As we’re gearing up for this year’s Genealogy Day program of “Crime, Fame, and other Genealogical Confessions,” here are few sites we’ve found which can help you hunt down the notorious figures lurking in your family tree.
Looking for a daily dose of ancestral crime? Murder by Gaslight highlights criminal stories and cases from all over the US during the late 19th century. Graphics and articles are heavily featured on the site, which ads a lot to the presentation of each case. While the site is not searchable by surname, each article is well tagged by state, year, category, and decade. Each entry is available to share via e-mail from the main site, and duplicate posts are available on Facebook to share with genealogy friends.
One of the best genealogical gems I’ve found this year is from Internet Archive. It set my heart aflutter when I found it! The adjunct general’s office of Texas printed a list of persons in 1900 wanted in connection with a variety of crimes. This book, entitled simply List of Fugitives from Justice for 1900 is highly detailed, easy to ready, and completely searchable! Some of the crimes date back to 1896, so it is possible this book may document an ancestral crime spree in full measure. This book is a great way to narrow down a county of residence or the county where the crime occurred. As this book as digitized by the Allen County Public Library, I hope other states and further editions of this book will be made available online soon! You’ll want to supplement your browsing of this book with A List of Fugitives From Justice – 1878, 1886, 1891 & 1900 on RootsWeb. The University of Texas also houses An Inventory of Secretary of State Fugitive Records at the Texas State Archives, 1837-1965, bulk 1875-1915. These are not available online yet, but they are super useful to anyone conducting research in the Lone Star State.
There’s a growing collection of criminal reports being digitized and posted online. These reports may be very dry and burdened with legal jargon, however, they are free and searchable to anyone with internet access. I suggest trying American Criminal Reports on Google Books and American State Trials on Internet Archive. Both these publications have multiple editions, so their content may change. Double check certain editions to make sure you’re leaving no genealogical stone unturned.
For researchers with UK ancestors, the Harvard Law School Library houses a collection of UK, Irish, and American criminal broadsides entitled Dying Speeches and Bloody Murders. This collection has been digitized, is available to browse by name, and contains over 500 items dating from 1707 to 1891.
These broadsides provide excellent details of the accused criminal, as well as rough portraits. What I love most about this collection, is how each broadside documents the nature of each crime, confessions or accounts, and will include portraits or artwork pertaining to sentencing. Many of the full trials and accounts for crimes committed in England can be read for free on the Old Bailey Online. Don’t forget to check in with FindMyPast to see additional details of the cases found in the Dying Speeches and Bloody Murders collection!
If you haven’t had a chance to register for Genealogy Day on Saturday, May 6, you’ll want to save your seat right away! You can register online or by phone at (630) 685-4176. Can’t watch the program in person? No problem! We’re streaming and recording this year’s event online via YouTube. Look for updates and handouts on the Webinar portion of our blog in April!
See You At The Library!