems to have been an organisation invented by Donald McCormick for his book.
A recovered Casebook thread contains a number of posts by Stewart from 2006 in which he states flatly that the Old Nichol Gang was invented by McCormick for his 1959 book and that there is no mention of the gang before that. See http://forum.casebook.org/showthread.php?p=639.

However, the Old Nichol Gang has been mentioned as if it was real in books by Paul Begg and Martin Fido, and also by authors such as Professor William J. Fishman and Chaim Bermant, as discussed in that thread by various posters.

All the best

Chris
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Old July 10th, 2013, 04:51 AM   #8
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I researched and wrote my first book in 1993-4 at which time I was far from as knowledgeable on the case as I am now.

I was aware that many canards and errors had been perpetuated over the years in various popular Ripper books and I hoped to avoid doing the same. A very difficult task for anyone not very well versed in the subject. In deciding this I resolved to avoid, as much as I could, secondary sources and stick with the official reports supplemented by selected contemporary newspaper articles. To that end I purchased hard copies of all the official records from the PRO, as well as going to a local archive and obtaining extensive newspaper reports.

Despite the fact that my book was suspect based (Tumblety) I still endeavoured to keep to the facts although, because of the nature of the book, I still needed to indulge in the speculation and theorizing which is so necessary in such a book. I didn't like relying on too much speculation and personal opinion but the publisher had paid us what was then a record advance for a Ripper book on the basis of the 'new' suspect.

However, the end result was that we included many new stories (it was the first time that the 'Batty Street lodger' story had appeared in a Ripper book) and new material from the official records. One of the effects of this methodology was that some erroneous aspects of Ripper history were 'filtered out'. One of these, quite unwittingly, was 'the Old Nichol Gang', which as an entity never existed and therefore appeared in none of the source material I was using. Thorough research revealed that the gang was introduced to 'Ripperology' by Donald McCormick in his 1959 book (I was already aware that McCormick indulged in inventing his own version of historical events). Unfortunately many respected authors had already included this mythical gang in their books.

No book is totally error free, and mine are no exception. Ergo a few crept through the filtering process before publication. Notably one accepted 'fact', which was actually wrong, crept in as a result of using a secondary source. At a late stage of writing it was decided to include further detail on a murder and I needed to ascertain the facts. By this time my hard copies of the official files had migrated to our loft as we were, at that time, pressed for storage space. Rather than making a perilous climb into the loft to rummage through all sorts of detritus I decided that for such a short piece it wouldn't hurt to consult a handy Ripper book from my shelf. This was a mistake.

At that time my old fried Phil Sugden had given us much valuable (and much needed) advice. After publication I sent a copy of the book to Phil and he immediately spotted my error(s). 'You've made a mistake on that', he said, 'and I know which book you got the mistake from.' Time for me to blush and mitigate my error with weak excuses.
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Old July 10th, 2013, 11:01 AM   #9
Chris G.
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Hi Stewart

I can attest to that perilous climb, having made it and then finding some hanging ropes at the top of the climb.

Thanks for that very informative post, Stewart.

All the best

Chris
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Old July 10th, 2013, 01:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris G. View Post
The longer I am in the field the more I become impressed about how richly complex it is, in terms of the sheer amount of information on the murders, the victims, the witnesses, and the suspects. Each new gem that is discovered by the intrepid researchers working in the field might not get us any closer to knowing who Jack was, but it helps to add to our treasure trove of knowledge on this enduring mystery.
Couldn't agree more...And even though that treasure trove will probably never be filled, every nugget, great and small enhances the richness just enough to make one wade back out into the stream and pan for a little more.

Great thoughts, Chris.
And a fine example of a lesson learned from experience, Stewart.

If only everyone could develop such humble wisdom.
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