“Is a document genuine?” Forensic analysis is not only used to determine authenticity in legal evidence but also in the archival world. Recently The Mary Baker Eddy Library conducted a handwriting analysis on entries in the diaries of Calvin Frye, who worked as Mary Baker Eddy’s secretary for many years. Over the course of decades, some of these entries have been subject to questioning and speculation about their origin and authenticity, as well as about the actual identity of their author. At issue was how to understand Eddy’s use of morphine during incidents of extreme physical pain. Forensic science has helped illuminate some of the claims surrounding these diary entries. We spoke with Khody Detwiler, a forensic document examiner, to learn what he discovered about some of Frye’s diaries—and how he came to his conclusions. Read more: From the Collections: A forensic analysis of Calvin Frye’s diaries
Khody R. Detwiler has been involved in the field of Forensic Document Examination since 2008. He is currently a Forensic Document Examiner (FDE) in private practice with Lesnevich & Detwiler, in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Penn State University, he completed his formal FDE training under the tutelage of Gus R. Lesnevich. He is a member of the Questioned Documents Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), as well as of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners (ASQDE); Midwestern Association of Forensic Scientists, Inc. (MAFS); Mid-Atlantic Association of Forensic Scientists (MAAFS); Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists (NEAFS); and the International Association for Identification (IAI). Detwiler is currently serving as the Questioned Documents Section Chair of the MAAFS. He recently completed his term as vice-chair of the Forensic Document Examination Consensus Body of the AAFS Academy Standards Board (ASB).
Michael Hamilton is Executive Manager of The Mary Baker Eddy Library. He came to the position following ten years in the Religion and Philosophy Department at Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. Prior to teaching he served for 20 years as an active-duty US Navy chaplain, ministering to units in both the navy and marine corps. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research and writing focus is on American religions.
Judy Huenneke is the Library’s Senior Research Archivist. She graduated from the School of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University. She also completed a second master’s in history at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, with a thesis on Louisiana slave owner, colonizationist, and reformer John McDonogh. Her work currently focuses on researching the history of the Christian Science movement, from its nineteenth-century beginnings to the present day.