The Record Keepers
TriQuarterly Journal, Vol. 124, 2006
40 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2006
The Record Keepers by Leigh Buchanan Bienen describes the evolution of the Chicago Historical Homicide Project, beginning with the discovery of the preservation of a set of original police records of homicides in Chicago over the period 1870-1930, a time of enormous political, economic, and social activity. All 14,000 cases, both the original narrative case summaries and the new coded, quantitative files, are available for download on the Northwestern University website, along with contemporaneous legal documents and reports, publications and commentary on the cases and the period, and photographs from the period. The homicide cases include the names of defendants and victims, addresses, and evocative details leading to other sources. The Record Keepers introduces The Violence, a Special Issue of Triquarterly (No. 124) on Law and Literature, which includes articles by law professors, poets and novelists, legal historians, humanists and others. The Record Keepers and the other essays reflect upon the challenges and rewards of engaging in the reconstruction and reimagination of the past, beginning with legal documents and court records.
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