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(THAW, HARRY K.) Archive detailing psychological evaluation of Harry K. Thaw (convicted of murder in “the Trial of the Century”).
File of original documents collected by Dr. Clarence Farrar during a period of psychological evaluation of Thaw in the spring of 1914. The collection thoroughly documents the entire process of evaluation (done on behalf of the Trustee of Thaw's estate to determine his sanity and eligibility for access to finances), from a letter seeking Farrar's help, to transcripts, notes, findings, and even settling Farrar's compensation. Over the course of a few days in May, Farrar, Dr. W. K. Walker, and Dr. Cornelius C. Wholey met with Thaw at the Eagle Hotel in Concord N.H. where they did a thorough examination of Thaw. Thaw proved a difficult subject and was clearly agitated by the process; in the end, he was deemed “recognisably unsound mentally.” Archive includes: a binder with 109 typed pages titled “Thaw Case Record Extracts of Testimony” which features testimony from multiple doctors, witnesses and Thaw himself; Farrar's external research and references, including two journal articles on sex crimes and “perversions” and copies of documents from other relevant court cases; 66-page typed transcript “Interrogatory of Mr. H. K. Thaw by Dr. Walker, Dr. Wholey and Dr. Farrar, May 18, 1914, At Eagle Hotel, Concord, N. H.” (in fact, covers multiple days of interview); 29 handwritten pages of Farrar's notes from the interview and two typed pages summarizing notes; Aids such as blank Binet test, “Symptom Groupe” list; 19 handwritten pages with the heading “Preliminary Report by Examination of Harry K. Thaw”; Copy of the final report titled “Preliminary Examination of Harry K. Thaw”; approximately a dozen clippings and pieces of ephemera related to the Thaw case; six letters and one telegram from Walker and two letters from Wholey to Farrar; three letters from the lawyers of the Trustee; souvenir postcards and hotel invoice from Farrar's visit to Concord. An excellent archive (items in very good to fine condition) illustrating, in detail, the planning and execution of both the clinical and administrative aspects of the psychological evaluation of one of the 20th century's most notorious murderers.
Harry K. Thaw (1871-1947) was the millionaire at the centre of “the Trial of Century”. Thaw's murder of prominent architect Stanford White over Thaw's wife, actress Evelyn Nesbit, was one of the biggest news stories of the day; it captivated the public and was immortalized in the movie The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing and the novel Ragtime. Dr. Clarence B. Farrar (1874-1970) “trained under several of the foremost medical scholars of his era beginning with Osler and then at Heidelberg under Kraepelin, Nissl and Alzheimer. Farrar was hand-picked by Prof. Charles Clarke, the University's inaugural head of Psychiatry, to succeed him in both that chair and as the first Director of the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital (TPH) opening in 1925. Farrar served in those capacities until 1947, setting the stage of the TPH to continue as the Department's clinical, teaching, research and administrative nexus until succeeded in 1966 by the Clarke Institute.” (TPH: History and Memories of Toronto Psychiatric Hospital by Edward Shorter).