How We Receive Information–From the Telegraph to the Associated Press

A brief history on the speed of obtaining information beginning with the telegraph and the Associated Press.

History Timeline of the Telegraph


Although the electric telegraph is outdated as a means of communication, if you think about it, its behavior of transmitting electric signals through wires from one place to the next as a method of communicating was phenomenal for its time. The timeline below is a window for those who deserve credit with their ideas and inventions, but it does not pay homage to every individual involved with inventions and extraordinary innovation on the subject of the evolvement of communication methods.

  • 1794 – Claude Chappe invented the non-electric telegraph which was replaced by the electric telegraph.
  • 1809 – Samuel Soemmering invented a crude type of telegraph using wires and gold electrodes in water. The message was read by the amount of gas caused by electrolysis.
  • 1820 – Hans Christian Oersted, a Danish physicist, discovers electric current in a wire will generate a magnetic field that deflects a compass needle.
  • 1825 – William Sturgeon, British inventor, created the idea of the electromagnet.
  • 1828 – Harrison Dyar invented the first telegraph used in the United States. His method generated burned dots and dashes used on paper tape that was chemically treated initiated by electrical sparks.
  • 1830 – Joseph Henry, an American inventor, brought more attention to Sturgeon’s method showing the benefit of the electromagnet for communicating by long distance. He sent electronic currents over a wire measuring a mile which caused an electromagnet to deploy the striking of a bell.
  • 1837 – William Cooke, British physicist, and Charles Wheatstone designed a telegraph under their own patent with the principle of electromagnetism.
  • 1848 – Associated Press is formed.
  • 1900 – Fredrick Creed came up with the Creed Telegraph System in which code could be converted to text.
  • 1913 – Western Union developed a method which would allow eight messages to be sent at once.
  • 1927 – Western Union came up with the first auto facsimile machine.
  • 1959 – TELEX is born.

Samuel Morse


I don’t know how many people are aware of the fact that Samuel Morse was an artist. In the early 1800s, he attended the Royal Academy of Arts in London. After he returned to the states, he opened a studio in Boston. In 1819, he was commissioned to paint a portrait of President James Monroe. In 1823, he opened an art studio in New York City. In 1826, Morse became the founder as well as president of the National Academy of Design. In September of 1837, Morse stepped away from painting to devote his time to the telegraph.

Although Samuel Morse proved signals could be transmitted by wire, it wasn’t until 1843 that he and his associates were funded $30,000 from Congress to aid in constructing a telegraph line from Baltimore to Washington D.C. The experiment wasn’t a success, so they put the wires above ground. The first news to be dispatched to the Capitol was transmitted in 1844. Later, private funds were obtained by Morse to have a line extended to the states of New York and Philadelphia. Telegraph companies were opening in other parts of the country and in 1851, the year Western Union began, the telegraph was the method to dispatch trains. Morse’s original telegraph printed code on tape and a well-trained operator could send up to 50 words per minute.

Once Morse is successful in receiving a patent on his invention of the telegraph, he begins receiving royalties. With the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, the telegraph was widely used by both sides involved in the war.

In 1871, a statue of Morse is set on display in New York’s Central Park. Morse relays a message of goodbye to everyone, especially his fan base. He dies the following year.

With the development of the telegraph, instead of news being circulated via the railroad or other means (e.g., Pony Express), it was transmitted instantly between cities. There were other benefits thorugh the use of the telegraph relating to business and financial opportunities, but was to be ultimately replaced by the invention of the telephone. Western Union, however, still operates in sending telegrams and transmitting money orders.

The Associated Press

From old keys …


…to new keys – to achieve the similar end result remains the same.


How many times can we pick up a newspaper or read news on-line and not see the article was from an Associated Press (AP) contributor? The AP has one of the largest digital archives of photographs in the world and this news organization has received more photo Pulitzers than any other organization of the same caliber. It is a not-for-profit news cooperative formed in 1846 by Moses Yale Beachand. In 1848, the AP formed and pooled telegraph traffic of news related stories.

