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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Read This First! » Before You Post, Do Some Research « Previous Next »

As stated in the Guidelines to Posting, most of our threads and posts are archived. When new posters continually repeat old information or ask the same questions, it can become tiresome and the boards become cumbersome. The Viper, one of our posters who has been a great help to the Casebook, posted the following and it has been reproduced here.

DATE:- 10th December 2001.
TITLE:- Online Research: Making Best Use of the Casebook.

On my now irregular visits here to the boards it has become very noticeable that a lot of contributors are throwing out an enormous number of questions in their postes. To some degree this is to be expected, especially with so many newcomers to the Casebook who are being drawn in by the subject’s current high media profile, resulting from the From Hell film and the Patricia Cornwell programme. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions – many of us have learned a great deal from doing so. In fact, for somebody just becoming interested in the subject matter it’s essential to query things.

However, it is routinely possible to read entries from the regular visitors here which, though only perhaps two hundred words long, contain four or five question marks – and that’s an issue that needs to be addressed. Simply to tackle a topic by asking a stream of questions, the majority of which are just going to be left hanging in the air, is unhelpful. It is pointless to the writer, frustrating to the reader and probably baffling to a new visitor. The waters relating to the Ripper are murky enough without flinging more mud in. What is needed are one or two relevant and well-targeted questions which elicit some answers, and I’d appeal to people to consider this when they poste. When specific questions have been answered satisfactorily, assuming they can be (some cannot), we can move onto something else. Part of the Q&A process involves gathering information and the rest requires interpretive skills, i.e. making best use of it.

So many of the queries that arise here on the message boards could be answered by making full use of the online facilities that are now available. And often as not the place to start is with is the main Casebook site. It is quite obvious that a goodly number of people aren’t doing this.

For instance, did you know that the Casebook currently has about 450 online Press Reports? Originating from newspapers like The Times and the East End weeklies, some of these are the core texts from which many Ripper books draw their material, even to this day. In fact, before the Home Office allowed researchers routine access to the official papers in the ‘70s, some books were sourced almost entirely from them. There is a search facility exclusive to the Press Reports section here; Press Search, to help you find your material rapidly.

The main Casebook site also contains a variety of original source material in its ‘Official Documents’ section. There are some fascinating descriptions of old East London, as well as photographs old and new to give you a flavour of it under ‘Victorian London’. Additionally, you will find sections on the Casebook covering such subjects as Victims, Suspects, Policemen and Witnesses with handy potted biographies, the only drawback for the researcher here being the lack of sourcing notes.

To search for information anywhere on the site (except these boards which have their own search facility), use the Search Panel, available on the left-hand side of the main Casebook menu.

At times you will not find what you need at the Casebook, or more/confirmatory information will be required. In these circumstances there are other good places to go. Few sites are better to bookmark than these two:-

For East End history and social conditions try the THHOL website. The abbreviation stands for Tower Hamlets History OnLine. It’s a private website run by a meticulous local historian who works in the area. Some of the articles appearing under ‘Victorian London’ (see above) have been reproduced at the Casebook with his permission, but there is a good deal of additional material there besides.

For specific Jack The Ripper information the Casebook Productions website is an absolute must. It’s the home of the organisation that publishes Ripper Notes magazine and which will be running the U.S. Conference in April 2002. You can find out more about both these subjects there, but CP really comes into its own as a research tool, under its ‘Explore JTR’ section. All the information is sourced – so you can see at a glance where it came from. Much of it has been derived from primary sources. Perhaps most useful are the inquest transcripts; victim time lines; animations and maps. I’ve noticed a fair number of geographical-type questions on the boards lately. Quite often a visit to CP’s maps section will give you all you need.

Finally, for more information on how to get the most out of the Casebook message boards, and on how to use them correctly, please go to the Read This First section. Click on ‘Topics’ at the top of the panel currently on the left of your screen to see it.

Regards, V.

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