• Identification17/28
  • Title
    • Guide to the Fred E. Inbau (1909-1998) Papers
    • Inbau, Fred E. (1909-1998) Papers
  • LanguageEnglish
  • Date
    • 1930-1998
    • 1970-1995
  • OriginationInbau, Fred Edward
  • Physical Description21.00
  • RepositoryNorthwestern University Archives Deering Library, Room 110 1970 Campus Dr. Evanston, IL, 60208-2300 URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives Email: archives@northwestern.edu Phone: 847-491-3354
  • AbstractThe Fred E. Inbau Papers, spanning the years 1930 to 1998, document his work with the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, as a professor at NU's Law School, an opponent of the Miranda Act, and as a prolific writer and speaker.

Fred Edward Inbau was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 27, 1909. He came to Northwestern as a research assistant in the Scientific Crime Detection Lab in 1933, becoming the director of the Lab in 1938. Inbau left NU briefly, but returned as a law professor in 1945 and remained until his retirement in 1977. In 1966 he founded Americans for Effective Law Enforcement. Inbau was a prolific writer, publishing more than 50 journal articles and 18 books.

Inbau attended Tulane University, receiving his B.S. in 1930 and his LL.B. in 1932, and served as the editor-in-chief of the Tulane Law Review. Inbau continued his education at Northwestern University School of Law, receiving his LL.M. in 1933 and beginning a career-long association with the School of Law. Inbau spent thirty-seven of the next forty-four years of his life at Northwestern University.

Inbau's first position at Northwestern, in 1933, was as a research assistant in the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (SCDL), one of the country's first crime laboratories. In 1929, when firearms expert Col. Calvin Goddard was called in to help the Chicago Police Department identify the bullets used in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, NU Law School dean emeritus John Henry Wigmore suggested that a permanent laboratory be established to examine and preserve criminal evidence. In 1931 the SCDL became a department of the School of Law, offering practical experience in identifying firearms, finger-prints, and explosives; detecting forgeries; conducting polygraph tests; and preserving evidence through photography, chemical analysis and other techniques. Inbau held a joint appointment, working for the SCDL and teaching in the School of Law, until 1938, when he was named Director of the SCDL. In that year, Northwestern sold the Laboratory to the Chicago Police Department; Inbau stayed on as Director until 1941. (The Crime Detection Lab continued to function as part of the CPD until 1996.)

After leaving the SCDL, Inbau served in private practice as a trial attorney with Lord, Bissell and Kadyk until 1945. He returned to Northwestern University in 1945 as a professor of law. During his early years at Northwestern, Inbau had established the Annual Short Course for Prosecuting Attorneys, the oldest continuing legal education course in the country, which offered its first session in 1936. In 1958, he initiated the Short Course for Defense Layers in Criminal Cases. He was named John Henry Wigmore Professor of Law in 1974.

Many of Inbau's students went on to prominent careers in law and politics, including noted prosecutor and Illinois governor James R. Thompson (with whom Inbau co-authored the casebook Criminal Law and its Administration). The June, 1977, issue of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology commemorated Inbau's retirement with a series of articles by former students and faculty colleagues, including a contribution by Yale Kamisar of the University of Michigan Law School, who had long enjoyed a friendly disagreement with Inbau over Miranda v. Arizona (384 US 436, 1966).

Like his mentor, John H. Wigmore, Inbau was most concerned with evidence, and focused his research and writing on gathering and analyzing evidence scientifically. Inbau's description of the work of the SCDL reflects his own views on the use of scientific methods: “every step in the promotion of scientific crime detection is a step towards the abolition of cruel and ineffective methods of establishing criminal identity, and also a step towards the realization of criminal trial unhampered by technical procedure and unreliable evidence” (Fred E. Inbau, “Science versus the Criminal,” NU Alumni News [January, 1935]: 25). In his quest to obtain accurate evidence and un-coerced confessions, he was an early proponent of the use of the polygraph, and, later in his life, a vehement opponent of Miranda. His opposition to Miranda, expressed in magazine articles, debates, and speeches, was based on his belief that the decision reduced a policeman's chances of obtaining a confession at the scene of the crime. In 1966, Inbau founded the Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE) to file amicus curiae briefs in cases involving restrictions on such police actions as search and seizure and, in particular, cases hinging on the application of Miranda. Like much of Inbau's work after 1966, the AELE was intended to counteract Miranda and, it was hoped, lead to its repeal.

Among many other positions, Inbau served as an officer and director of the Chicago Crime Commission and president of the Illinois Academy of Criminology (1951-52) and of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (1955-56). He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 1965-1971, and of the Journal of Police Science and Administration, 1973-1978. In addition to the AELE, Inbau also founded the Business Integrity Institute (BII), which was formed in 1989 to lobby against laws restricting employers' ability to hire and fire at will.