Interestingly, in February 1861, Abraham Lincoln is en route to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. and an AP reporter, Henry Villard, who has a relationship with Lincoln manages to obtain his notes for his inaugural address to communicate same by telegraph.

News and stories relating to the Civil War were communicated by telegraph by AP reporters. In 1866, with the completion of a telegraph cable between Europe and North America, international news is highlighted.

With the inception of the Teletype, AP could take the news in a whole different direction. “Teletype,” was a trade name for a particular brand of printing telegraph, but it became a generic term for printing telegraphs from other manufacturers. The type of technology it used was the principal technology for printing telegraphs. Similar to a telegraph, the Teletype operated over circuits. The sound effects of a Teletype are still used on some radio stations as background noise while the news is being delivered.

AP and its longstanding organization of historical journalism has an history archive on its site for those who are interested, and with modern technology, a reader can find AP news stories on social networking sites.


Proofread What You Write and Post on the Internet


There are over a million reasons posted in articles, comments or blogs concerning the relevance of proofreading on the Internet. It is a valuable reminder and it’s an easy process to accomplish. It only takes caring and time.


Sometimes even after proofreading our own material, we can miss seeing an error that needs to be improved. It’s a good idea to perhaps consider having a friend or family member read your material because another pair of eyes can pick up on something that might have been overlooked.

More than once, I sometimes gasp after I see a word I inadvertently omitted, so I’m thankful I have those extra minutes to quickly edit a necessary correction! I make mistakes also and sometimes after waiting a day and going back to reread, I catch something I overlooked.

Proofreading is not limited to large articles; it could involve a three-line poem also. When you read a paper version of your local newspaper, think how many eyes have to go over that favored article you read and share with others. Sometimes two or three editors go over an article because it’s a reflection of the newspaper’s standards and quality value. If this same newspaper continues to print great newsworthy articles, their readership is affected in a positive light.


If you’re producing material posted to the Internet,

by proofreading, the quality of your material will be enhanced.

Proofreading Advice

  1. Once you have read your material, step away from it for awhile, then come back and read it again before posting or submitted it.
  2. Reading an article out loud is always a good idea because sometimes an error, misplaced word or comma can be spotted using this method.
  3. Once you have your written piece, and especially if it’s not brief, print it out and read it because oftentimes mistakes can be picked up as you’re reading it off paper. Edit on paper and then make the corrections on the computer. You might be more prone to edit and fix when you see your material on paper.
  4. Don’t ever solely rely on spell-check because sometimes it can replace a word with a word you don’t want as you might inadvertently tell it “yes,” or it can overlook a word that might be spelled correctly, but may be used out of context, i.e., there, their or wear and where.

Why Proofread?

Let’s say you spent six hours writing fantastic content for an article. You didn’t rush and you previously performed all your research, so you’re ridiculously pleased with what you wrote. You have great images to accompany your piece too. Writers by profession or by passion, and writers who are meticulously perfectionists will note to themselves any error caught while reading. Whenever I see an error, I always feel I need to communicate same so the content will shine for the writer. If there is only one error, it can be let go especially if the content is amazing. If, however, there are errors in every single paragraph, sometimes a reader will not want to finish the piece and if the reader stops reading, odds are time won’t be spent on sending you any wow comments.

If you write for a blog or site, it’s very important to produce something well-written because not only does it reflect on your abilities, it also is a reflection of the blog or site to which you bring contributions. Everything you write, every e-mail you send, any material to which you send to someone or input somewhere should always be proofread. This adds to the quality of anything you produce in written language. And, you want to shine, right?

How Did the Invention of the Radio Affect the Profitability or Circulation of Newspapers?

When the radio was invented, how threatened were newspapers?  Overall, the real threat to newspapers and the radio was the television.  So, just how affected were newspapers with the inception of the radio?


