Archive for April, 2017


April 29, 2017: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9 FM.  Music by Those Who Walk Away, IOSS, Hexzuul, Military Position, CARES, Brume, Bodies That Matter, Brume + more.  Check out the whole setlist below, tune in at 101.9 on your FM dial, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or download the finished show at cfrc.ca or on mixcloud (http://www.mixcloud.com/cameronwillis1232/the-anatomy-lesson-april-29-2017/) after the show.

JFK & the Grey Wolves – “Assassin: Part 1” Assassin (2016)
Stefan Jaworzyn – “Torn Apart” Eaten Away By Shadows, ‘82-’83 (2013)
Hexzuul – “I Saw My Own Skull” Bismuth Graves (2017)
Electric Sewer Age – “Black Corpuscle” Bad White Corpuscle (2014)
Cares – “Vendor Day” Coping Strategies (2017)
Bug vs. Earth – “Broke” Concrete Desert (2017)
Bodies That Matter – “Nobody Waved Goodbye” Glorify! Glorify! Glorify! (2015)

Brume – “CassurE thErmique / thE Easy worlds” nO~thinG (1991)
Military Position – “The Personal Is Political” Anti-Human (2013)
IOSS – “Interdependent Truths” Yes Yes Oh Yes (1987)
Those Who Walk Away – “After The End” The Infected Mass (2017)

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“Use of Strap Advised To Reduced ‘Repeaters’,” Globe and Mail. April 29, 1939. Page 17.

“The number of ‘repeaters’ in Ontario penal institutions would be materially reduced if magistrates shortened the jail term imposed on young first offenders, added a strapping to the sentence and ordered them segregated from hardened criminals, it was suggested yesterday by the grand jury of the Supreme Court of Ontario in a presentment to Mr. Justice Godfrey.

The grand jurors visited the Toronto Jail, the Jail Farm, York County House at Aurora, the Ontario Brick and Tile Plant and the Ontario Hospital in Mimico, Mercer Reformatory, and the City Hall during the week.

‘We found in the three penal institutions,’ they reported, ‘ a very large percentage of young men, ‘many of whom are repeaters and are on the downhill road all too fast. We learned from the prisoners that the strap is one punishment that they do not like, and from officials that the strap is the best method to straighten out an incorrigible.

‘We make bold to suggest and recommend to the proper authorities that magistrates shorten the jail term of young first offender, and add a strapping, the strappings to be administered under proper supervision. The jury believes that this method of punishment would materially reduce the number of repeaters,’ declared Foreman W. G. Marshall of Islington, reading the presentment.

New Court House Advocated
The jury was ‘adversely impressed with the poor recommendation for the administration of justice,’ in the City Hall, Courts, it complained, were on three floors and spread all over the building. A strong recommendation was made that a new court house be built immediately.

The twelve jurors found the jail spotlessly clean, with fire equipment properly located. Food was ‘wholesome and of good quality.’ The institution, however, was old, they said, and certain sections presented a definite fire hazard.

‘A large number of cells are extremely small, and all cells lack modern sanitary coneveniences. The institution is very much overcrowded, preventing proper segregation of prisoners. We would strongly recommend that consideration be given to the erection of a new jail,’ the jurors asserted also advocating that night guards be increased.

Ontario Hospital at Mimico, they said, had been made safer from a fire standpoint. New buildings had been added to the original cottages, and the latter had been renovated, generally overhauled and equipped with modern fireproof stairs. In the York County House, Aurora, they found a ‘kindly, homelike atmosphere about the whole institution.’ They left the Jail Farm at Langstaff with ‘the conviction that the institution is an excellent condition and under a most competent administration.’ The Mimico tile plant was also well managed, they reported, and inmates in Mercer Reformatory were properly segregated.”

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“Les Lapons se modernisent,” Photo-Journal. April 28, 1938. Page 08.

Swedish authorities have furnished Lapp families with gas masks, as a protective measure, in case of war.”

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“Mr. Bennett Knows,” Toronto Star. April 28, Page 06.

[paper outside White House reads ‘Roosevelt is His Country’s Idol and Hope because of his defiance and prosecution of Wall Street and the Big Interests.]

“Mr. Bennett: Yes, but Roosevelt has never been up against that St. James Street bunch.”

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“Les policiers de Verdun apprennent le jiu-jitsu,” Photo-Journal. April 28, 1938. Page 02.

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“With the Cold War having run its course, the cement in which the Korean ‘problem’ was embedded for nearly half a century cracks and the Cold War supports upon which the system of confrontation rested begin to crumble. Witnesses long intimidated, isolated or silenced by the many walls of the Cold War system find their voice and relate new details illuminating the path traversed by the Korean states since their establishment. North Korea is paradoxical. In the late twentieth century it remains somewhat like central Africa on the eve of Western colonial conquest in the mid-nineteenth century—beyond the ‘pale’ of civilization, closed, threatening, idolatrous; yet, at the same time it is also, on the surface at least, an urban, educated society, a ‘modern industrial state’. By 1992 the regime in Pyongyang rested uneasily on ramparts of history and ideology which were increasingly eroded by the flow of evidence that washes around and beneath them, subverting and destabilizing as surely as any enemy siege. It is hard to think of any historical parallel for a regime which rests its claims to legitimacy on evidence so demonstrably false and distorted, a regime which declares, in effect: ‘The earth is flat.’”