Inbau's extensive publications include over fifty journal articles and eighteen books (some as co-author, and many of which went into multiple editions) in the fields of criminal law and scientific investigation in criminal cases. His first published book, Lie Detection and Criminal Interrogation (1942), was updated twice. He co-authored many casebooks and initiated the “Inbau Law Enforcement Series.” Criminal Interrogations and Confessions (first edition 1966, 3rd edition 1986) was translated into Chinese and Japanese. Inbau also had a long association with polygraph expert John E. Reid (1910-1982), whom he met when Reid joined the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory in 1940. Reid formed his own detective agency, John E. Reid and Associates, in 1947. He and Inbau collaborated on a number of books, including Truth and Deception: The Polygraph Technique (1966; 2nd edition, 1977).

After retirement, Inbau continued his research and writing until his death on May 25, 1998. Inbau married Ruth L. Major in 1935; they had two children, W. Robert and Louise. The Inbaus were divorced in 1963. In 1964, Inbau married Jane Hanchett Schoenewald, who died in 1991.

  • Names
    • Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). School of Law--Faculty
    • Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory (Chicago, Ill.)
    • Inbau, Fred Edward
  • Subject
    • Criminal investigation--United States
    • Law--Study and teaching--Illinois
    • Right to counsel--United States

The Fred Inbau Papers were donated to the University Archives on August 10, 1998, as Accession Number 98-152. Materials from the University Archives' biographical files were incorporated into the Papers.

Janet C. Olson, July 2002

John H. Wigmore Papers (Series 17/20), Leon Green Papers (Series 17/29), Short Courses for Prosecuting Attorneys, 1936-80 (Series 17/7), Short Courses for Defense Lawyers, 1958-79 (Series 17/8), Scientific Crime Detection Lab (General Files: School of Law)—all in the Northwestern University Archives.

The Fred E. Inbau Papers fill twenty-one boxes and span the years 1930 to 1998, with the bulk of the papers dating between the 1970s and the mid-1990s. To a large extent, the papers are organized according to Inbau's original order—foldered by theme or correspondent. They are grouped into the following subseries: Biographical Materials, Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, Correspondence, Teaching Materials, Organizations, Inbau and Miranda, Lectures/Speeches/Conferences, Articles/Reprints, Publications, and Research Assistants.

Biographical materials include curriculum vitae, biographical sketches, and obituaries; awards and honors; and press releases and clippings. One folder contains autographed title pages from article reprints sent to him by colleagues. All materials are arranged in chronological order within the respective folders. The newspaper clippings have been divided into those focusing specifically on Inbau, and those in which he is quoted as an expert on such topics as scientific crime investigation or Miranda.

Inbau's involvement in the Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory is reflected in folders containing general historical information about the facility, newspaper clippings, and a copy of the Outline of Scientific Criminal Investigation (1936) to which he contributed. On a more personal level, there are materials relating to the Tallmadge Murder Case (1936), in which Inbau was involved as an investigator; a transcript of the Bancroft Library's 1976 interview with Inbau about the SCDL; and correspondence between Inbau and original members of the SCDL (1981-1996). Also of interest is Inbau's report and correspondence regarding efforts to get back items that were taken from the Lab during its transfer from the Law School to the Chicago Police Department.

Inbau's correspondence files are arranged alphabetically by the surname of the correspondent, by topical heading or by organizational name; materials within folders are arranged chronologically. These files demonstrate the wide ranges of Inbau's circle of correspondents and interests. Since Inbau was scrupulous about keeping carbons or photocopies of his outgoing correspondence, both sides of most exchanges are represented in the files, along with relevant articles and case citations, newspaper clippings, and Inbau's notes. Correspondents include his former students, co-authors, colleagues and combatants. Inbau also served as a consultant in a number of cases involving Miranda or the acceptability of scientific evidence (handwriting, polygraph, etc.); the correspondence, reports, notes and other materials relating to those cases are filed by case name.

Of particular note among the correspondence files are those entitled “Far East Friends” and “Japanese Correspondents,” which contain correspondence with Japanese, Chinese, Thai and other colleagues involved either in translating Inbau's books or in studying his methods. That these relationships often developed into friendships is evidenced by the greeting cards and personal letters exchanged between Inbau and these students and colleagues. “Judges and Justices” with whom Inbau corresponded between 1982 and 1996 included David Souter, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and John Paul Stevens. Additional correspondence with these and other judges can be found in the “Recommendations” files and scattered within the files on Miranda and specific cases. Photocopies of two lengthy letters (1929 and 1935) to Inbau from ill-fated aviator Fred Noonan (whom Inbau considered “a good friend”) are accompanied by two unidentified printed poems. Inbau's long-time interest in the Lindbergh kidnapping case (especially the examination of Bruno Hauptmann) is reflected in a folder of correspondence, notes, and clippings dating between 1937 and 1996.

