Thursday, March 06, 2008

Murder Pamphlet Exhibit at NLM

Stephen Greenberg writes:

"The History of Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibit, "MOST HORRIBLE & SHOCKING MURDERS: True crime murder pamphlets in the collection of the National Library of Medicine." It is located in display cases in the HMD Reading Room, on the first floor of the National Library of Medicine, Building 38, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. The exhibit is open Monday through Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, and Saturday 8:30am to 2:30pm, through June 15, 2008.

Ever since the mid-1400s, the public's appetite for tales of shocking murders-"true crime"-has been one of the most durable facts of the market for printed material. Murder pamphlets were hawked on street corners, taverns, coffeehouses, newsstands, and bookshops. Typically, the pamphlets claimed to be true accounts of a murder, consisting of a narrative, trial transcript, or written confession of the murderer before his or her execution. Sometimes they featured medical commentary. The pamphlets on display in "MOST HORRIBLE & SHOCKING MURDERS" were printed between 1692 and 1881. Some deal with cases of interest to the emerging field of forensic medicine. Others deal with cases in which doctors were accused of-or were victims of-heinous crimes. Still others have no medical connection whatsoever. Today, murder pamphlets are a rich source for historians and crime novelists, who mine them to study the history of medicine, class, gender, the law, the city, religion and other topics.

The exhibit was curated by Michael Sappol, PhD. For further information on the exhibit, contact Stephen Greenberg, e-mail greenbes@mail.nih.gov, phone 301-435-4995. Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised to consult the NIH Visitors and Security website at: http://www.nih.gov/about/visitorsecurity.htm."

If crime broadsides are up your alley, don't forget to check out Harvard's digital collection of more than 500 examples.

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