Saturday, May 11, 2019

Murder Illustrated.

Graphic images depicting brutal crimes often accompanied murder stories in 19th Century publications. In the early years, the already old tradition of murder pamphlets, sold at public executions, often including the condemned killers’ confessions, began to feature shocking illustrations of the murders. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Kentucky Tragedy
Illustration from The Beauchamp Tragedy in Kentucky. New York: Dinsmore & Co., 1858

Michael Garvey
Illustration from Brooke, H.K. Tragedies on the Land, Philadelphia, 1845

"A Most Extraordinary Case."
Illustration from Trials of Capt. Joseph J. Knapp, Jr. and George Crowninshield for the Murder of Capt. Joseph White of Salem, (Boston: Charles Ellms, 1830)

The Bitter Fruit of Jest
Illustration from Tingley, H. F., Incidents in the life of Milton W. Streeter (Pawtucket: H. F. Tingley, 1850).

By the middle of the century, mainstream magazines like Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper and Harper’s Weekly increased circulation by publishing illustrated murder stores. The boost Frank Leslie’s received from their well-illustrated coverage of the Burdell murder in 1857 saved the magazine from bankruptcy

More Scenes from the Burdell Murder.
Illustration from "The Supposed Manner of the Murder of Dr. Burdell", Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, February, 28, 1857.

The Thirtieth Street Murder.
Illustration from “Terrible Tragedy in New York,” Harper's Weekly, November 6, 1858.

Throughout the century the National Police Gazette included several murder stories every week, accompanied by sensational and often gruesome engravings. Sometimes a single picture was used to illustrate multiple aspects of the same crime.

A Grave-Robber's Fate.
Illustration from “Shot in a Graveyard,” National Police Gazette, June 10, 1882.

Avenging Her Honor.
Illustration from "Killed by a Woman." National Police Gazette, Dec 7, 1889.

The Long Island Murders.
Illustration from "Murder Most Foul." National Police Gazette, Dec 8, 1883.

The New Hampshire Horror.
Illustration from "New Hampshire Horror." National Police Gazette, Dec 15, 1883.

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