PDF Finding Aid

Using These Materials


Access to this record group is unrestricted.


Navigate the Collection


The collection of papers is about drugs and drug related crimes in the United States. It is written by Carleton P. Simon. Simon is a psychiatrist by profession and is very much interested in crimes. This passion led to his next profession as a criminlogist. His writings focus on crimes and examine the motives behind the crimes. Simons has also written fiction magazines and poems.
2.0 cubic ft.
English .
Preferred citation:

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Carleton P. Simon Papers, 1881-1952, 1956. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Simon Papers).


Scope and Content:

The bulk of this collection consists of the writings of Carleton Simon, mostly on crime, but also included are a couple of stories published under a pseudonym in a detective fiction magazine and a few poems. The pamphlets and other published writings, together with the unpublished writings, give fairly complete view of Simon's ideas on crime and criminology. Although Simon was particularly interested in crimes related to narcotics, his pamphlets and speeches show an interest in a wide range of crimes and in examining the causes of crime and how those might be eliminated. Some of his pamphlets are missing from this collection, notably one written about his examination of Leon Czolgosz. In addition, there is no documentation in the collection of his research of the water cure at the request of the New York Herald.

Many of his unpublished writings are speeches to law enforcement groups and a few of these pieces are drafts of published essays. Besides these, there are a few books that Simon had worked on. One, "Spotting the Junkies", seems to be nearly finished, but it was never published. The book is a description of the lives of drug addicts, and it includes many illustrations, mostly of drug paraphernalia. There is also a folder titled "Criminal Word Book" which apparently was intended to be a glossary of criminals' slang. This work appears to be an early draft and consists of little more than illustrations many of which seem to have been borrowed from the manuscript for "Spotting the Junkies". A third unpublished work consists of two draft chapters describing the lives of individual addicts.

The correspondence and newspaper clippings contain articles about Simon's work and a few letters, notably his correspondence with Sir Percy Sillitoe, a Scottish law enforcement officer. Also included are subject files on specific projects of Simon's: his psychiatric clinic in the Bowery Mission, his part in proving the sanity of a Swedish immigrant, May Johnson, and his interest in his friend George Francis Train.

The series on the Hay's Code contains reports by Simon on the suitability of certain movies and scripts. It shows the morals of the time and how the movie industry attempted to protect itself from public censure by developing a commission that would devise and regulate a production code A the entire movie industry. Simon appears to have been chosen to report on films that use crime as a central element in the plot because of his renown as a criminologist. Simon's role was to determine if any of the films glorified crime or the actions of criminals.

The biographical files contain distilled information about Simon's accomplishments which are augmented by the published news stories about his work as a criminologist.

Biographical / Historical:

Carleton Simon was born on the 28th of February 1871 in New York City and attended college in Vienna and Paris, graduating with an M.D. in 1890. In 1893, he married Monetta Worthington Marler. The couple had two children, Rosa and Carleton, Jr.

A psychiatrist by profession, Simon became interested in the criminal mind, and that interest eventually led to his career as a criminologist. In 1901, Simon conducted a psychiatric study of Leon Czolgosz, the assassin of President McKinley. Also in 1901, he studied the water cure, a torture used by the U.S. Army to interrogate Philippine prisoners, at the request of the New York Herald. His findings led to the abolition of this form of questioning.

Phrenology was an early interest of Simon's. In 1904, George Francis Train, an American eccentric who financed the Union Pacific Railway, built the first tramway in England and ran the first clipper ships to Australia, left his brain to Simon, who dissected it and made a report to the American Institute of Phrenology. Carleton Simon also believed that the face was an indicator of personality and that a criminal's face was therefore a mirror into his actions; Some facial characteristics Simon believed were congenital, but most he thought were caused by the etching of experience on the face.

From 1918 to 1920, Simon examined addicts for the New York State Narcotic Commission. In 1920, he was appointed Special Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of the Narcotics Bureau. Simon was credited with increasing the number of people arrested for drug related crimes, In 1921, Simon was also responsible for the formation of the International Narcotic Criminal Identification Bureau which collected records, including photography and fingerprints, an over 100,000 people convicted of narcotic-connected crimes in 700 cities in the United States and 27 foreign countries. Following his tenure as deputy commissioner, Simon compiled a narcotic survey for the state of Louisiana which estimated the number of addicts and the extent of drug trafficking in the state.

From 1928 to 1938, Simon served as special adviser to the Will Hays Commission, which developed a production code that all the movie studios agreed to follow. Simon's role was to read proposed film scripts and to watch movies to ensure that crime was not being glorified. He also advised about whether certain films were indirect causes to specific crimes.

Simon was an advocate of universal, compulsory fingerprinting and of the use of identification badges as means of establishing positive identity. In 1936 he and Dr. Isadore Goldstein developed a retinal method of identification whereby a photograph was made of the pattern of blood vessels of the retina. This method was supposed to be superior to fingerprinting because the pattern of blood vessels could not be changed whereas fingerprints could at least be disfigured.

Carleton Simon had other interests besides criminology. He was known as "The Father of Casting" and was World Surf Casting Champion from 1914 to 1919. In 1914, he organized the Association of Surf Angling Clubs. He wrote about fish and fishing under the pseudonyms Baron Munchausen, Grape Juice, and John O'Neill. He also wrote poems, a few of which were published in newspaper, under the name "The Ancient Mariner," Carlisle Simon, his own name and anonymously. At least a couple of police stories that fictionalized his experience at the NY Police Department were published under the name Charles Somerville.

Carleton Simon continued to present his ideal as a criminologist to the public in his last years. He gave addresses, often to law enforcement organizations, and continued to write. He was the criminologist for the New York State and the New England associations for Chiefs of Police. He died on the eighteenth of February 1951, just before his eightieth birthday.

Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript collection were purchased from Charles Apfelbaum, a dealer in rare books and collections, by the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, on November 22, 1988.
Processing information:

Processed in 1988 by Geoffrey Huth.


The collection is arranged into eight series.

  1. Series 1: Biographical Files. 1894, 1901, 1911, 1915-52, 1956. 4 in.
  2. Series 2: Correspondence and Newspaper Clippings. 1881, 1911, 1920-26, 1931-37, 1940-50. 3 in.
  3. Series 3: Pamphlets and Other Published Material by Carleton Simon. 1901, 1904-05, 1919-52. 6 in.
  4. Series 4: Unpublished Writings by Carleton Simon. 1900-25, 1935-38, 1940-48. 7 in.
  5. Series 5: The Hay's Code. 1926-37, 1946, 1940. 2.5 in.
  6. Series 6: Photographs. 1900, 1925, 1936, 1938, 1944, 1950. 1.5 in.
  7. Series 7: Memorabilia. 1982-1889, 1094-96, 1902, 1907, 1911-50. 3 in.
  8. Series 8: Publications About Carleton Simon and His Work. 1900, 1906, 1921, 1923-34, 1935, 1939, 1949. 1 in.
Physical location:
The materials are located onsite in the department.



Using These Materials

The archives are open to the public and anyone is welcome to visit and view the collections.

Access to this record group is unrestricted.


The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Carleton P. Simon Papers, 1881-1952, 1956. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Simon Papers).

Schedule a Visit

Archival materials can be viewed in-person in our reading room. We recommend making an appointment to ensure materials are available when you arrive.

Schedule a Visit Hours