–  Gavan Maccormack, “KIM COUNTRY: HARD TIMES IN NORTH KOREA,” New Left Review

I/198, March-April 1993

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depression that wracked the U.S. between 1873 and 1878 left charity
officials convinced that there were few truly deserving dependents.
Economic turmoil left approximately three million people without
work, many for several years, and industrialization and urbanization
made the issue far more visible to charity officials. Veritable
armies of tramps and vagrants roamed the countryside even after the
economy began to rebound in 1879. Workers protested drastic pay cuts
and unemployment by the tens of thousands, most notably during the
massive general strikes of the Great Upheaval in 1877.
charity reformers and state charity officials rejected workers’
contention that no jobs existed, as well as the notion that massive
industrialization had created structural unemployment. Instead, “the
most prominent economic theories of the era” supported charity
officials’ views that workers were merely lazy. As historian Paul
Ringenbach explains, “Classical economists, both in Europe and
the United States, treated unemployment as a transitory and
essentially insignificant phenomenon…. The responsibility for
sustained idleness, therefore, rested largely on the shoulders of the
working class itself.”
local and state charity officials offered aid erratically. Poorhouse
keepers continued to require that able-bodied men first complete a
work test by chopping wood or breaking stones. State after state,
meanwhile, passed or strengthened vagrancy laws that criminalized
public dependency and tramps searching for employment.
passed the first vagrancy act in 1866. Modeled on the infamous Black
Codes of the South, the act enforced six months’ labor in a workhouse
or house of correction for convicted vagrants and vagabonds. This
act, ironically, was enacted just a month after Congress passed the
Civil Rights Act, “thereby voiding the southern Black Codes
which, among other things, had punished free slaves for vagrancy and
idleness. At the very moment when Republicans in Congress were
enshrining the legal supremacy of free labor as a cornerstone of
Reconstruction, their brethren in Massachusetts were engaged in
constructing an apparatus of labor compulsions.” Pennsylvania
followed in 1871,1876, and 1879; Illinois in 1874 and 1877; New York
in 1880 and 1885, and the other New England states throughout the
of the newly formed state charity boards and professional charity
reformers—especially those involved with the new “scientific
charity” movement—redefined beggars as “swindlers”
who refused to do their proper share of work in exchange for alms.
Amy Dru Stanley suggests, advocates of scientific charity
“convert[ed] a dependency relation into a relation of contract.”
officials and professional charity reformers would maintain their
skeptical view of the poor and public dependents well past 1900.

growing influence of hereditarian thought—especially degeneracy
theory intensified the
fears of charity officials and professional charity reformers about
public dependents. Professional charity reformers like Lowell
believed that socially undesirable behaviors like intemperance or
prostitution were hereditary in nature. A tendency towards public
dependency, therefore, could be passed down to children. A poor
environment, moreover, contributed to an individual’s degenerate
state and would be reflected in future generations. Likewise, a moral
environment could potentially improve a family’s germ plasm.This
mixture of environmentalism and hereditarian thinking reached its
peak in Richard L. Dugdale’s 1877 tract, “The
Jukes”: a Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease,
traced a 1,200 member clan of drunkards, thieves, bastards, beggar
prostitutes, syphilitics, and murderers. In a manner reminiscent of
Howe’s 1848 report on idiots,
Dugdale stressed “human cost accounting” and argued that
the 1,200 members of the Jukes clan had cost New York more than $1.3
million over the past 75 years.

the mid-to-late 1870s, state charity officials in New York and other
states even adopted a pejorative, hereditarian view of the deserving
poor. This transformation is perhaps best illustrated by Charles S.
Hoyt’s exhaustive 1876 survey of county poorhouse inmates, “Report
on the Causes of Pauperism.” Hoyt, the secretary of the State
Charities Board (SBC), argued that the “the number of persons in
our poor-houses who have been reduced to poverty by causes outside of
their own acts is, contrary to the general impression, surprisingly
the Board began experimenting with requiring county poorhouses to
extend work programs to public dependents—even the traditionally
deserving and partially disabled poor. SBC member Martin B. Anderson,
for instance, contended, “We believe that work should be
provided for weak-minded and partially infirm paupers, even if it
shall return no profit to the counties. The inmates of our
poor-houses will always be healthier and happier when employed than
when idle.”

professional charity reformer—and advocate of scientific charity—
Josephine Shaw Lowell played a key role in popularizing charity
officials’ harsher vision of public dependency and the deserving
poor. In 1876, at only 33 years of age, Lowell became the first woman
to be appointed to the New York State Board of Charities. Her
appointment derived largely from her 1876 report on able-bodied
paupers for the New York State Charities Aid Association, which many
professional charity reformers saw as “a model of the new
social-scientific approach.” As Waugh explains, Lowell’s report
blended statistics and anecdotes in order to discover “the
‘truth’ about public dependency. Once the truth was made manifest,
its scientific aura of ‘neutrality’ would impress both legislators
and the public to approve the needed reforms.”
lambasted charity officials’ current approach to public dependency.
She suggested that charity policy effectively told “the vicious
and idle: ‘We will board you free of cost, if you will only come and
stay among us.’ The money wasted in this way is the least of the
evils of the present system; the corrupting influence of these
worthless men and women, as they pass from town to town, lodging
among the people, must be incalculable.”

