[OASIS] Harvard University Library
OASIS: Online Archival Search Information System
http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HLS.Libr:law00102View HOLLIS Record   Frames Version
Questions or Comments   Copyright Statement
HOLLIS 004386789

Wood Detective Agency. Records, 1865-1945 : Finding Aid.

Harvard Law School Library, Cambridge, MA 02138


Harvard Law School
May-August, 1999

© 2003 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

Summary Information

Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University
Location: Harvard Law School Library, Special Collections
Call No.: HOLLIS 004386789
Creator: Wood Detective Agency.
Title: Records, 1865-1945.
Quantity: 14 boxes
Abstract: The collection comprises correspondence, clippings, case notes, photographs and notes relating to cases that the Agency investigated, as well as brief accounts of famous historical crimes and criminals and some photos and materials dating from the founder's career as a member of the Boston Police Force.

Processing Information:

Processed by Amy E. Moore, May - August, 1999.

Acquisition Information:

The Records of the Wood Detective Agency were presented to the Harvard Law School Library as a gift from the Suffolk County Archives on 11 May 1961.

Access Restrictions:

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Use Restrictions:

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Historical Note

James Rodney Wood, Sr.

James Rodney Wood, Jr.

Scope and Content

The Records of the Wood Detective Agency span the years 1865-1934. The collection includes accounts, articles, biographies, cartes-de-visite, case notes, correspondence, clippings, photographs, speeches, statements, tintypes and wanted posters. The main body of the material relates to criminals and criminal activities occurring in the United States, particularly New England.
The written collection of James Rodney Wood, Sr. provides first hand encounters with criminals including Chastine Cox, Dr. David Razer Brown and Jesse Pomeroy. The photographic material in the collection offers glimpses at both the criminal and victim. The subject of abused children is well documented in the collection, with over fourteen photographs depicting young "padrone slaves," who were Italian immigrants forced into a form of slavery that existed in Boston between 1878-1881.
The materials of James Rodney Wood, Jr. consists mainly of typewritten notes on various crimes that occurred in the United States and abroad, from 1778-1934. The collection offers a wealth of information in the form of statements, biographies and accounts on over four hundred cases, criminals and notable personalities. The biographical materials retained by James Rodney Wood, Jr., found in series five of the collection, offers an invaluable perspective into the lives and interests of both Wood Jr. and Sr. The photographs of the James Rodney Wood, Jr. offer visual documentation of over twelve murder scenes taken from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Included among the scenes are: the Hayward murder of Winthrop, Maine (1925); the Gerrish murder of Amherst, Maine (1924); and the Broadwell Murder of Barre, Vermont (1919). Additional material in the photographic collection includes ballistics readings, handwriting analysis and portraits of infamous murderers such as Jesse Pomeroy, Russell Noble and Byron Pettibone.
The original order of the collection is unknown. The present arrangement was imposed after the Harvard Law School Library acquired the collection.

Series Description


Within each series and/or subseries individual items or folders are identified by box and folder number. For example, the number 5-12 corresponds to box 5, folder 12.