White Supremacy Mob Violence
October 22, 2018 1:21 PM   Subscribe

On these pages you will meet Monroe Nathan Work, who lived from 1866 – 1945 [. . .] he felt compelled to document every known lynching that was happening in the United States.[. . .] Before this website, it was impossible to search the web and find an accurate scope of the history of American lynching. The names have always been kept safe, but distant, in old archives and scholarly books and dissertations. This site leaves the record open for all Americans, especially high school students who want to learn more than what their textbook has to say.
Monroe Work Today, which includes an interactive map.
posted by Rumple (9 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
This is both fascinating and horrifying, and the single dots if anything massively undersell what was recorded happening. For instance, Philadelphia looked surprisingly less horrible than other major metro areas, though upon clicking one of the dots it described a " white mobs roamed the streets seeking revenge on anyone black ... Hundreds of victims were treated at hospitals."
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 1:53 PM on October 22, 2018 [3 favorites]

It's not just that the dots don't show the scale of reported events, but the report itself is an undercount:

"Now, Mr. Work's tally of deaths became the most trusted number — even more than the Tribune, because his reports came from the South and could not be accused of having a biased Northern agenda. Also, he usually counted a slightly lower number than reports from other activist organizations, because he held himself to an extremely high standard of being certain about the facts of the event. By being more conservative in his work, he established credibility with leaders who otherwise wanted to ignore the problem. By 1922, his lynching record went out to 2,000 separate newspapers. His documentation, being read everywhere, was now the conscience of the entire nation."

Though it says later that each report was cross-checked against modern research, and corrected where necessary. However, it's hard to see how that kind of cross-checking would add to the numbers.

Also interesting are that the project also includes reports of violence against Mexican, Sicilian, Native American, and Chinese men.
posted by subdee at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

On further reading, the map itself is an undercount of Monroe Work's record:

Some victims were not displayed in this map because there is some doubt about them based on the available information. Most of the lynchings identified by Monroe Work in the early 1900s have been verified by scholars of today. However some lynchings that he counted could not be documented by scholars quite so easily, so this leaves doubt on those particular ones. On this website, 409 more deaths have been omitted (they do not appear on the map) in order to be the most conservative and cautious about this doubt. Many people can rightfully disagree and desire to include these 409 cases. Some researchers continue to investigate these.
posted by subdee at 2:58 PM on October 22, 2018 [2 favorites]

I see there's not just one, but two lynchings in Greenville, TX. Thomas Peddy in 1885 and then Ted Smith in 1908. It was Mr. Smith I was looking for; there's a souvenir postcard of his lynching (content warning: burning human being). The townsfolk are in the back looking on, like it's a fucking party. I often wonder if my great-grandparents are there in that photo cheering the murder of a Black man. It's quite possible they were.

In another Metafilter discussion on lynchings I found that someone had made a list of some of the people present at the murder. Wouldn't it be amazing to have lists like that for other lynchings? A tiny bit of truth, maybe leading to the idea of reconciliation.
posted by Nelson at 3:15 PM on October 22, 2018 [5 favorites]

One nice detail about the map; it's not the typical US political map. Instead this one highlights countires drawn from a 1916 county dataset. And it also includes Native American lands from that era.
posted by Nelson at 3:23 PM on October 22, 2018

I was a little surprised that one of the best known lynchings in Atlanta, Leo Frank, was not on the map.
posted by TedW at 6:16 AM on October 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's a little cluster around me of people who were lynched after being accused of arson, which I had not heard of before. I wonder if they were simply framed for insurance fraud purposes?
posted by thelonius at 8:03 AM on October 23, 2018

If, like me, you're not seeing the detailed information on the map linked above, try the alternative map.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:17 AM on October 23, 2018

Through this map I learned that a number of the lynchings that occurred in the Monterey Bay area were the work of one individual and his mob of ranch owners. Later he made the mistake of shooting a white lady and was lynched himself. Now there's a restaurant named after him (with a rather whitewashed version of his vigilante activities). His name is not on the map, but given the fact he a lyncher more than a lynchee, I'm not sure it should be.
posted by subocoyne at 4:09 PM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

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