Edwin H. Fearon Penmanship Collection

Collection Guide


Scrapbooks, writing manuals, penmanship specimens, correspondence, flourishings, and penmanship tools owned by Edwin H. Fearon, penman and document examiner for the Allegheny County Crime Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Private Collection
Edwin H. Fearon
Date Range
2 boxes and 1 folder with oversized items

Access and Use

Digital Access

No digital access is currently available for materials in this collection.

Physical Access

The collection is open for research. Physical materials may be browsed by appointment in the Reading Room of the University Archives and McHugh Special Collections.


Items in the University of Scranton Archives and Helen Gallagher McHugh Special Collections may be made available to visiting researchers to support research, scholarship, education, and private study under an assertion of fair use (17 U.S.C. 107). The University of Scranton respects the intellectual property rights of others and does not claim any copyright interest in these materials. It is your responsibility to determine the ownership and status of copyright in any materials you may wish to use beyond fair use, and obtain the permission of the copyright owner, if needed. Individuals or organizations holding additional information about the copyright status of items in this collection are invited to contact the University Archives staff at archives@scranton.edu.

Preferred Citation

[Item Title], [Folder], [Box], Edwin H. Fearon Penmanship Collection, McHugh Special Collections, The University of Scranton.

Linked Data




Administrative/Biographical History

Born in Whitfield, New Hampshire, in 1877, Edwin H. Fearon was one of the foremost handwriting and document examiners of his era. For thirteen years, Fearon was the forgery expert at the Allegheny County Crime Laboratory, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Gonzaga College in Spokane, Washington, before attending law school at Kentucky State Normal Law School. Following his law career, he studied penmanship at the Zanerian School of Art in Columbus, Ohio. After graduating in 1901, Fearon returned to Spokane to teach business law and handwriting courses. In 1912, he moved to Pittsburgh to teach bookkeeping at Peabody High School and later wrote a bookkeeping textbook for the Gregg Publishing Co. In 1942, Fearon was a founding member of The American Society of Questioned Document Examiners. In his career as a document examiner, Fearon is best known for playing a prominent role in the Alger Hiss spy trial and the income tax conviction of Al Capone. In the Lindbergh kidnapping trial, Fearon analyzed the handwriting in the ransom notes and his testimony contributed to the subsequent conviction of Bruno Richard Hauptmann.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains two boxes of material and one folder of oversized items. The collection includes photographs, original pen art, and Fearon's diploma from the Zanerian College of Art, as well as various examples of penmanship, including correspondence, flourishings, and scrapbooks.


Books and Manuals

The collection includes a set of primarily American handwriting instruction books from the 19th and 20th centuries. Some of these materials have been cataloged in the Weinberg Memorial Library system. None of the collection volumes have yet been digitized, but the publications may be available in digital format from other sources, such as IAMPETH.

Selected books from the collection:

Scrapbooks and Photographs

The collection also includes seven scrapbooks containing examples of penmanship, journal clippings, assorted ephemera, and correspondence collected by Fearon. Photographs in the collection depict Fearon's 1902 summer session class from the Zanerian College of Art and a group portrait of master penman (undated). None of these materials have been digitized.

Ephemera and Artifacts

Among the ephemera and artifacts in collection are Fearon's diploma from the Zanerian College of Art, Speedball lettering posters, pens, pen nibs, and a Leroy Lettering Set owned by Fearon.

Penmanship Samples

The collection includes a small selection of Fearon's original artwork, including flourishings, alphabets, and a large pen drawing depicting a lion in a landscape.

Acquisition Information

Donated to the Weinberg Memorial Library in 2016 by E. H. Fearon's grandson, Richard Jaffe, and his wife, Velynda.

Processing Notes

This collection was processed in 2016.