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Studies in Scarlet
March 15, 2007 5:05 PM   Subscribe

Studies in Scarlet: Marriage & Sexuality in the US & UK, 1815-1914, courtesy of Harvard University, features digitized trial narratives for over 400 cases--some famous, most not. (Harvard also has a more general collection of trial narratives here.) There are earlier trial narratives at Rictor Norton's Homosexuality in Eighteenth Century England: A Sourcebook and Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports; see also CrimeCulture's Rogue's Gallery and a Victorian anthology, Curiosities of Street Literature (originally published in 1871). Albert Borowitz has a brief history of true crime narratives here. For more historical criminality from the investigator's point of view, check out the Forensic Medicine Archives Project at the University of Glasgow. (Main link via VICTORIA.)
posted by thomas j wise (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
This can only be good.

(as is thomas j wise's entire back-catalogue of posts, which I had somehow not looked up before...)
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:05 PM on March 15, 2007


Man, this is great.
posted by flibbertigibbet at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2007


Oh my god this is so fucking fascinating. Newspaper reports about gay sex from the early 1700s? Thanks, thomas j. wise! I love this little bit of early 18th century Ann Landers, which the commentary notes is evidence that "the heterosexual/homosexual binary was well in place" by 1701:

Quest 77. How do you prove, that one Man may have a greater Affection for another, than for the Fair Sex?

Answ. This Question is not put well; for every Person that indulges the Male Amours, and those who have been executed for Catamiting, proves, That some one Man may have a greater Passion for a Catamite, than a female Prostitute. Now if the Question had been, How such a Degeneracy comes in the Affections of Man, to prefer Male Concubinage with a greater Affection than the Female, it might have been better put.

posted by mediareport at 7:38 PM on March 15, 2007


This is my historical period!

Thank you a thousand times!
posted by winna at 8:39 PM on March 15, 2007


London, Oct. 18. There are seventeen Bills of Indictment found by the Grand Jury for the City of London, and three by the Grand Jury for the County of Middlesex, against twenty several Persons, for Endeavouring to commit Preposterous Venery

Yes, m'lud, you heard right - Preposterous Venery, no less!
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:41 PM on March 15, 2007


This is the most interesting post I have seen on Metafilter in a very long time. Thanks.
posted by Rumple at 10:47 PM on March 15, 2007


Fascinating post, thank you thomas j wise.

My wonderful great aunt, an author, who had a degree in French literature, asked her husband if he had any ideas for a novel. He suggested she turn to old French trial records, so she did and wrote a beautifully written book,The Wife of Martin Guerre about an actual 16th Century case. (She also wrote two other novels based on trials and evidence).
posted by nickyskye at 10:55 PM on March 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh my god this is so fucking fascinating.

Just what I thought. What a fantastic post (and I too am a massive fan of thomas j wise's posts. They are always brilliant).
posted by greycap at 12:16 AM on March 16, 2007


I hate to be the lone dissenting voice, but I think the Studies in Scarlet website is a textbook case of how NOT to put information online. It's a fairly miscellaneous collection of pamphlets, dumped onto the web with practically no historical or contextual information.

To give one example of how misleading it could be: the account of the Oscar Wilde trial (second link in the FPP) is a digitized version of Oscar Wilde: Three Times Tried (Paris, 1912). This is based on contemporary newspaper reports of the trial, heavily censored to remove the more explicit sexual detail. But the site gives no background information about it -- so an unwary student who stumbled onto this website would have no idea that he/she was reading an incomplete account of the trial.

Still, this is a fascinating collection of links -- and I agree with greycap, thomas j wise's posts are always worth reading. (Rictor Norton's website previously discussed here.) See also Proceedings of the Central Criminal Court, an ambitious project to digitize the records of 100,000 London criminal trials between 1834 and 1913, which should be coming online next year. It's going to be an incredibly rich resource, and has the potential to transform our understanding of nineteenth-century legal and criminal history (with major implications for the way we think about crime today).
posted by verstegan at 7:57 AM on March 16, 2007


I hate to be the lone dissenting voice, but I think the Studies in Scarlet website is a textbook case of how NOT to put information online.

Don't dissent too much, or you'll find yourself falsely accused of Catamiting.
posted by COBRA! at 8:51 AM on March 16, 2007


Oh my god this is so fucking fascinating.

Thirded. How am I supposed to concentrate on working this morning?
posted by jokeefe at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2007


I hate to be the lone dissenting voice, but I think the Studies in Scarlet website is a textbook case of how NOT to put information online. It's a fairly miscellaneous collection of pamphlets, dumped onto the web with practically no historical or contextual information.

On beginning to read through it, agreed. It's wonderful for random browsing, but I'm not sure how well it would work as a resource.

Her beauty was her ruin.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to continue reading "The authentic life of Mrs. Mary Ann Bickford : who was murdered in the city of Boston, on the 27th of October, 1845. Comprising a large number of her origional letters and corespondence never before published."
posted by jokeefe at 10:25 AM on March 16, 2007


MetaFilter: you'll find yourself falsely accused of Catamiting.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:29 PM on March 16, 2007


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