Items from the Edwin H. Fearon Collection

Pontone Painting

In 2016, the Weinberg Memorial Library acquired a small collection of materials owned by penman Edwin H. Fearon that complements the Zaner-Bloser Penmanship Collection. Born in Whitfield, New Hampshire, in 1877, E. H. Fearon was one of the foremost handwriting and document experts of his era. For thirteen years, Fearon was the forgery expert with the Allegheny County Crime Laboratory, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and 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.

This collection was generously donated to Special Collections by Fearon's grandson, Richard Jaffe, and his wife, Velynda. A selection of items from the collection is currently on view in the Reading Room, including Fearon's class portrait and diploma from the Zanerian College of Art, as well as an assortment of original pen art and penmanship specimens.