have dismissed Lowell as a harsh elitist obsessed with restoring
order, yet her legacy is more complex.
historian Joan Waugh explains, Lowell reflected her family’s history
of “conflicting traditions—elitism versus democracy,
exclusiveness versus inclusiveness, paternalism versus liberalism.”
the one hand, Lowell believed strongly in building voluntary,
rationalized charity programs, as did most of other professional
charity reformers in the late nineteenth century. She shared with
other leaders of the scientific charity movement a “didactic
impulse…’to instill’ in the urban poor worthy values” and a
devout belief in the moral value of work, and an environmentalist
faith that properly structured institutions could prevent degeneracy.
the other hand, despite her Brahmin background, Lowell and her family
held “an inclusive vision of American society—a vision at odds
with the paternalistic exclusivity of many of their peers.”
maintained her family’s radical political traditions, which extended
from her father’s financing of the Utopian Brook Farm community and
her entire family’s active role in the abolitionist movement to her
later support for mothers’ pensions, the living wage, binding
arbitration, and the Homestead Strike.
work on the feeble-minded, however, represented her more elitist,
exclusive side.

on the State Board of Charities, Lowell redefined the question of
custodial care for the feeble-minded in such fearful terms that
neither the board nor the legislature could dismiss the issue. In
fact, Lowell’s first presentation on the topic in January 1878 proved
so convincing that board secretary Charles S. Hoyt immediately
arranged for her to meet with Wilbur and the Syracuse trustees and
ordered 1,000 copies of Lowell’s report printed.
the text of Lowell’s report has not survived, her message can be
pieced together from the Syracuse asylum’s annual report for 1878 and
speeches in

she used a similar methodology.
the Syracuse trustees recounted, Lowell documented that in county
poorhouses, “carelessness in the administration…in the matter
of a proper and rigid separation of the sexes” contributed to
high rates of illegitimate births among “imbecile and idiotic
females.” Such women, Lowell argued, were easily seduced. Their
children invariably “became a permanent burden upon the
counties.” Feeble-minded women were even more vulnerable outside
local poorhouses, although the story ended the same way: with mother
and child “abandoned to the charge of the county authorities.
thus suggested that by failing to control feeble-minded women, local
poorhouses were reproducing
public dependency,
notion anathema to charity officials. Lowell’s highly gendered
understanding of public dependency and feeble-mindedness, moreover,
proved influential in the formal eugenics movement that developed
after 1900.

order to establish a custodial asylum, Wilbur reluctantly joined
forces with Lowell. Wilbur believed that a specifically eugenic
institution was not necessary, since he thought that idiots rarely
Wilbur began to work with Lowell. Her help—along with Wilbur’s
carefully cultivated relationship with the State Board of Charities
and, in particular, his strong public support for the board in its
battle with the superintendents of insane asylums in the
mid-1870s—proved decisive.
June 1878, the legislature approved an $18,000 appropriation for the
new institution. Later that year, the New York State Custodial Asylum
for Feeble-Minded Women opened its doors in the Finger Lakes town of
Newark under the supervision of Wilbur and the Syracuse trustees.

Lowell’s defining influence on the new asylum, lawmakers and the
state board of charities declared that the Newark asylum would serve
only women of child-bearing age, and only those capable of useful
work. Moreover, inmates could not leave the asylum if they became
self-sufficient, nor could relatives easily extract them from
the institution. Newark
asylum did not have a commitment law until 1914. Nevertheless,
inmates’ families had a hard time retrieving them; moreover, many
inmates had no relatives with whom they could live. In 1909, for
instance, relatives gained the release of just seven inmates out of a
total population of 817. Superintendent Edwin T. Dunn transferred two
inmates to state insane asylums, released one to a county
superintendent of the poor, and ruled one inmate ineligible (perhaps
she had reached menopause).
however, carefully followed legislators’ mandates. The official
circular that he sent to all county superintendents of the poor
during the late 1870s and 1880s stated that "young and healthy”
women would receive priority for admission. Moreover, he rejected
women whom poorhouse officials classified as “unteachable.”
Wilbur’s successors at Newark maintained these admissions policies.