Tuning Into the Radio

After the invention of the radio, readers of newspapers starting turning the dial to hear the news instead of reading about it. In the early 1930s, FM radio was invented and listeners no longer had to hear static in the background. As more people tuned in, though, newspapers’ advertisers were losing money. Thousands to millions of people were obtaining radio receivers worldwide. The radio became a replacement of the method of communication to the world, but it was also a new and exciting practice. With the radio and the millions of listeners, though, broadcasters needed to be aware of their social responsibility.

We know the benefits of the radio and that advertising could be sold on the radio instead of newspapers, but how did newspapers respond to profits being affected? Just as the internet affects our immediacy of obtaining the news, so did the radio during its inception. And, if you had a radio, you could hear information before your newspaper was delivered. What made the radio appealing to advertisers was the fact that when radio stations were formed (CBS and NBC), time slots could be sold to advertisers, but what did the advertisers really know about their potential buying public?

Has anyone ever asked a grandparent whether they listened to the famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast was recalled? It was aired in 1938 on Halloween.

Also, with wartime broadcasting on the airwaves, families would gather to listen to Edward R. Murrow’s reporting in his journalistic fashion.


Newspapers Survive the Invention of the Radio

Keep in mind that newspapers were a main source of information prior to the invention of the radio so competition became a viable factor to keep up with sales, especially how profits for advertisers were affected. This country’s history has been dependent on acquiring news and information from newspapers. The radio affected newspaper circulation. While the radio could provide a major headliner in a brief five minute’s worth of highlights, a listerner would still have had to rely on the newspaper to collect all the details.

Remember, too, that periodicals like “Time” magazine were also affecting the circulation of newspapers. With the crash of the stock market, a third of the population unemployed, a lot of the advertisers switched from newspapers to radio. Allegedly, there were 75,000 sales of radios in 1921 which rose to over 13 million in 1930. The radio, however, impacted several aspects of life in America and it wasn’t limited to news–it provided music and entertainment outside of advertisements.

Newspapers, for good reason, were concerned the radio was going to run them out of business. They forbid radio stations to just read the news from their pages until after papers were delivered. But, in time, stations like CBS Radio developed its own news department.

Newspaper giants like William Randolph Hearst even put some of his own money into keeping his papers alive. Just as the radio had to get more creative when the television was developed, so, too, did newspapers. Even with newspaper competitors, the weaker papers were going out of business and the elite papers were becoming more popular like “The New York Times” and “The Washington Post.”

Also, for those who didn’t read well anyway, the radio was more attractive because all people had to do was listen. Interestingly, once television arrived, both radio and newspapers were competing against the new form of media.

You Can’t Stop Technology, Inventions or Innovation

At best, the newpapers carried a fear they would be rendered some day as possibly obsolete with the demand for radio. What they had to do was get more creative. I’m not talking about the radio being another tool to deliver propoganda, but it was definitely another way to reach the public regardless of what a broadcaster was providing as a message to society as a whole. Families were still buying newspapers if they could afford them and people who would resist change would continue receiving a newspaper. Certainly, the newspapers didn’t want to lose any “power” to a source delivering both language and audio, which would provide persuasiveness to a greater effect.

The newer and faster of any communication tool will always be improved upon so that it is better and faster. Newspapers used to feel the radio was going to destroy effective journalism and democracy. That hasn’t happened as far as I know. There may be certain annoying broadcasters on public radio, but there’s a dial or button that can change that.

In time, just as the newspapers had the Associated Press, radio started its wire services. The battle between newspapers and radio in the early part of the 20th Century was much different than the effect of the internet on newspapers because they can publish on-line. The internet will basically become the newspaper choice of the public because it’s faster and accessible on demand. People will turn on their laptop or pads to the newspapers that will continue to be popular to anyone interested. The radio has become a source of entertainment to a large extent. You can watch the news 24/7 on your television now, but if you want to stay up and read the news, you have that option now with other tools since you can’t take your television to bed with you.

Social Marketing vs. Social Media vs. Social Media Marketing vs. Societal Marketing Concept – Like Me, Buy Me!


What Is Social Marketing?

