Early History is a document written by the West Branch of the New York State Psychiatric Hospital about the life of Walter Kovacs, a.k.a. Rorschach. The text was written by Alan Moore as a means to show a history of Rorschach along with other texts such as My Parents and Walter Kovacs' Dream. The document is given to Rorschach's psychiatrist, Dr. Malcolm Long inside Kovacs' arrest file.

Early History: a summary

The document starts with details of the life of Sylvia Kovacs who left Ohio to come to New York in the spring of 1935 with her husband, Peter Joseph Kovacs, who she had divorced in 1937 due to accusations of adultery and mental cruelty only two months before Walter was born. She then lived in a number of low-rent apartments for the next three years with a number of male acquaintances. Apparently she had slowly drifted into prostitution as a means of meeting her debt, and was first arrested shortly after his birth. The document speculates that the cost to raise a child may have been what necessitated her need for prostitution, which in turn may be a factor of her resentment and cruelty toward her son. She never gave details to Walter about his father except that his name was 'Charlie'.

In July of 1951, Walter viciously attacked two older boys in the street, partially blinding one of them, and was admitted into care. Because he refused to speak about the attack, it was presumed that it was unprovoked. His lifestyle was investigated and it was revealed he was regularly beaten and exposed to the worst excesses of a prostitutes lifestyle, thus he was admitted into the Lillian Charlton Home for Problem Children in New Jersey. He did well at schoolwork, excelling in literature and religious education as well as being impressive in gymnastics and amateur boxing. While quiet and shy, especially with women, he was capable of long, reasoned conversations with his classmates and instructors, striking most people as serious and likeable, but withdrawn. He was released in 1956 when they decided he was intelligent and stable enough to function in normal society.

Shortly before leaving, news was received that his mother, who had never attempted to contact and became further involved with small-time vice, had been murdered. The cause of her death being forced ingestion of Drano cleaning fluid from her pimp George Paterson; her body was found in a back alleyway in the South Bronx. When Walter heard, aged sixteen, his only reply was 'Good.' He lived in a series of small apartments, and took full employment in a menial capacity within the garment industry up until the mid-seventies, maintaining a dual life between his daytime employment and nocturnal activities in the guise of 'Rorschach.'

The document notes that some officers have called him a 'prophet-of-doom sandwich-board man', but since he refuses to divulge his address, if any, this is not provable at this stage. The writer notes he has obtained two photocopies of documents written during Walter's stay at the Charlton Home; an essay on the set topic 'My Parents' when he was eleven and a transcription of his verbal recounting of a nightmare he suffered at thirteen.