a certain degree, however, Wilbur’s vision of the ideal custodial
asylum shaped life at Newark. Following Wilbur’s 1873 outline for a
custodial program, the State Board of Charities planned that the more
capable inmates would help to care for the less capable.
Wilbur sent the Newark asylum a mixture of higher-grade and
lower-grade inmates from Syracuse and the country poorhouses—from
which the vast majority of inmates arrived.
policy presaged Charles Bernstein’s admissions strategies once he
took over as superintendent at the Rome asylum in 1902. Only 8.21
percent of inmates admitted to Newark in 1883 and between 1886 and
1920 came directly from Syracuse. Reflecting the fact that the
majority of inmates came directly from county poorhouses, most of the
approximately fifteen women admitted in 1881 arrived without even a
change of clothing. Superintendents also noted that they had to teach
most inmates how to do domestic work. SyracuseIn
practice, women with epilepsy, cerebral palsy, various types of
paralysis, and chronic diseases made up a considerable proportion of
Newark’s population (one-third in 1881). Superintendents
and the board repeatedly complained that the county superintendents
of the poor sent potential inmates because they were insane,
delinquent, aged, or otherwise troublesome, instead of idiotic,
imbecilic, or feeble-minded women. Despite provisions in Newark’s
by-laws barring women with epilepsy and the establishment of the
Craig Colony for Epileptics in 1894, Newark asylum seems to have
always had a considerable number of inmates with epilepsy, a variety
of physical disabilities, and chronic health conditions.
asylum’s superintendents lauded the caretaking abilities of inmates
who, at times, watched over as many as seventeen inmates—work that
not only reduced costs but also addressed superintendents’ continual
problems with retaining employees. The
superintendents of idiot asylums in New York and other states—and
indeed state institutions in general—could rarely match the going
wage rates Wages at the Newark asylum were significantly lower and
hours were longer than at other nearby jobs. In 1906, for instance,
the gardener received $50 but could earn $75 elsewhere.
Superintendents also often found that “higher-grade”
inmates were more interested in caring for “unteachable”
inmates than employees. Trent reports, “Higher functioning
inmates, in contrast, not only tolerated the monotony and
unpleasantries but, indeed, seemed to thrive on them.”
most professional charity reformers deplored such practices in the
country poorhouses and state insane asylums, having inmates care for
each other became increasingly common in state idiot asylums and
institutions for the feeble-minded across the nation during the late
nineteenth century.

whereas Wilbur primarily used occupational training programs to make
his students self-sufficient enough to return to their families,
state charity officials used inmates’ labor at Newark to provide care
on the cheap. In its 1879 report to the legislature,
for instance, the State Board of Charities explained that at Newark,
“the various household occupations necessary in so large a
family [will] be done, as far as possible, by the inmates, for
economy’s sake…."34The
first superintendent of Newark, C. C. Warner—the former
superintendent of the poor for the well-regarded Onondaga County
Almshouse—required all inmates capable of any type of work to
1886, inmates were making all of the clothes for the 134 residents;
in 1893, inmates produced 713 dresses, 519 chemises, and 43
strait-jackets, among other items.
inmates worked in the kitchen, laundry, canning room, and bakery and,
after 1907, in the garden.
1907, Superintendent Winspear (the third head of the asylum) proudly
reported that more than 90 percent of inmates were working. He noted
that "about fifty per cent [were] capable of doing very good and
remunerative work under proper direction.” Indeed, Winspear
planned to ensure that “every inmate not actually ill shall be
occupied every day at some suitable work or exercise.” He
intended to occupy inmates who were not capable of working
full-time—namely, “low grade girls” and inmates in ill
health—with “walking parties.”

superintendents’ extensive use of inmate labor significantly reduced
costs and, thereby, the cost of their dependency on the state of New
York. Given that institutional expenses remained a potent political
issue well past the turn of the century, the frugality of Newark’s
superintendents undoubtedly pleased the state charity officials and
Newark’s cost of maintenance (excluding clothing) was just 68 percent
of that at the Syracuse asylum, thanks to inmates’ work.
1909, for instance, inmate labor reduced the cost of clothing by
nearly half (the asylum spent $4,109.20 on materials for clothing;
the matron, meanwhile, valued inmates’ labor in the sewing rooms at
$3,486.61). Inmates also produced $600.21 worth of canned goods
ranging from strawberries and plums to floor wax and lard, helped
raise $2,483.57 in farm produce, and helped save $2,116.07 in
provisions and $1,189.06 in household stores. Overall, inmate labor
reduced expenditures on food, household supplies, and clothing by
nearly 22 percent in 1909 (including salaries, managers’ expenses,
and miscellaneous items, inmate labor reduced costs by just over 15
for inmates at Newark, work constituted a civic obligation to be
self-sufficient—or at least reduce the cost of their dependency.
Nonetheless, unlike at the Syracuse asylum, inmates’ labors did not
provide them with a path to discharge.

contrast to Wilbur, superintendents at the Newark asylum did not
believe that productive inmates could be safely discharged; indeed,
Newark superintendents’ hereditarian concerns led them to retain
nearly all inmates. Trustees
and superintendents alike continually harped on the relatively small
number of inmates who had children before they entered the asylum and
the lack of sex segregation in poorhouses (the annual reports usually
reported that 20 to 25 percent of inmates had been mothers, but cited
a rate of 50 percent in 1898). In 1889, the asylum’s trustees
described the institution as serving “Imbecile women in our
State, born in alms-houses and never having had any other home, have
been mothers from once to four times.”
four “higher grade” inmates whom W. L. Willett discharged
in 1892 represented a rare exception. Willett later reported that all
four had obtained “good places to work through the efforts of
the superintendents of the poor of the counties from which they were
committed.” Willett
later received “good reports” from the former inmates. Nine
inmates were released to their relatives in 1894 after improving
considerably; most became self-sustaining. A few others were
dismissed in 1912 because they were no longer seen as “menace[s]
to society,” but these discharges appear to have all been rare
exceptions. In total, women discharged as not requiring custodial
care, not imbecilic, much improved, and improved made up 64 or 10.18
percent of the 599 discharges between 1894 and 1920 (most
women were classed as “improved"—39, or 6.51 percent).
Six inmates (were discharged after gaining
writs of habeus corpus.
1879 and 1920, the Newark asylum had a discharge rate of only 3.92
percent. In contrast, the Syracuse asylum had an overall discharge
rate of 9.37 percent between 1882 and 1920, nearly 2.4 times greater
than Newark (discharge data is not available for 1879, 1880, or
1881). Male pupils at Syracuse were forty percent more likely to be
discharged than female students. Moreover, the largest group of
discharges at the Newark asylum (28.38 percent of the 599 discharges
between 1894 and 1920) represented inmates who had reached menopause.

