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At the start of this century, Tim Hitchcock and Bob Shoemaker undertook the digitisation of the surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings, with the object to create a searchable resource in a form accessible to the public and free at the point of use. Last year, 2015, was the anniversary of the launch of the first database in 2005.
Towards the end of this fascinating study, Heather Shore reflects on the difficulty of ‘trying to uncover or reconstruct something that does not exist in a concrete form’ (p. 192). For Shore, the ‘underworld’ is a ‘cipher’, through which the press, the police, the government, and the wider society represents, and tries to understand, crime as a social problem.
Happiness is researching someone with a unique name. At least, that’s the case in the research environment created by the brilliant new resource, London Lives 1690–1800 – Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.
Interest in Jack the Ripper continues to be insatiable. New books, articles and webpages on the subject appear almost weekly - a Google search on 'Jack the Ripper' yields nearly 197,000 online references with varying degrees of accuracy and seriousness, the front-runner being www.casebook.org.