Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Death in Chicago

"Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930" is the fascinating Web site of the Chicago Historical Homicide Project, which began with the discovery of Chicago Police Department records of more than 11,000 homicides occurring in Chicago between 1870-1930.  Some additional deaths by misadventure are included, such as auto accident, suicide, and accidental poisoning.  The main feature of the Web site is a database of all the deaths from the logs.  The database may be searched by name, age, sex, or occupation of the victim or defendant, date, circumstances of the death, outcome of a trial, and several other variables.  The database may also be downloaded in several formats.  The site includes information about the historical and legal contexts of the homicides, several articles that can be downloaded, synoposes of about two dozen "crimes of the century", and more.  The graphics on the links at the top of the page change as you go back and forth between pages.  Warning:  Some links don't work from some of the pages.

The site says that the records run without interruption for the sixty years that they cover, so the inference is that they should be complete.  They probably are for homicides, but apparently not for all other deaths.  I looked for a suicide I know occurred on March 1, 1930 (I even have the death certificate), and it isn't there.  There is a comment on the site about how the homicides in the records became cases, so maybe this suicide didn't become a case, however that might be defined.

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