superintendents’ habit of abruptly dismissing inmates at menopause
did not ease families’ attempts to absorb their relatives. In
contrast to Wilbur, Newark superintendents paid little attention to
whether their families could receive them (inmates whose relatives
could not take them were sent to their county poorhouses). In 1894,
Mrs. Elizabeth Goodings, for instance, wrote to the State Board of
Charities begging that Superintendent Winspear not discharge her
daughter: "I am totally without income (77 years of age) and
dependent on my soninlaw [sic]….
will not be wiling to receive Emily into his home…. It would break
my heart if my oldest child should be obliged to go to a county house
or an insane asylum…. Does it not seem cruel to throw these
children back into the condition from which you have taken them…[?]
With the exception that they cannot propogate [sic]
kind, will not there last condition be as sad as their first?]”

pioneering model of custodial care—preventing the "feeble-minded”
from reproducing public dependency while demanding that they fulfill
the civic obligation to be self-sufficient—had a nationwide impact
on how lawmakers and charity officials dealt with people labeled
feeble-minded. Superintendents at the Newark asylum proved that, if
inmates were carefully selected for their ability to be producers,
custodial care was cheaper than educational idiot asylums. At Newark,
moreover, inmates’ labor helped to defray the cost of their own
public dependency on the state—an approach that legislators in many
other states found attractive.
the deserving, disabled poor were becoming undeserving, burdensome
dependents whom charity officials expected would become at least
partly self-sufficient.

New York State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women at Newark
provided charity officials and lawmakers with a cost-effective means
of addressing a new policy problem: how to prevent the reproduction
of public dependency by people labeled as feeble-minded. Nonetheless,
the asylum was too small to house all feeble-minded women of
child-bearing age. Nor could the asylum accept women who “aged
out” or homeless male graduates of Syracuse. Finally, like the
Syracuse asylum, the Newark asylum did not provide a solution for
what to do with people who could not work—those who were labeled
“unteachable” or were too ill. All of these factors would
lead lawmakers to establish the Rome State Custodial Asylum for
Unteachable Idiots in 1894.

– Sarah Frances Rose, No Right to Be Idle: The Invention of Disability, 1850-1930. Dissertation, University of Chicago, 2008. pp. 67-82

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Marcus Rees Roberts, The 3p Novel XII. Etching and aquatint, 1977.

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“Neither in the Muslim world nor in the Byzantine empire
did towns have the autonomy that they had in classical times
or in the medieval West. For one thing, Muslim law
recognized no corporate bodies or collective organizations
standing between the state and the individual. This does not
mean that towns possessed no corporate spirit; it is merely
that towns, serving as centres of culture and administration,
were considered as integral parts of the state structure.
Without civic institutions and without citizenship, the town
was governed through two groups of men, the civic-military
and the religious. The civil and military officers exercised an
authority deriving from the sultan’s power, and were mainly
responsible for general public security, fire fighting, and
police duties. 

The members of the religious learned group
were concerned with matters of Islamic law, which also
included such police obligations as watching over public
The lack of autonomy of the Ottoman town served to
enhance the position of the Ottoman capital. The city was
divided for administrative purposes into four units-the
ancient Constantinople, or Istanbul proper; Galata, lying on
the opposite shore of the Golden Horn; Eyyub, situated at
the northern end of the Golden Horn; and Uskidar, nestled
on the Asiatic shore of the Bosporus. In Istanbul, the centre
of power was the complex of Topkapi, which served as
palace, court, household, and residence of the Ottoman
sultans from about 1478 to the nineteenth century. Among
the officials serving at Topkapi were several officers who had
important police duties. 

At the top of the managerial structure was the grand vizier,
who was generally responsible for all security and police
matters along with his many other obligations. No fewer than

five palace officers served under him to supervise the policing
of the four areas of the capital-the supreme admiral
(Kapudan Pasha), the chief of the armourers (Jebeji Bashi),
the chief of the gunners (Topchu Bashi), the leader of the
elite fighting unit, known as the Aga of the Janissaries, and
the head gardener (Bostanji Bashi), whose title was not
completely indicative of his real influence in the empire. 

The Aga of the Janissaries controlled the most powerful
military force in the Ottoman empire and served as chief of
police for most of the capital. He was a member of the
council of state and held a position over all other generals
and all ministers below the rank of vizier. His responsibilities
included the protection of property and the maintenance of
order in most of Istanbul. Twice a week he inspected the
capital to see personally that everything was in order. The
Sekban Bashi, or Segmen Bashi, was the Janissary officer who
substituted for the Aga when the latter left the capital. In
time of peace, when the Aga would be present in the city, the
Sekban Bashi was responsible for the defence of the capital.
Another Janissary officer, the Muhdir Aga, provided
protection for the grand vizier and acted as intermediary
between the grand vizier and the Aga of the Janissaries. He,
with the grand vizier, ruled over judicial questions concerning
the Janissaries and was responsible for punishing Janissaries
found guilty of infractions.

