Life History and the Historiography of Murder

Dr. Carolyn Strange
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In 1873, second-rate gothic novelist, Mansfield Tracy Walworth, died at the hand of his son, Frank, in New York City. Narrowly escaping the death penalty, the shooter served several years in prison and a mental asylum until his mother lobbied the Governor to pardon him. By the 1880s the story faded away, only to emerge a century later in a local history museum, donated by the murderer's daughter. This paper follows Robert Darnton's concept of "event history" and analyses this case through a life history approach.

Keywords: Murder, Historiography, Life history
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Dr. Carolyn Strange

Director of Graduate Studies, Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University

Carolyn Strange is an historian who has worked in interdisciplinary contexts, including the Centre of Criminology, University of Toronto, and the Centre for Cross-Cultural Research, Australian National University. Her books include Toronto's Girl Problem: the Pleasures and Perils of the City (1995); Qualities of Mercy: Justice, Punishment and Discretion (1996); Making Good: Law and Moral Regulation in Canada, 1867-1939(with Tina Loo); and True Crime, True North: The Golden Age of Canadian Pulp Magazines (2004) (also with Tina Loo). She has written extensively on murder, as well as on state punishment. In December 2005 she will convene a conference on "Pain and Death: Politics, Aesthetics and Legalities" at the A.N.U. (

Ref: H05P0693