“Most Horrible and Shocking Murders” Web Site

Hours and hours of reading fun:

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has launched a web site about Most Horrible and Shocking Murders:

Hundreds of years before television crime shows and Agatha Christie murder mysteries, people got their thrills from “true crime” tales told in murder pamphlets (…)

Michael Sappol, PhD, a historian in the NLM History of Medicine Division says the public has had an appetite for true crime ever since the invention of movable type in the mid-1400s. Murder pamphlets have been hawked on street corners, town squares, taverns, coffee houses, newsstands and book shops for more than five centuries.

NLM has several hundred murder pamphlets in its collection. Sappol culled nearly 30 pamphlets from the late 1600s to the late 1800s for “Most Horrible and Shocking Murders.” (…)

While the murder pamphlets may have been the subject of intrigue and entertainment when they were published, they serve a different purpose today. For historians, the pamphlets shed light on society and the history of class, gender, race, the law, crime and religion, to name a few topics. The murder pamphlets in the NLM collection address cases involving forensic medicine and many cases in which doctors were either the victim or defendant.

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