The Janissary influence in police matters was evident at the
non-officer level as well. Janissary units stationed at the
capital performed many police duties, with each district
having a unit stationed there for one year. Patrols went from
the district posts into all the streets and markets of that
district, preventing or punishing crimes, and executing the
decisions of the religious authorities on matters relating to
the laws of Islam and the rulings of the sultan. When these
Janissary units were outside the capital on campaigns, other
military units filled in for them. 

Other officers, too, participated in the police system. The
commander of the gunners had jurisdiction over Beyoglu or
Pera, and the area adjoining the arsenal. The chief of
armourers had similar responsibility for Aya Sofya, Hoja

Pasha, and the Stable Gate. The admiral of the fleet was
responsible for maintaining public order at the naval base and
arsenal at Kasim Pasha, the district of Galata, and other
districts situated on the bank north of the Golden Horn. The
intermediary between the government and police officers was
the court official known as the Chavush-Bashi, who
introduced ambassadors to the presence of the sultan and
served as an administrator of justice and as envoy. When a
man was convicted, a chavush was sent with a commission to
the nearest official having the power to execute the sentence.
He sometimes waited for tangible proof, often the head of
the condemned man, that the mission was accomplished. 

A highly influential official was the sultan’s chief gardener,
the Bostanji-Bashi, who was the only person permitted to
wear a beard in the interior of the palace. He was responsible
for the surveillance of all the residences of the sovereign and
the lands where they were situated, particularly the banks of
the Bosporus. Over two thousand men were under his
command, and it was he who directed the questioning or
execution of delinquent officials. Although some bostanjis
actually did gardening work, most served as guards at the
sultan’s palaces or as watchmen on the palace grounds.
Jurisdiction extended from the Dardanelles to the mouth of
the Black Sea as well as over many towns on the coast. In the
ports located on the Sea of Marmara, the Bosporus, and the
Golden Horn, the bostanjis controlled the shipping and
served as local police. Another group of bostanjis served as
bodyguards to the sultan and had the honour to row his
private boat. A description of what occurred when the
Bostanji-Bashi made his evening rounds on the Bosporus is
contained in an edited account of an eighteenth-century

All the parties on its shores disperse, and the women, in particular,
retire precipitately to their homes. One evening … the
bostanji-bashi appeared in his barge, manned by twenty-four
rowers; he had inflicted punishment on some drunken persons, and
ordered some females who were rather too merry to be secured; he
then ran, without noise, alongside the kiosk of a Greek lady, and
after listening for a few minutes to the conversation that was
passing, he climbed over the balustrade with several of his men.

The lady and her paramour were quit with the sacrifice of all the
diamonds, jewels, and money they had about them: and they durst
not hesitate a moment; for the bostanji-bashi, who had surprised
them, would have apprehended them, carried them on board his
barge, and conveyed them to prison, had not his avarice at length
rendered him tractable.

In the matter of punishment, the same writer describes how
the Bostanji-Bashi listened to complaints entered against his
agents and rendered strict justice to both the errant bostanjis
and any inhabitants whom he caught in a wrongful act:

Should any inhabitants whom he caught in a wrongful act:
If this officer hears a noise in any house, or sees a light in it at
unseasonable hours, he orders stones to be thrown at the windows;
on the slightest suspicion, he breaks open the door, searches it all
over, and frequently punishes the master with a fine and the
bastinado. He tries in a summary manner the offenders seized by
his people, whatever may be their crimes; and in cases of robbery,
if those who have lost anything recover it by his means, he charges
them ten percent. He is likewise . . superintendent of the
fountains and water conducted into the seraglio or distributed over
the city. If his people catch persons sporting and can secure them,
they take away their arms and bring them before him to be

Special tasks of surveillance and detective work were given to
two groups known as the Bojek Bashis and the Salma Tebdil
Chokadaris. The Bojek Bashis were responsible for the
punishment of thieves and the prevention of robbery. Their
agents-some of whom were women-possibly acted as
plainclothes detectives and were recruited from the ranks of
repentant thieves and criminals. The Chokadaris, numbering
between twenty to forty men, were concerned with the
neglect of religious duties, such as children who were making
a noise in the mosques during the Muslim month of fasting,
the prevention of gambling that might cause a public
disturbance, and the improper behaviour of Janissaries in
public places. The chief of the Chokadaris had agents, also
disguised, to frequent the markets, bazaars, cafes, taverns,
and public baths, watching that the Janissaries caused no

scandal and prohibiting the prostitutes from plying their
trade in public places or in cemeteries. Each day the chief
reported to his superiors on the state of popular feeling in the

The two police officers closest to the civil population of
the capital were the Asas Bashi and the Subashi. They went
on rounds of inspection, arresting persons apprehended in the
act of committing a crime, and inflicting punishments as
decreed by the authorities. The main prison, named after the
patron saint of prisoners, was under their joint control. The
Asas Bashi was a Janissary officer in charge of the public jails
and supervisor of all public executions. Because of these two
jobs it was his duty to appear at all meetings in the Saray as
well as at the Porte. He was also responsible for clearing
crowds from the streets during ceremonial occasions. 