Let’s say a marketing agency is requested to brainstorm some great ideas on how to generate awareness about not driving while severely intoxicated. So, this agency will embrace similar marketing strategies as if it were marketing a product, but in this instance, it is working to achieve something unique with the way people think and behave, i.e., “don’t drink and drive.” This type of societal marketing benefits a large group of people. It helps to change their attitude in the way they approach the pattern or habit of drinking and driving and, of course, the underlying message is that it just isn’t a good act to practice. Hence, “social” marketing.

Other similar subjects relating to society could include any bad habit that needs to be broken, let alone ever started. This agency is attempting to cause some good things to happen for those who make up society. Although a state’s campaign such as the state I live in, may not have had to hire an agency to create an idea to run language on lit up signs above the highways regarding seatbelts–“Click it, or ticket.” This is an encouragement and it’s the law. They are encouraging you to change a habit, and one which could potentially save your life some day.

Importantly, social marketing is intended to help society as a whole and to bring about some positive changes. The societal marketing concept is a combination of running a campaign that includes both making a profit and doing something good that benefits society such as producing a nice health product they can buy. More information on this field is below.

The sign below is an example of social marketing.


The stop sign symbol is the unspoken word for “Stop, don’t do this.”

Take an image of a cigarette and add text that states, “STOP,” and you have an idea for a social marketing campaign.


Is Social Marketing the Same As Social Media?

The answer to this questions is no. Social media is electronic communication that can consist of content on or within any of the following examples:

1. Blogs such as WordPress;

2. Sharing photos on sites such as Photobucket;

3. Music or personal videos made and disbursed on YouTube; or

4. Sharing information on sites like Facebook.

When a company uses these type of mediums to grab the public’s attention to market their products which in turn produces sales, this is commercial marketing, but could also be referred to as social media marketing. For example, if a potato chip company creates a page on Facebook for the purpose of wanting visitors to remember that page, that company will work hard to create a brand name that will be embedded in future customers’ minds and hopefully generate sales. This action is also basically commercial marketing to increase financial value to the chip company. It also helps to establish a relationship with consumers. Let’s face it, there is an emotional attachment when engaging in communication on Facebook and smart marketers know this.

With social marketing, however, a group of people or an organization can use the similar marketing techniques as a commercial marketing agency might use, but the benefit is not intended to have the same outcome. It’s not geared towards just making profit; it’s looking to influence listeners or readers to act—change a behavior that focuses on something good for either a whole community, society or the environment. This being said, though, let’s say there is a company in your neighborhood which in the daily course of its business sells plastic cups for a profit, which does use commercial marketing. The cup company might decide to run a campaign where a percentage of their profit per bulk order of cups, for example, be donated to the XYZ Company that is trying to persuade people to stop drinking and driving. Maybe they’ll run ads on billboards with images of totaled vehicles to help create awareness of what message they are trying to achieve. This blends the commercial aspect as well as an added value of social marketing.

To recap, we have social media, social media marketing and social marketing. Target Style, for example, markets on Facebook. Remember, one of the primary goals of businesses being on Facebook outside of increase sales is to build a relationship with their customer base. These businesses want you to “like” them. Think of how many things you have seen on Facebook and noticed how many people are following something, like Tourism Island, which I do follow. You see it has thousands of people following it, so you join in. Yay! I’m going to follow too!

When you want to benefit society in some manner by lifting your reader or listener’s awareness to cause a behavioral change or even an attitude, and all for the good, this is social marketing. Social media can be used for social marketing, but remember they are separate fields. In short, social marketing is composed of goals which can bring about social change. Think of it as a campaign driven to make a difference for the good in society.

Imagine a type of behavioral change that could change your community or even a greater part of society as a whole. Where there is a societal goal that generates a lot of positive effects, this is social marketing. Think about the environment—does your neighborhood have standing recycling bins? This might have been part of a campaign to influence a behavioral change to recycle for the benefit of many neighborhoods which compose a piece of the environment. Social marketing involves a strategy to create change in society. It involves a plan wherein the goal is to try to influence people to respond. People involved with this type of marketing know who they are marketing to very well. This is closely connected to social marketing concept discussed below.

