Violent Femmes | Newberry

Violent Femmes

As part of her study of feminine crime in turn-of-the-century Chicago, Newberry Graduate Scholar in Residence Rachel Boyle scoured more than 200 boxes of 100-year-old court records, collecting information on every homicide involving a female suspect she could find. Faced with a bounty of data about arrests and convictions, she plotted these crimes onto historical maps of the city to make sense of her findings. In this episode of “Shelf Life,” we talk with Rachel about her research and the larger conclusions she was able to draw about society’s response to criminal women in the past, as well as today.

Violent Femmes by Shelf Life, from the Newberry Library

Show Notes

1:58 – Where are the women in the violent subcultures of industrial, turn-of-the-century Chicago?

2:56 – How Rachel used city records and other documents to find the women she wanted to study.

7:22 – The criminal cases Rachel found and her methods for managing and organizing the information she uncovered.

9:45 – Mapping crimes spatially and chronologically, and the conclusions Rachel was able to draw by visualizing her data on a map.

13:59 – Does the rhetoric of Progressive-era reform correspond or clash with the actual state of crime in Chicago at this time?

15:27 – How can Rachel’s work be used to shed light on notions of crime and criminality today?