Another hat worn by the Asas Bashi was that of chief of
the night patrol. During the hours of darkness it was
permitted for persons to be out of doors only if they had a
lantern. The Asas Bashi seized the violators of this and other
regulations and applied a punishment which could consist not
only of imprisonment or application of the bastinado but
also work tasks such as carrying wood for the public
bathhouse furnaces. As part of his remuneration the Asas
Bashi received one tenth of the fines imposed for
drunkenness and similar offences committed at night. 

The general responsibility for policing the city during the
daytime was shared by a chief of the local Janissaries, known
as the Subashi, and by the market superintendent, the
Muhtesib. In the sixteenth century the Subashi of Istanbul
brought the persons summoned before the judge and carried
out the sentences he handed down. As the police magistrate
affiliated with the Chavushes, the Subashi had jurisdiction
over everyone except Janissaries. He apparently had a terrible
reputation for his harsh treatment of wrongdoers as he went
about keeping order during the day and working with the
Muhtesib to see that the regulations concerning merchants
and artisans were respected. 

Although municipal institutions were lacking in the strict
sense, corporations or guilds did exist in the capital and did
require special attention. The seven hundred or more guilds were divided into sections. The second section, under the
supervision of the police provost, contained a strange mixture
of guilds: watchmen, horse-jobbers, hangmen, grooms,
press-gang men, lictors, thieves and footpads, and policemen.
Responsibility for normal surveillance of guild affairs in
matters of measures, weights, and prices theoretically rested
with the religious judge, but was in fact shared by the grand
vizier, who was responsible for all governmental affairs, the
Aga of the Janissaries, who was in charge of the general
policing of Istanbul, and the Muhtesib. They made periodical
rounds to check that the shopkeepers were acting properly in
commercial transactions. Accompanied by intendants and
soldiers, the Muhtesibs inspected the markets and patrolled
the streets. If the law had been broken, they punished the
wrongdoer at once, either physically or financially. 

Muhtesib specialized in the repression of fraud committed by
merchants and artisans, and saw that the laws on commerce
were applied correctly, that merchandise imported into the
capital was equally distributed, and that the fixed prices for
goods were maintained. He inspected the premises, controlled
weights and measures, and collected special taxes from the
members of the corporations.
The Muhtesib, the Aga of the Janissaries, the
Bostanji-Bashi, and the other police officers apparently
accomplished their task well because what scant evidence
there is indicates that serious crimes were rare in Istanbul and
that public tranquillity usually prevailed. Murders were few,
possibly because of the code of responsibility for such a
crime. If the perpetrator was not found, the inhabitants of
the quarter where the crime was committed would have to
pay blood-money. As for unrest in the city, although there
were Janissary and guild rebellions, the civil population
remained quiet. It seemed to recognize the risks it would
incur if it acted against the power of the sultan, especially
when that power was protected by a well-established police



Glen W. Swanson, “The Ottoman Police.” Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 7, No. ½ (Jan. – Apr., 1972). pp. 244-250.

Art is: 

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Turkish Patrol. Oil on canvas, 1831. 

Wallace Collection, London


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“What was clear from the many official reports and accounts which were claiming
that policing was becoming more scientific and efficient were concerns about the
greater level of mobility offered to criminals by the motor car. The ‘Motor Age’, it was
asserted, had enabled a re-dispersal of population and ‘activities’ to the country where
property was more vulnerable than in urban areas. A perceived shift of criminal

activity from urban to move sub-urban and rural areas led to the following
conclusions, from Fabian of the Yard, London
After Dark
. London: Panther, 1958:   

The motor car enables the criminally minded in the great towns to travel faster and
farther afield into regions where they are not known and the chances of interference
with their criminal activities before they return, or of subsequent arrest, are less. The
motor car also enables more people to live in the country, either all the year round,
or during the summer, or during weekends… There new dwelling places in the
country tempt the criminal and strain the resources of the police … The temptation
to the idle or criminally disposed in the town areas is two-fold; first to ‘borrow’ a car
and, secondly, to ‘do a job’ with it; and the chances of doing the job successfully and
of getting away are so much greater in the country that only the most daring prefer
the more dramatic ‘smash-and-grab’ raid or ‘bag-snatching’ in the middle of a
town, the numbers of which latter offences are relatively so few that they hardly go to
swell the statistics of crime throughout the country.

In discussions about rationalising police forces during the 1930s, Reports of the Police
Inspectors again confirm contemporary concern about the mobility afforded by the
motor car. Constables, it was urged, needed to have greater mobility and increased use
of, in this case, pedal or motor cycles, especially in patrolling suburban and rural areas.
Also, from the

Report of W. D. Allan, H. M. Inspector of Constabulary.

