Trial: Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture (1790–1920) Digital Archive

The Library has begun a trial to Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture (1790–1920) digital archive (Gale). The collection contains over 2 million pages of trial transcripts, police and forensic reports, detective novels, newspaper accounts, and true crime literature from the 19th century. The archive is composed of 22 collections from source libraries including the British Library, National Archives (US), American Antiquarian Society, Library of Congress, and Harvard University Law Library. The content is mostly in English, with some content in French, German, Danish, Finnish, and Hawaiian.

This collection contains materials that could be used to research the causes and effects of the rise in crime during the Industrial Revolution, the development of metropolitan police departments, and the public’s fascination with sensational accounts of crime in newspapers and fiction. It covers changing attitudes about punishment and reform that led to such practices as solitary confinement, prison work programs, and penal transportation, as well as “scientific” theories such as phrenology, which posited that character could be determined by physiognomy.

The interface allows you to view scans of the original items alongside plain-text transcripts, and the full text is searchable. All items have been OCRed (including hand-written items).

The trial will end on 09/20/2020. Please send any feedback to Stacy Reardon: sreardon at berkeley.