Jessica Rogers, Adjunct Marketing Instructor at Texas A&M University-Commerce and Southern New Hampshire University recently wrote on the socialmedia todaypage:

“Approximately 73% of Fortune 500 companies have a Twitter account; 66% have Facebook Pages. However, many of these organizations lack experienced personnel to truly unleash the power of social. According to a survey by Harvard Business Review of 2,100 companies, only 12% of those utilizing media feel they use it effectively. Further, online job postings requiring social media skills have gone up 87% from 2011-2012; there is now demand for proven social media professionals.”


When your family vacation is placed on YouTube, that’s social media. When a company uploads a video to persuade consumers to change a behavior, that’s social marketing. (Source:

A great example for a platform for social media marketing is … you guessed it … Facebook.


Follow me, like me, shop me!  (Source:

Market your business on Facebook.  Examples of companies who market on Facebook: Dream Furniture, Walmart and Macy’s. Author John Grisham even has a Facebook page to help keep his fans updated on his publications.


Example of a Company That Helps to Build a Brand Name Through Social Media Management

15 Social Media Concepts to Make You a More Marketable Social Media Professional in 2013 | Social Me

Oh…More Confusion—What is Societal Marketing Concept?

Okay, this is related to consumer marketing; however, the focus is on vendors who are providing a much better product for their consumers. This, in turn, benefits the well-being of society. The overall idea of societal marketing concept is to have those who market to the public take into consideration what is socially good for the public. A company utilizing this concept in which it creates a strategy to build a relationship with their consumers or potential consumers. It almost sounds like a win-win scenario if the company is increasing its sales and employs this concept for the betterment of their consumer base. They can be giving consumers something they want, but they also have to ensure that this “want” is towards their well-being.

The company, then, can become successful in a number of ways outside of just increasing their sales. They become popular by increasing awareness of their brand(s) and because the product(s) is good, consumers will return building that solid base. This really helps to build a strong relationship between the goal of the company and the customers looking for their products. Bear in mind, though, these products are designed to benefit their customer base with something good which also folds over into society as a whole.

A Good Example of Societal Marketing Concept–Companies Producing Organic Foods


Companies who market organic foods not only make a profit, but they are also performing a service to the public by providing healthier foods.  (Click here for source.)

“I [do not] get people, like they all want to be watched, to be seen, like all the time. They put up their pictures online and let people they [do not] like look at them! And people they’ve never met as well, and they all pretend [to] be shinier than they are – and some are even posting on like four sites; their bosses are watching them at work, the cameras watch them on the bus, and on the train, and in Boots, and even outside the chip shop. Then even at home – they’re going online to look and see who they can watch, and to check who’s watching them!” — Jenni Fagan, “The Panopticon”


Five Functions of Journalism

A good journalist will collect facts, research and investigate the subject matter and based on a unique style, formulate language that tells a story. A story that will grab the reader to such an extent that both the unique style as well as the story are remembered and recommended. In this day and age, however, gone are the days where a paper landed on your doorstep bringing you the main source of news you looked forward to reading with your morning coffee.

What is Journalism?

I define journalism as language depicting news or presenting information through the media in one hand, or the study of such language in the other hand. Good journalism involves the style of presentation, the way language is painted across the page, or presented through any source on television or radio. A good journalist will collect facts, research and investigate the subject matter and based on a unique style, formulate language that tells a story. A story that will grab the reader to such an extent that both the unique style as well as the story are remembered and recommended.


Function No. 1 – Information

With the Internet, anyone can publish anything whether it’s self-publishing, posting videos or pictures, writing blogs, commenting on blogs written by others, or generating a website that allegedly has all the answers. Gone are the days where a paper landed on your doorstep bringing you the main source of news you looked forward to reading with your morning coffee. Gone are the days where people relied solely on local news channels for their daily reports because cable news running 24/7 became a major competitor.

