Tag Archives: Crime and Justice

New York Exposed: The Lexow Committee


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new-york-exposed-book-coverDaniel Czitrom’s new book New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal that Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford University Press, 2016) offers a narrative history of the Lexow Committee, which the author considers the first major crusade to clean up Gotham.

Czitrom tells this story within the larger contexts of national politics, poverty, patronage, vote fraud and vote suppression, and police violence. The effort to root out corrupt cops and crooked politicians morphed into something much more profound: a public reckoning over what New York had become since the Civil War. Continue reading

Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award Announced


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Tierra Krivohlavek, Tamisha Krivohlavek, Austin Harms, Ambers Sims and Barry JurgensenAs a result of their efforts and accomplishments with the Walk Forever Free campaign, five Arlington High School students and teachers in Arlington, Nebraska will receive the 2016 Frederick Douglass Human Rights Award from Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives (FDFI).

Tierra Krivohlavek, Tamisha Krivohlavek, Austin Harms, Ambers Sims and Barry Jurgensen, the five award winners, were all instrumental in the Walk Forever Free campaign as were other students, teachers, administrators and citizens along the way. The award was presented by Robert J. Benz, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of FDFI and its President and Co-Founder, Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., on November 16th at an Arlington High School assembly. Continue reading

Dramatic Murder Tour at Historic Cherry Hill


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Cherry HillOn Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29, Historic Cherry Hill will present a dramatic tour reenacting the infamous 1827 murder that occurred at the Cherry Hill mansion.

The public is invited to relive the experiences of those who were at Cherry Hill on the evening of May 7, 1827, when a farmhand murdered a member of the household. The tour will investigate the scene of the crime and the differing perspectives of those who witnessed the events of that fateful night. Actor James Keil will appear as murderer Jesse Strang, bringing to life his violent act, and divulging his motives, including a romantic attachment to his victim’s wife. The murder resulted in two sensational trials and Albany’s last public hanging. Continue reading

Cayuga Museum: Exploring Prison through Film Series


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20,000 years in sing singThe Cayuga Museum will host a new film and guided discussion series titled “Exploring the Prison through Film: A Journey with Dr. Lucien Lombardo.” The series will show four films, each exploring a different theme within the context of imprisonment. Each film will be screened and then followed with a conversation guided by Dr. Lucien Lombardo, who will place the themes of the film in context in penal history.

The series begins on Tuesday, October 18 at 6 pm with the 1932 film “20,000 Years in Sing Sing,” starring Spencer Tracy and Bette Davis. Exploring the theme of managing a prison, this film was loosely based on an influential book by Lewis Lawes, Warden of Sing Sing. Scenes from the movie were filmed at Sing Sing, using real prisoners as extras. Continue reading

Pirates & Pirate Nests in the British Atlantic World


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ben_franklins_worldPirates are alive and well in our popular culture. Thanks to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and television shows like Black Sails, we see pirates as peg-legged, eye-patch wearing, rum-drinking men.

But are these representations accurate? What do we really know about pirates?

In this episode of the Ben Franklin’s World podcast, Mark Hanna, an Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and author of the award-winning book Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, (UNC Press, 2015) helps us fill in the gaps in our knowledge to better understand who pirates were and why they lived the pirate’s life. You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/099

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The Double Life of Father Schmidt


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father hans schmidtOn September 5, 1913, Mary Bann, of Woodcliff, New Jersey, and a male companion, were walking near an abandoned dock near the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, when she spotted a bundle resting near the riverbank. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine, and fairly large in size. Though her companion wished to dissuade her from getting near it, Mary had a stubborn mind, thus she hiked down to the side of the river and grabbed the package. She untied the string, unfurled the brown paper and the newspaper under it, and was soon shocked by the sight: it was the upper torso of a young woman. Her companion quickly hurried to find a policeman. Continue reading

Dannemora Escapee Jack Williams: At First, Too Big to Succeed


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DannPicketWall1880The one-year anniversary of the infamous Dannemora prison break recently passed, so here’s the story of an inmate linked to a pair of unusual breakouts, excerpted from my book, Escape from Dannemora.

Despite media stories claiming early on that Richard Matt and David Sweat were the first-ever escapees from Clinton Prison, some in the past did it in even more spectacular fashion, and overall, hundreds managed to escape under various circumstances. Among them was Jack Williams, a participant in two Clinton exits involving unusual components featured in no other Dannemora escapes. Continue reading

The North Country Man Who Threatened A President


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P1JosephDoldoWhen presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.

It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.

Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. Continue reading