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The Origin of the ASQDE

The ASQDE was formally established on September 2, 1942. The prime mover and first president was Albert S. Osborn. Mr. Osborn is considered the father of the scientific examination of questioned documents in the United States. His Questioned Documents, first edition 1910, and The Problem of Proof, first edition 1922, were widely acclaimed by the legal profession and public and private agencies concerned with promoting justice in matters involving questions about documents.

In 1913, Mr. Osborn initiated a program for the interchange of ideas and research information by inviting Mr. Elbridge Stein of Pittsburgh to discuss with him various questions relating to questioned document examination. Mr. Stein was a profound student and eagerly accepted Mr. Osborn's invitation. Within the next year or two, J. Fordyce Wood of Chicago, J. Frank Shearman of Wichita, and John J. Lomax of Montreal were added to the list. These men also were eager to sit at the fountainhead and learn from Mr. Osborn. From the beginning they were asked to participate wholeheartedly in the discussions.

Mr. John F. Tyrrell of Milwaukee, a long-time friend of Mr. Osborn, was one of the early participants at the meetings. Albert D. Osborn, the son of Albert S. Osborn, was invited to attend in 1919 on his return from overseas service with the United States armed forces during World War I.

In 1926, Herbert J. Walter of Winnipeg,, Canada, was invited; and within the next two years, Edwin H. Fearon of Pittsburgh, Harry E. Cassidy of Richmond, and Scott E. Leslie of Cleveland were brought into the group.

James Clark Sellers of Los Angeles was invited and attended the 1930 meeting. At that meeting, Rafael Fernandez Ruenes of Havana, Cuba, also attended. In 1931, John L. Harris of Los Angeles was asked to join this devoted group of specialists, which he willingly did. In the meantime, George Walter, son of Herbert, became a member. Elwin C. Leslie, son of Scott E. Leslie, attended and participated in the 1939 meeting. George J. Lacy, Houston, Texas, was invited and first attended in 1942 as did Warren T. Johnson.

Membership in this informal organization was entirely by invitation. Its meetings were completely educational in scope, and annual attendance as well as full participation in the program were an absolute requirement for a continuing invitation. Thus in thirty years of its existence a few individuals, whose names are not mentioned, attended two or three meetings and then dropped out of the group because of a lack of indicated interest or inability to participate in such a rigorous program.

The above-named persons formed the background for this Society in the years prior to 1942 when the group was formally organized under its present name.

At the 1942 meeting, on September 2, 1942, it was decided to perfect an organization to be known as "The American Society of Questioned Document Examiners" with the following elected officers and charter members:

 
Albert S. Osborn, President
James Clark Sellers, Vice President
Elbridge W. Stein, Secretary
John F. Tyrrell, Treasurer
Albert D. Osborn
Herbert J. Walter
Harry E. Cassidy
Edwin H. Fearon
Scott E. Leslie
Rafael Fernandez Ruenes
John L. Harris
George B. Walter
Elwin C. Leslie
George J. Lacy
Warren T. Johnson
 
Adapted from a presentation by James V.P. Conway at the 50th Anniversary Conference
of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, August 22-26, 1992.