Notorious Utah brothel owner’s interview eludes historians

“It’s probably been decades since anyone has used (shorthand),” Langsdon said. “But if we could find someone who can decipher these notes, it could be pretty fascinating.”

[I even found an education article about shorthand in Ogden – 98% studied Gregg.  So presumably, that’s what the reporter’s notes are.]

Contact info in the article.


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      1. You can see the shorthand in the Standard Examiner link that is posted within the AP article. I didn't link directly to it because the Standard Sentinel newspaper limits the number of article views.

          1. So there, another reason for not linking directly. But I'm glad you saw the shorthand. These newspapers try to restrict access as much as possible if one doesn't pay, or in this case, if you’re out of the country.

  1. Has anyone successfully contacted the Weber library special collections department about this? I translated those few pages and wanted to see the rest of them. I cannot get in contact with anyone there.  They have very limited hours and are very difficult to get a hold of. It must be a very small college with a very small library staff. If someone gets more pages, I would like to see them. 

    The AP newspaper story stated that there are very few people who can read this system of shorthand. I think that is greatly exaggerated. It’s not hieroglyphics. It is 1929 Anniversary shorthand.

    The biggest challenge is that the shorthand is very sloppy, the proportions are terrible, and several words are just plain wrong. A stenographer was sent by one of the newspapers. He was not very skilled. He was only getting fragments of what people were saying because he could obviously not keep up. I was able to pick up on some quirks in this person’s shorthand that helped me translate most of it. I had the most difficulty with names of people written in shorthand. Also, there are a few English abbreviations or words that are harder to read than the sloppy shorthand. 

    I don’t know if these two shorthand pages are in sequence, but there are obviously other pages. The second page ends in the middle of a sentence. 

    I think it is absolutely crazy that the story was picked up by the Associated Press and is all over the Internet in dozens of newspapers. I don’t know why this is such big news.

    They make this out to be a great mystery and suggest that there is some very juicy information written in shorthand. That is definitely not the case. There are very few names or juicy details in these pages. This is actually a press conference, not a one-on-one interview. There were at least three news reporters asking her questions. There was a fourth person who was some type of legal official who was also asking her questions. His main concern was getting her signed statements to a grand jury to help convict the corrupt public officials. 

    It seems that she was being pressed for details by these reporters, but she would not provide much to them. Apparently, she decided to cooperate with law enforcement and turned in corrupt public officials who accepted money bribes from her, her husband, and someone else. She decided to cooperate shortly after she got arrested. She stated that she gave sworn, signed statements to the police that were being hidden in the safe in the sheriff’s office. She suggested that they might be afraid of some judge and were suppressing evidence about these public officials accepting money bribes.

    1. I haven't contacted them. However, I agree with your assessment. They're making a big deal about it, to be honest. Further, most of the shorthand notes were just that, notes, not full sentences, and your transcription is right on the mark.

      By the way, I only see one page of shorthand notes. The other two images are one of Mrs. Davie, and another of the envelope.

  2. The link in the original posting above is for the AP news site. That version has no image of an envelope and two pages of the shorthand.

    I found another link for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Utah that originated the story. That original story has the image of the envelope and only the first page of shorthand.

    I have two pages of shorthand notes and an image of the envelope. I was very surprised when I saw that a stenographer took these notes. I would have less difficulty understanding the low quality of the notes if they were made by one of the news reporters attending the press conference. It seems that they actually paid somebody to document this press conference in shorthand. 

    I found it interesting that the AP news site omitted the name of the sheriff. His name is listed on the Standard-Examiner version of the story. I wonder why the AP left his name off.

  3. I think I figured out why that library is no longer interested in someone helping translate the shorthand. 

    I just saw a comment on Facebook posted by the head of the special collections department. Two days ago she posted: 

    “We have 20 people on it. It will be interesting to see what it says.”

  4. Judging from the mess on the shorthand pages, they may very well need 20 people to work on it. Or one person who really knows what they’re doing. With the story going out on the AP, it’s no wonder that they had enough help lined up by the next day. 

  5. I did get into direct contact with the head of the university's special collections department – the one mentioned in the intervielw. She sent me all the pages – there are 6 of them. I haven't had time to work on them, but I'm so curious! She told me they have "hundreds" of people who have volunteered to translate. I'll post all 6 pages if anyone is interested. Would love to see a full translation posted to the blog by anyone who as the time to do it!

    1. Since the library is interested in the transcription, they should post those shorthand pages themselves, or pay someone to do the job. Major libraries showcase their collections on the internet all the time. It seems they want people to do the dirty work, without much effort (or compensation) from their part. Just my 2 cents.

      1. I feel the same way, Carlos. I was told they are not interested in paying "at this time" because they have "hundreds" of people willing to attempt translation for free. I guess they are only willing to fork out money if the volunteers are not successful – which I'm sure won't be the case. Carlos, would you prefer I not post the pages? My thought was that we could use it as a practice opportunity. But if you would prefer we not participate as a matter of principle, I will certainly support that. Just let me know!

        1. As a practice opportunity, the objective has been already achieved, imho… smiley

          Ah, I wish there were some texts in French Gregg, but nowhere in sight…  crying

        2. I agree that we should not post it. I went through the entire six pages. I translated them to challenge myself. 

          I personally would not be comfortable posting my translation because there are unsubstantiated accusations made against deceased public officials. 

          I have the feeling that a lot of these people who have come forward to help may have taken a shorthand class at one point or worked as a secretary years ago. Due to the poor quality of the shorthand, it would take someone with a lot of experience to decipher these pages accurately. There will probably be as many different translations as there are people translating this. This college should probably pay someone to do this. I think they may be getting what they are paying for. 

          1. I agree with Paul. Since the library has hundreds of people participating, let them deal with it and have them post the shorthand and the transcript at their website. Besides, I don't want to get involved in potentially legal issues with anyone, dead or alive!

  6. That would be great if you could post it.

    I also got the 6 pages last night and translated them. I had the biggest problem with names of people and a few notes written in English. The person who wrote the shorthand was a secretary. 

    My guess is that this secretary got maybe 10% of what they were saying during the meeting. There are a lot of sentence fragments. One sentence or phrase doesn’t necessarily make sense in context with the previous one. 

    The stenographer had forgotten most of her brief forms and wrote some things out phonetically. Some words were written three or four different ways.

    Depending on what this town already knows about these public officials, this may be interesting to them or it might be old news.

    When you are translating this, you need to look at the context, rather than the shorthand as written. Some words are just plain incorrect.



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