University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Ralph D. Gardner

1919 - 1967

(bulk dates 1925 - 1944)

Manuscript Collection Number: 406
Accessioned: Purchase, March 2000
Extent: 1 linear ft.
Content: Case reports, plays, stories, correspondence, photographs, speech, magazines, and clippings
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: April 2001 by Anita A. Wellner

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Introductory Note

The Ralph D. Gardner Papers is a collection of plays, stories, and case reports written by Pennsylvania State Police officer Ralph D. Gardner. Spanning the dates 1919 to 1967, with the bulk of the collection dated between 1925 and 1944, the papers consist of one linear foot of carbon copies of case reports, correspondence, clippings, a speech, magazines, two photographs, as well as typescript and handwritten manuscripts for plays and stories.

According to the dates on the reports available in this collection, Ralph D. Gardner was employed by the Pennsylvania State Police from at least 1925 until 1944. He rose in rank from Private in the 1920s and early 1930s to Lieutenant by the 1940s. In the early 1920s he was assigned to Troop “C” and stationed at Reading, Pennsylvania. By 1929 he had been assigned to the Bureau of Fire Protection and stationed at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Although Gardner investigated a variety of crimes, including larceny, gaming devices, robbery, assault, liquor violations, and missing persons, he specialized in the investigation of suspicious fires. Most of his reports, with occasional notes, clippings, or correspondence regarding court appearances related to a case, document cases of suspected arson.

In his job with the Bureau of Fire Protection, Gardner was also responsible for the inspection of facilities and equipment which stored or dispensed flammable material, such as gasoline stations, as well as inspection of buildings for fire code violations. After investigating a 1929 fire which occurred in the Pennsylvania State capital building, Gardner’s report outlined fire prevention upgrades needed in that building.

Gardner was assigned to investigate possible arson cases or perform inspections in counties throughout Pennsylvania. Consequently, he organized his case files by the county in which the investigation occurred. These files comprise the second series of the collection.

The first series of the collection includes plays, stories, and a speech written by Gardner. With the exception of the untitled speech, which is a work-related presentation to a group of petroleum industry workers, the material in this series appears to represent Gardner’s avocation as a writer. Five of the six plays were written for radio broadcast and feature a fictional character, Pennsylvania State Police Sergeant Kirkwood. These plays may have been based on cases with which Gardner was familiar, but no direct link to the case files in this collection is evident. A sixth play, “Silent Justice,” is described on its cover-page as “a comedy in three acts.” The three stories in the collection are based on true events, all of which involved the Pennsylvania State Police. In the “Hamburg’s Gangland Murder,” Ralph Gardner is one of several investigating officers.

The final series consists of four printed items which belonged to Gardner. The copy of Writer’s Yearbook (1960) suggests his interest in writing, while the issues of Life (1965 Nov 5) and The Saturday Evening Post (1967 Jan 14) contain coverage of the continued investigation of President Kennedy’s assassination.


Biographical information is derived from the collection.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

          Series I.  Plays, stories and a speech written by Ralph
          D. Gardner, [n.d.]

          Series I.1.  Plays, [n.d.]
          The material is arranged alphabetically by title.
     “The Corpse Murder,” [n.d.]
F1   Typescript (carbon) playscript with a few autograph
     corrections and actors.
F2   Typescript playscript with added pages, notes for the
     announcer, and autograph revisions.
F3   Four copies of a typescript (carbon) text for the announcer
     of this radio play.  Includes some autograph notes on one
F4   Typescript (carbon) playscript.
F5   Typescript (carbon) playscript.
F6   Typescript (carbon) playscript.

     “The Death of Drehr,” [n.d.]
F7   Autograph script. 79 pp.
F8   Typescript with author’s name and address in ink on the
     first page.

