Foreign Description of Criminals and Stolen Property. Sheriff's Office. Tulare County. [Cover title].
various: 1910-1916. 17-1/2 x 15-1/4 inches. [28, index],pp. Large ledger-type book bound in cloth with leather corners and spine labels, with an alphabetical tabbed index at the front and blank leaves following. Contains nearly 300 wanted flyers, sheriff's and police bulletins, and posters on 60 leaves, with almost all leaves used fully both recto and verso; nearly all of the items are pasted to the leaves, although a few are loose and laid in. Sizes vary, from 3-1/2 x 5-1/2 inch cards to a 22-1/2 x 15 inch poster, with the bulk being in the median range. Many are illustrated with b&w photographic reproductions of their subjects; 19 have real photographs either attached to them or as part of the flyer. Scattered soiling, toning, creases and short tears; pencil "X" marks to several. Good overall.
A remarkable collection of wanted flyers, cards, bulletins and posters, which appear to have been sent to the Sheriff's Office in Tulare County, California, from other police and sheriff's offices in other counties in California and throughout the West, and ranging as far afield as the East coast of the U.S., in order to alert the Tulare office should any of these criminals be seen and/or apprehended there for other crimes. The items date from 1910 to 1916, and are pasted into the book roughly chronologically, presumably as they were received; a notable portion are "x"ed out in pencil, possibly denoting that they are no longer applicable.
Each flyer, card, poster, etc, contains a description of the criminal (convicted or alleged), regardless of whether or not it is accompanied by an illustration, as well as a brief description of the crime they are being sought for. Not surprisingly, the descriptions include the race, ethnicity and sometimes the nationality of the wanted person, which provides fascinating insight into the how those factors influenced the perception of those likely to commit crimes. For example, particularly in the Western items, men of "Indian" and/or Mexican descent are always described as such, often as "full" or "half-blooded", and in at least one case the tribal affiliation, Cherokee, is given.
The book also offers a window into the kinds of crimes committed at the time, as well as the types of people (nearly all men here) alleged to be the perpetrators and the value placed on their capture by either law enforcement, hired detective agencies, or the victims. Murder, larceny, and fraud by far seem to be the most prevalent crimes for which people are sought here, although men wanted for escaping from prison are not uncommon, a few are wanted for rape, one is wanted for "white slavery", and a number are wanted for less or non-violent crimes, like jewelry and horse theft, or in the case of one woman, adultery; a small number of the remaining items are for those who are missing or have run away.
Finally, the book provides information about how different law enforcement agencies and detective agencies interacted before the FBI began circulating wanted flyers and posters, which didn't happen until sometime around 1919.
All in all, a fascinating collection of material, worthy of further research.