Thursday, January 10, 2008

Harvard Law Library Collection of Early British Broadsides from Public Executions

The Harvard Law School Library has an online collection of so-called crime broadsides, publications sold to the crowds who came to witness public executions in 18th and 19th century England:

"These ephemeral publications were intended for the middle or lower classes, and most sold for a penny or less. Published in British towns and cities by printers who specialized in this type of street literature, a typical example features an illustration (usually of the criminal, the crime scene, or the execution); an account of the crime and (sometimes) the trial; and the purported confession of the criminal, often cautioning the reader in doggerel verse to avoid the fate awaiting the perpetrator."

"The Library's collection of more than 500 broadsides is one of the largest recorded and the first to be digitized in its entirety. The examples digitized here span the years 1707 to 1891 and include accounts of executions for such crimes as arson, assault, counterfeiting, horse stealing, murder, rape, robbery, and treason. Many of the broadsides vividly describe the results of sentences handed down at London's central criminal court, the Old Bailey..."
I referred to the digitization of proceedings from the Old Bailey in a Library Boy post of April 10, 2007 entitled Old Bailey Proceedings Digitized that described the digitization of the digests of more than 100,000 trials that took place in the famous London criminal courts between 1674 and 1834.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:15 pm


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