Crime & Punishment in American History

This page collects various materials that I use in my course “Crime and Punishment in American History.”

Assigned Readings

Jan. 25: John H. Langbein, “The Criminal Trial Before the Lawyers,” 45 U. Chi. L. Rev. 263 (1978) (Hein Online link).

Feb. 10: John F. Tobin, “The Boston Massacre Trials,” 85 N.Y. St. B. J. 10 (2013).

Feb. 15: Daniel D. Blinka, “‘This Germ of Rottedness’: Federal Trials in the New Republic, 1789-1807,” 36 Creighton L. Rev. 135, 135-40, 160-82, 183-89 (2003) (Hein Online link).

March 16: Cara W. Robertson, “Representing ‘Miss Lizzie’: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden,” 8 Yale J. L. & Hum. 351, 351-404, 410-16 (1996) (Hein Online link).

April 6: Michael J. Klarman, “Scottsboro,” 93 Marq. L. Rev. 379 (2009).

Other Materials

John Howard, The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777).

Jeremy Bentham, Panopticon (1791).

Carrie Cropley, The Case of John McCaffary, 35 Wisconsin Magazine of History 281 (1952).

Historical U.S. Census data.

Video on attempted lynching of James Cameron.

Website for Stanford Prison Experiment (1971).

Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Prisoners 1925-81 (1982).

Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Race of Prisoners Admitted to State and Federal Institutions, 1925-86 (1991).

Cesare Beccaria, Of Crimes and Punishments (2d American edition, 1819; originally published in Italian in 1764).

Gustave de Beaumont & Alexis de Toqueville, On the Penitentiary System in the United States, and Its Application in France (Francis Lieber, trans. 1833).

Charles Dickens, “Philadelphia and Its Solitary Prison,” in American Notes: A Journey (1842).

Heather Ann Thompson, “Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History,” 97 J. Am. Hist. 703 (2010) (Oxford journals link).

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Izzy Einstein–Prohibition Agent Number One (2009).

Historical data on crime and arrests in Wisconsin:


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.