Yale Law Library exhibit highlights 19th-century murder trials

Murder trials have long been sensationalized in popular culture, and murder trials involving women — either as the accused or as the victim — have held particular fascination for the public.

The latest exhibit from the Yale Law Library’s Rare Book Collection, “Murder and Women in 19th-Century America: Trial Accounts in the Yale Law Library,” features 19th-century illustrated murder trial pamphlets that document the public’s interest in these trials.

The exhibit includes murder trial pamphlets with headlines that read: “The Mysterious Murder of Pretty Rose Ambler, the Connecticut Beauty”; “Jennie E. Cramer, The Beautiful Victim of the Elm City Tragedy”; and “Life and Confession of Mrs. Henrietta Robinson, the Veiled Murderess!”

Curated by Michael Widener, rare book librarian at the Yale Law Library, and Emma Molina Widener, adjunct professor of Spanish at Southern Connecticut State University, the exhibit is on display through Feb. 21, 2015. It is on view to the public in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, located on level L2 of the Lillian Goldman Law Library, Sterling Law Buildings, 127 Wall St. The exhibit can also be viewed on the Rare Book Collection’s Flickr site.

“Murder trial pamphlets are a rich source for studying popular culture and the history of the book, as well as legal history,” says Michael Widener. “Trials involving women are especially valuable for the study of 19th-century gender roles. With the exception of slavery trials, no genre of 19th-century legal literature is better served by research tools than murder trials.”

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Media Contact

Bess Connolly: elizabeth.connolly@yale.edu, 203-432-1324