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
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
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.
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 script. 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 revisions. 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 covers. 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- 1944 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 occurred. 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, 1919-1967 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.
Last modified: 01/19/11