     “The Dream Murder,” [n.d.]
F9   Typescript bearing autograph revisions and deletions.
F10  Typescript (carbon) copy marked “2nd copy.”
F11  Typescript (carbon) copy marked “3rd copy.”
F12  Typescript (carbon) copy marked “4th copy.”
F13  Typescript version which incorporates the revisions made on
     the draft found in F9.
F14  Typescript (carbon) copy of the revised version.

     “The Higgins Murder Case,” [n.d.]
F15  Autograph script with a typescript (carbon) page with the
     announcer’s prelude.
F16  Typescript and typescript (carbon) draft bearing autograph
F17  Typescript draft which incorporates the revisions marked on
     the draft found in F16.
F18  Typescript (carbon) draft.
F19  Typescript (carbon) draft, without announcer’s remarks.
F20  Typescript (carbon) draft, without announcer’s remarks.
F21  Typescript(carbon) draft, bearing some autograph revisions.

     “The Pyromaniac,” [n.d.]
F22  Typescript draft with a few autograph revisions and two
     typescript (carbon) pages of announcer’s text.  The Title
     and a list of actors for the characters is handwritten on
     the first page.
F23  Typescript draft with actors names added.
F24  Typescript (carbon) draft.
F25  Typescript (carbon) draft.
F26  Typescript (carbon) draft.
F27  Typescript draft, different version (dialogue the same but a
     different typing format).
F28  Typescript (carbon) draft of F27 version.
F29  Typescript (carbon) draft of F27 version.
F30  Typescript (carbon) draft of F27 version.

     “Silent Justice,” [n.d.]
     Three act comedy.  Handwritten playscript with decorated
F31  First Act, “1800 words.”
F32  Second Act, “2350 word.”
F33  Third Act.

     Series I.2.  Stories, 1928 and [n.d.]
     Three stories based on true events which may have been
     written for a radio program.

F34  “Get That Man!” [n.d.]
F35  Hamburg’s Gangland Murder,” 1928 May 12
     Includes Trooper Gardner, who worked on this Berks county
     murder case.
F36  “The Haunted Mansion,” [n.d.]

     Series I.3.  Speech, [n.d.]
F37  Untitled speech to a group of petroleum industry workers
     (gas station owners, attendants) regarding the Bureau of
     Fire Protection’s enforcement of “rules and regulations
     governing inflammable liquids,” [n.d.]

     Series II.  Copies of reports completed by Gardner, 1925-
     Reports, investigation notes, and other material related to
     cases investigated by Ralph D. Gardner as a member of the
     Pennsylvania State Police.  Also includes reports of
     inspections made by Gardner on behalf of the Fire Protection
     Bureau of the PSA and some correspondence regarding court
     appearances.  Arranged in alphabetical order by name of the
     Pennsylvania county in which the investigation or inspection

F38  Adams, 1929-1931
F39  Berks, 1927-1942
F40  Blair, 1936

     Bucks, 1925-1943
F41  1925
F42  1926
F43  1927
F44  1928-1932
F45  1942-1943

F46  Centre, 1926-1932
F47  Chester, 1926-1932
F48  Cumberland, 1928-1932

     Dauphin, 1929-1943
F49  1929-1930
F50  1931-1943

F51  Delaware, 1926-1942
F52  Lackawanna, 1942
F53  Lancaster, 1926-1928
F54  Lebanon, 1926-1933
F55  Lehigh, 1925-1929
F56  Luzerne, 1929-1930
F57  Lycoming, 1928-1940
F58  Montgomery, 1925-1942
F59  Northampton, 1926-1929
F60  Northumberland, 1928
F61  Perry, 1930-1932
F62  Schuylkill, 1926-1927
F63  York, 1928-1944

     Series III.  Printed material belonging to Ralph Gardner,

F64  Suggestions for the Chalk-Talker, 1919
F65  Writer’s Yearbook, 1960
F66  Life, 1965 Nov 5
     Removed to oversize.
F67  The Saturday Evening Post, 1967 Jan 14
     Removed to oversize.

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