With all the current methods of contributing to the supply of information whether it’s trendy or simply trying to meet public demand, we’re in a fast paced society and I always wonder if some stories used to be a bullet point list of facts tied to a good photo and there you go. All anyone has to do in today’s world is read the news on a favorite site and if it’s worth sharing, right-click, copy, and paste it in an e-mail, blog or social website. I also wonder if deep investigative reporting still pounds a good journalist’s heart.

Readers with a short attention span can capture a dozen images on the Internet and already know the story just by reading captions and not all these images necessarily depict high quality photojournalism. The point is, however, these readers don’t need to read the whole story.

Make an announcement on the Internet, and it spreads like wildfire and immediately becomes news. But, was it factual and was it verified? There doesn’t even have to be more than three paragraphs supporting the announcement. Does that mean an interested reader has a short attention span?

The Internet continues to effect print media. The really good journalists must feel challenged in today’s society with the subject matter they have to work with to produce an acceptable piece that will invite and interest their readers. I can imagine the pressure they are under just to deliver good news that is highly viable.


Function No. 2 – Increasing Public Awareness

A good journalist who is well-trained will gather up facts, information and research and write on subjects to increase awareness amongst readers of all demographics. A good journalist will develop personal style so it even becomes recognizable with a readership base.

What has been referred to as citizen journalism is a means where communication on a variety of subjects soars through social media.

According to, author, Robert W. McChesney, states in his book,The Problem of the Media, that

“Democratic theory posits that society needs journalism to perform three main duties; to act as a rigorous watchdog of the powerful and those who wish to be powerful; to ferret out truth from lies; and to present a wide range of informed positions on key issues.” McChesney also stated that “Each medium need not do all these things, but the media system as a whole should make this caliber of journalism readily available to the citizenry.”


Function No. 3 – Interpretating the Facts

People generally believe what’s in a newspaper because it’s printed language. It’s healthy to question what is read as information is gathered from different resources before establishing an opinion. A reporter tries to provide facts in such a manner so as to persuade the reader to interpret the information based on the way it’s being delivered. A good reporter needs to also be able to verify gathered facts.

An article run on in November 2010 entitled The End of ‘Objectivity’ written by James Poniewozik concluded with an appropriate closing:

“The days of pretending that journalists are dispassionate infobots are ending. And that’s good: trust built on openness is stronger than trust built on an agreed-upon fiction. We are seeing the death throes of the unsustainable concept of ‘objectivity.’ Long live the real thing.”


Function No. 4 – Encouraging Decisions, Influencing Change & Shaping Public Opinion

Whether it’s print media or an on-line source, buyers are influenced very much so by advertising, alone, e.g., hair styles, trendy seasonal wardrobes, and many, many other products such as pet food. People do believe what they see in print, so language is a good tool of persuasion, marketability or manipulation, whatever term you frequent the most.

Think about how the public mindset was transformed during and immediately after the September 11 attack by the mass media. This circumstance greatly influenced change for many people regardless how complacent many others have become. This circumstance also shaped a lot of opinions as a result and those opinions have evolved. The media journalistic reporting each anniversary is absolutely incredible, but they also have the time in between anniversaries to prepare.

With elections coming up and all the effects which are reported on routinely will very much so encourage the public who they might consider voting for by providing facts and drama. Watch the behavior of all the cable news network channels to gather your information, however, before deciding.

I realize not every person has cable news. Every time I watch local news, these channels help shape my opinion not to watch them anymore because it’s utterly poor reporting and depressing. It’s like they are reading headlines that almost always seems to involve a death. And, oftentimes, it doesn’t seem to be a high enough overview of what’s actually going on in the world. I promote cable news and reading everything on the Internet (a reputible site).


Function No. 5 – Entertainment Journalism

Two years ago, writer Rick Ellis had an article on entitled, “The Sad State of Entertainment Journalism,” with an opening paragraph that reads:

“When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually tell them I’m a journalist. I don’t describe myself as an entertainment journalist, even though that title covers the bulk of my output over the past decade. Calling yourself an entertainment journalist has roughly the same intellectual heft as describing yourself as the writer of a line of Angelina Jolie trivia books.”