(counties and boroughs, England and Wales). Reports of His Majesty’s
Inspectors of Constabulary for the Year Ended 29th September
, 1932: 

the uniform constable must pay more attention to serious crime not only in his own
force but also in neighbouring forces. This is due to the fact that by use of the motor
the ‘wanted person’ quickly removes himself from the locus of the crime, with the
result, if his arrest is to be effected, it will probably take place in the jurisdiction of
another force—hence co-operation between forces becomes more important every

Criminal accounts from the period, often described as autobiographical, are also a
useful means by which to explore criminal mobility. In many ways these are
dramatisations or constructions and it is difficult to determine how representative
they are. Furthermore, as has been pointed out by Paul Lawrence, ‘No literary work
can convey an accurate record of an entire life, and hence all such attempts are
necessarily selective, adapting and filtering reality.’43 But they do provide interesting
even enticing, albeit distorted ‘vignettes’, on why and how offenders moved as well as
how far they travelled in geographical terms. This is sometimes with the primary
motive of committing an offence or because their existing offending has, they feel,
forced them to travel to avoid arrest. Unlike prisoners’ accounts, which are primarily
or wholly concerned with prison experiences, and show the distancing of the criminal
from the world and often their acquiescence and conformity with their punishment,
accounts of criminals and their crimes exude a greater liveliness and challenge. Evident
in some of the Americanised language often used in this genre, it catered more to
thrilling and exciting its readership and this must be taken into account when
interpreting them. However, there is less reason to be sceptical about basic information
on geographic movement than the exhilarating detail about crime.

According to an account by one of the Dartmoor offenders, John Wilson, better
known as Ruby Sparks but also by numerous other aliases, he had departed London
for the north with two accomplices, including his lover, to ‘cool off’ as the police were
getting too close. In his own words, Wilson went ‘touring the provinces, blowing safes
and screwing [burglary] country houses’. His record up to 1932 included convictions
in London, Kent, Sutton and Manchester. Indeed, a striking mug shot of him looks out
from a copy of the Manchester Evening News (15 August 1927) reporting on his escape
from Strangeways Gaol.

One criminal account that cashed in on public fear and fascination with not only
motor bandits but the American gangster was Road Pirate: The Confessions of a Motor
(1934) by Eddie Browne. Browne stole cars and drove them as part of smashand-grab
raids and other robberies committed by small gangs across England and
Scotland before smuggling himself into Canada and then into America where he
appears to have inhabited the fringes of American gangster culture.46 James Spenser
had been to borstal and then Dartmoor Convict Prison during the mid-1920s for
burglary offences before smuggling himself into America in 1926/1927. According to
his own account, Spenser became a gunman in New York and then Los Angeles before
serving two years in San Quentin and being deported back to England. He relocated to
America because ‘my police record in England was so bad that I couldn’t risk another

Rather less dramatically, John Worby, an English orphan sent out to Canada when
he was a 14-year-old, travelled widely around America as a hobo and petty criminal
until being deported back to England, where he continued a largely vagrant,
wandering lifestyle with occasional periods of work and/or minor criminality but also
a short period in India while in the Army. In contrast, according to his own claims,
Netley Lucas led a distinctly more flamboyant lifestyle financed by his crimes. A
youthful middle-class confidence trickster, later to become a freelance journalist and
self-styled expert on crime, Lucas claims to have travelled throughout England
(London, the south east, the south coast, the Midlands and the north west), in Europe
(including Sicily, Naples, Rome, Genoa, Turin, Nice and Paris), Canada (Halifax,
Montreal and Toronto) and America (New York) – all within seven or eight years.
Lucas himself had at one point relocated from London to Gloucester when things got
‘too hot’ with the police.

These accounts contain similarities and in many respects conform to a stereotype in
which they claim to make no excuses for criminality but assert the possibility of reform
irrespective of the circumstances. The authors explain the excitement and seductive
qualities of crime, including travel. They claim to reveal the unvarnished truth but also
the extent to which they suffered before seeing the foolishness of their lives and
deciding to go straight and settle down personally and geographically. In that respect
mobility and criminality are inextricably linked in these narratives. A tendency to
gravitate to London is also marked in these accounts, as it is in many of the criminal
records of the Dartmoor offenders. They persist in returning there as a place that was known and offered opportunities for those who made a criminal and often predatory
living from others.”

– Alyson Brown, “Crime, Criminal Mobility and Serial Offenders in Early Twentieth-Century Britain.” Contemporary British History, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 2011, pp. 558-561. 

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Edvard Munch, Towards the Forest I. Print, 1897. Source.

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Edvard Munch, The Kiss IV. Woodcut, 1902. Source.

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“Swastika Signs Painted on Walls of Stadium,” Kingston Whig-Standard. April 25, 1935. Page 16.

Workmen Busy Cleaning Off Work of Vandals Who Spread Paint Last Night on Queen’s Campus.

Queen’s University broke out into a rash of Swastika signs during the night, the walls and gates of the Richardson Stadium being painted with the emblems and other signs believed to have an anti-Semitic flavor.  University officials set men to work early this morning to obliterate the vandalism and by noon today had most of the traces cleaned up.

The Stadium received the brunt of the demonstration with Swastika and signs being painted all the way around the wall and on the gates in black paint. One sign read ‘Jews know thy place.’ At the University, Swastikas were sketched with red paint on the sidewalks at the rear of the Douglas Library.

Although it could not be confirmed, there is said to be a Swastika Club in existence at Queen’s.”

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Ferdinand Hodler, Der Hellebardier. Oil on canvas, 1895. Dallas Museum of Art.

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Herb “Herblock” Block, “You read books, eh?” April 24, 1949. Ink, graphite, and opaque white over graphite underdrawing on layered paper. Published in the Washington Post. LC-USZ62-127202

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