Home of the blues, Chicago has always been an articulate and tough town. Now, under the direction of Leigh B. Bienen, senior lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law, the Chicago Historical Homicide Project provides primary source access to "a rich log of 11,000 homicides maintained consistently and without interruption by the Chicago Police Department over the course of 60 years, from 1870-1930."
Funded by several grants, including one from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the research and development of this new Web site "was to make available to a wide audience, of teachers and students at the undergraduate and graduate level, to professionals and to amateurs, all of the cases and the rich contextual materials available on this period in Chicago." Arranged chronologically, these contextual materials consist mainly of historical photographs, illustrations and newspaper clippings.
The most unique offering on this site is the "Interactive Database" that allows curiosity seekers and researchers alike the ability to search for an individual or a group of cases. Users may search the database by case number, date of offense, a variety of circumstances, a description of the victim and the defendant, their relationship, and the legal outcome of the case/s. The site also permits researchers to download the database in three formats: SPSS, Microsoft Access, and Excel.
After trying out the "Interactive Database," Homicide in Chicago visitors won't want to miss some of the more famous "Crimes of the Century," including titles such as "Capone vs. McSwiggin," "Death by Moonshine," and the "Haymarket Affair." With all the links to related documents, photographs, and hypertext references, avid readers will become engrossed for hours in these cases that have shaped Chicago's brutal history.
A "Publications" link offers PDF access to eleven primary and secondary resources useful to the study of Chicago criminology. And finally, click on the "Interviews" to watch and listen to several law professors discuss at length various studies and cases, alongside a rare interview of Clarence Darrow, circa 1932, where he staunchly expresses his views on the nature of criminal behavior.
Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930 is an innovative and well-designed site that provides easy access to primary and secondary source documents that scholarly researchers and casual visitors would have difficulty accessing otherwise. It is highly recommended for anybody interested in "an opportunity to study the rule of law, or its absence."
Gloucester County Community College