When he discussed sensationalism of specific entertainment shows to increase ratings, it’s really the formula these programs follow in giving viewers what seems to appear what they want. Ellis’ argument was essentially that it’s not really great journalism.

Entertainment journalism, however, has been growing at a high speed, but I think that’s attributed to the fact we live in a pop culture society that is purely entertained by media coverage of favorite actors, singers, etc., which isn’t trying to go out on a limb to redefine news or good quality reporting. One anecdote would be if you want a really great hamburger, you grill it yourself and if you want something mediocre, there’s a drive-thru on every corner now. Perhaps the silver lining is the fact a reporter has the opportunity to meet a lot of celebrities.

“A Voice for the Dead” by James E. Starrs with Katherine Ramsland

My quick spin on this book was it provided a nice reading experience of a true performance of a forensic scientist and investigator as he sought the truth from the grave as demonstrated in this book.


Click here for image source.


James Starrs has led a remarkable journey throughout his life. He has been an educator in the fields of law and forensic science. He has used his thought provoking abilities to uncover and bring forward significant information based on his exhumations.

Through the use of advanced technology, which obviously includes DNA testing, Professor Starrs takes his readers into his world by providing a true accounting of his exhumation projects. As costly as these projects are, his analysis based on his forensic analysis with the help of his colleagues have provided an avenue of exploring historically documented “facts,” in such a manner that in searching for the truth, the reader won’t be able to put the book down.

The intrigue of the core subject of this book is spelled out, in part, with the dedication page which succinctly states, “To the ones whose voices have not yet been heard but deserve to be.”

Starrs image

Click here for image source.

Click here for more biographical information on Dr. Starrs.


One of Professor Starrs projects involved an incident that occurred over 100 years ago in Colorado relating to the fact that while Alfred Packer and five others endure a wintry expedition, only Packer survivevs. While cannibalism was said to have occurred by Packer’s recounting the experience of survival in the snowy mountains near Lake City, Colorado, it remains to be determined whether the act of cannibalism can be proven.

What Professor Starrs brings to the surface is curiosity and wonderment for the reader. He takes you through the whole journey from the beginning of crew or team gathering into what they find based on all their respective skills and expertise. This journalistic style continues throughout the book.

A Packer

Alfred Packer (Source: Wikipedia; public domain).


One of the most interesting cases in Professor Starrs’ book is about former CIA Agent, Frank Olson. I did recall watching a news documentary about this story prior to reading this book. Professor Starrs was clearly on a mission to determine whether Dr. Olson had committed suicide from a 13th floor of a hotel building, or if he was pushed out the window.

Dr. Olson’s oldest son never believed his father had committed suicide. Dr. Olson’s body was exhumed for the purpose of determining how his death occurred. I found this segment of the book involving the subject of a biological warfare programs surrounding the subject of LSD testing on individuals to be both intriguing and interesting. The nail biter is turning page after page with diligent reading to reach Professor Starrs’ conclusions.

As reported by the Associated Press in November 2012, two of Dr. Olson’s sons are suing the government for their father’s death. See this story here. The Olson sons have a site called the Frank Olson Project, a site in which you can read Chapter 3 of Professor Starrs’ book. This chapter and the family site are very compelling to study and research.

Click here for a profile of Dr. James Starrs.


Who Invented the Mugshot?

Meet the inventor of the mug shot: Frenchman, police officer and biometrics researcher who developed anthropometry which was beneficial to police officers in criminal identification.

One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind. Alphonse Bertillon (4.24.1853 to 2.13.1914).


Alphonse Bertillon was born in Paris, France. He had attempted a number of jobs before being called to serve with the French army at the age of 22. After serving in the army and not having a high level of education, his father and a medical professor Louis Bertillon, had influenced his hire into the Paris police. Bertillon’s brother, Jacques, also became successful including stepping into his father’s role after he died. Bertillon’s mother, Zoé, died very young at the age of 34 from the effects of a fever she was unable to break.