Inbau's teaching materials include lecture notes or exam questions from courses he taught between 1961 and 1979, plus a lecture from 1990. The files are organized alphabetically by course title. His lecture notes provide a revealing glimpse into his teaching, speaking, and writing style: they consist of magazine anecdotes, clippings from newspapers and law journals, and citations from court cases, all pasted onto pieces of paper interspersed with scribbled notes and quotations (see, for example, “Criminal Law: Defense/Ethics Notes, 1961-66”). Also included in the teaching materials are a student paper that Inbau particularly valued and a handful of brochures from Short Courses [Note: most Short Course materials have been processed separately; see Series 17/7 (Short Courses for Prosecuting Attorneys, 1936-80) and Series 17/8 (Short Courses for Defense Lawyers, 1958-79).]

While Inbau's involvement in such organizations as the Chicago Crime Commission can be documented in one or two folders (organized alphabetically by group name), there are extensive records of the Americans for Effective Law Enforcement (AELE). AELE files include organizational materials (annual reports, promotional brochures, position papers, publications, and correspondence), as well as amicus curiae briefs filed between 1967 and 1997. The briefs are organized by court (district, state, and federal) and then sequentially by case number and date.

Because Inbau felt so strongly about the issue, materials relating specifically to Inbau and Miranda have been grouped together, although his reactions and writings on this topic can also be found in many other locations in the series. Most of this sub-series consists of materials Inbau collected—notes, briefs, articles from newspapers and journals—about Miranda, dating between 1979 and 1998. Materials are arranged chronologically when dates exist, with the many undated items placed in separate folders. Also included in this sub-series are clippings and correspondence in response to Inbau's most significant articles about Miranda, “Over-reaction—The Mischief of Miranda” (1982) and “Miranda—Is It Worth the Cost?” (1988). One folder contains correspondence with Paul Cassell of the University of Utah College of Law, who sent Inbau an article on the social costs of Miranda. Cassell participated, with Inbau, in the 1996 “Dump Miranda?” debate at Northwestern University School of Law. Materials relating to this debate are also included in this sub-series.

Inbau regularly spoke at conferences and before professional groups of lawyers and law-enforcement personnel in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. As in other areas of his life, he kept careful records of correspondence, travel details, and fee payments for these appearances. His lectures, speeches and conference participation files comprise three rough categories of materials: General files, individual files, and speech notes. One general speech folder contains printed or typed copies of speeches delivered between 1945 and 1968, arranged chronologically. Three general folders contain correspondence, notes, and programs relating to Inbau's speaking engagements between 1973 and 1993. Individual folders house bulky “Proceedings” or the records of individual speeches or conference participation that generated a good deal of related correspondence. These folders are arranged chronologically, based on the span dates of the correspondence surrounding the presentation date itself. Folders show the title of the speech and/or the organization to which it was presented. Speech notes, consisting of anecdotes, clippings, quotations and scribbled notations, give a sense of Inbau's semi-extemporaneous speaking manner.

Inbau wrote for a wide range of publications, from the Northwestern Law Review to trade journals for police officers and retail security managers. Reprints and original print copies of Inbau's articles date between 1936 and 1994 and are arranged chronologically by publication date. Articles include two of Inbau's most controversial pieces, “Over-reaction—The Mischief of Miranda” (1982) and “Miranda—Is It Worth the Cost?” (1988)—also referred to as “The Cost of Miranda.” The response to these articles is found in the sub-series on Inbau and Miranda (Box 10). Unpublished articles and stories (including a children's book and a synopsis of a proposed novel to be co-written with Inbau's son) are placed in folders following the chronological sequence of published articles.

Correspondence, contracts, royalty statements, promotional materials and reviews make up the extensive publications files. Materials are organized by publisher, in alphabetical order from Butterworth Press to Williams & Wilkins. For publishers for whom Inbau produced several books, such as Chilton and Williams & Wilkins, materials are further organized by book title and arranged chronologically by publication date. Correspondence includes that with editors of the books, as well as letters to and from Inbau's co-authors, such as James Thompson and Andre Moenssens. Some reviews of individual books have been included in these publishing files; in addition, a separate folder contains chronologically-arranged book reviews.

Photographs used in Inbau's books—particularly Scientific Evidence in Criminal Cases—include negatives and black-and-white prints, some glued to cardboard and captioned, some uncaptioned. Most of these images were used in the section on Firearms Identification; these include powder-burn or bullet-circumference graphs, while some depict actual gunshot wounds in cadavers.

A leatherette case holds black-and-white 3”x4” slides that were probably used in Inbau's Law School classes, illustrating firearms identification, polygraph, questioned documents, and other material covered in the course.

Addition, Box 21

A copy of Inbau’s annotated revision of his casebook, Cases on Scientific Evidence, has been added to the series at Box 21, Folder 1.