Some may have considered Bertillon to be a bit aloof since he wasn’t gifted with social skills. He was intelligent and he presented himself well. While working as a clerk for the Parisian police, it was Bertillon’s chief goal to help promote a system that could identify repeat offenders more expeditiously. Bertillon developed a method of identification which became known as Bertillonage and although repeat offenders could become identified, in time, this process was proven to be flawed when measurements were not taken accurately. For example, although consideration was given to a host of different measurements of any one particular individual in comparison to one element of measurement such as head size, imagine two people having the same measurement across their foreheads. Ultimately, this method would be replaced by a more effective measure known as fingerprinting. Noteworthy, Bertillon didn’t just rely on body measurements; he also used other physical characteristics such as scarring and personality factors.

Bertillon actually had developed a good idea to create a system that could identify someone who might be a repeat offender which, again, was a large part of his goal. It was found, though, that a person’s measurements could change just through the process of aging. Once fingerprinting came along, some of his fame was extinguished although he did incorporate the fingerprinting process into his method of identification. Fingerprinting, however, is quite unique per person.

In being a product of a prestigious family and the fact there were other physicians in his family, Bertillon was never considered to be another diamond. However, that being said, through the use of his experience with the police department, he became a criminologist and this would bring him fame in another type of laboratory.

Bertillon died at the age of 61 in Switzerland. Although his method soon faded after fingerprinting was adopted, he or his ego didn’t embrace the replacement identification method. Regardless, Bertillon is still viewed as the one who broke new ground into criminal identification.


The photo above depicts a classroom where the subject of Bertillon’s method of criminal identification is being taught. (Source: http://Wikipedia.)


The study of the characteristics and traits of a human being for identification purposes is the simple explanation of biometrics. There are different types of biometrics dependent upon the need. Obviously, with computer science, this method is an identifier of sorts that reaches into a database of information. Through Bertillon’s research, he developed anthropometry which is further described below.


The illustration above is from an article entitled, “The Speaking Portrait,” from “Pearson’s Magazine,” published in 1901, which depicts Bertillon’s principles of anthropometry. (Source: http://Wikipedia; this image is in the public domain because copyright has expired.)


Anthropometry is essentially a technique used that would measure a person, hence the study of body measurements. In the 1880s, Bertillon opined that every individual would have different measurable physical characteristics.

The measurements also included other elements such as eyes and ears. This information was stored on cards which also contained a photo of the offender and processed into a filing system. Because Bertillon was able to identify over 200 offenders in 1884, other countries adopted his method. When this method was used in the United States, the centralized filing system of Bertillon cards was housed in Chicago.


The image above was a self-portrait taken of Bertillon August 22, 1900. (Source: http://Wikipedia; this image is in the public domain because the copyright has expired.)


Bertillon also developed the standard of an offender’s mug shot and taking pictures of evidence prior to a crime scene being touched. Bertillon helped to shape other types of forensics practices, one of which could include examining whether a person’s signature on a document is forged or not essentially known as handwriting analysis today. He also contributed to the subject of preserving footprints.

Before Bertillon’s method of measurements was used, other than a system that wasn’t well organized, notes, photographs, or other less measures were used to try to identify or catch a criminal. Bertillon’s method was used for nearly three decades before fingerprinting came into use and at least his method was a form of advancement as well as an improved system. His development of the mug shot, however, is still deployed today.


The above image is an example of a Bertillon card identifier. (Source:  This image describes John Welshouse, a sailor, who was arrested at the age of 29 for violating the White Slavery Act in New Orleans, better known as prostitution. He received one year and one day for his sentence to have expired on January 22, 1915. Interestingly and unrelated to the main subject, Welshouse’s wife made inquiry of him to the prison’s warden, who wrote back indicating his sentence was reduced and he was provided transportation to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The image is an example of one of Bertillon’s “cards” which has all the indicators represented of measurements taken to secure Welshouse’s identity and obviously, the mug shot image is of great benefit.