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John Jay College of Criminal Justice
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Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Published research from our Criminal Trial Transcripts Collection

A selection of published reserach

From the Fall 2014 newsletter

The most popular collection in our Special Collections remains the Criminal Trial Transcripts of New York 1883–1927. These 3,326 transcripts record court proceedings in NY County (Manhattan and The Bronx). Most of the trials (numbering 2,700) were heard in the Court of General Sessions 1887-1927, which was a lower criminal court. We received this collection from the New York County Clerk’s office back in 1972. In 1983-84, we received an NEH grant to index and microfilm the collection, which made the transcripts available by interlibrary loan on 425 microfilm reels.

In 2006, as part of our Crime in New York 1850-1950 grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council, we made the index available online and began digitizing selected transcripts in 2006. In 2012, we obtained a digital microfilm reader/scanner which allows patrons to create their own PDFs of a trial from the microfilm. We have recently digitized transcripts relating to abortion and “White Slavery” to support the research of Library faculty members. We plan to continue to digitize transcripts with the support of small grants. Sometime soon the digitized transcripts will move over from our old Crime in New York 1850-1950 site to our new Digital Collections.

The great aspect of this collection is the growing list of publications generated from research in this collection, whose contents are often requested by interlibrary loan. There are a lot more research topics in these 3,326 transcripts and students at John Jay and elsewhere are often assigned to read a transcript and research the case in classes related to New York City crime history.

Browse the transcripts that are currently digitized »

For more on our trial transcripts, other transcript collections at other repositories and all our Special Collections see our Special Collections Guide, or contact Dr. Ellen Belcher. Listed here are a few books and articles generated from research in this collection.

Arons, Ron. (2008). The Jews of Sing Sing: Gotham Gangsters and Gonuvim. Fort Lee: Barricade Books. Stacks - HV6194 .J4 A76 2008

Used many trial transcripts in the John Jay Transcript Collection as resources for this book.

Brooks, Tim and Richard Keith Spottswood. (2004). Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919. University of Illinois Press.  Available as an e-book (CUNY use only)

Chapter three uses The People vs. George V. Johnson (our trial number 183) as a resource.

Bunk, Tobin. (2014). Poisoning the Pecks of Grand Rapids: The Scandalous 1916 Murder Plot. History Press (expected soon at John Jay Library).

Used People vs. Arthur Warren Waite (our trial number 3241 as a resource for this book.

Nancy C. Carnevale. (2010). A New Language, a New World: Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890-1945. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.  Avail. As an e-book (CUNY use only)

Used People v Calandra Biaggio (our transcript number 601, which is digitally available) and People vs. Dominick DeMasso (our transcript number 322)

Chauncey, G. (1994). Gay New York:  Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940.  New York: Basic Books. Stacks - HQ 76.2 .U52 N53 1994.

Used sodomy cases in the Court of General Sessions Transcripts at John Jay as a resource for this book.

Cole, Simon A. (2001). Suspect Identities: A History of Criminal Investigation and Fingerprinting. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Reserve Room - 3 hour loan - HV 6074 .C557 2001 Also available as an e-book (CUNY use only).

Used transcript of People v. Crispi (our trial number 176) as a resource in this book.

Critchley, David.  (2009). The Origin of Organized Crime in America: The New York City Mafia 1891-1931. New York: Routledge. Stacks - HV6452 .N7 C75 2009

Used transcript of People vs. John Russomanno (our trial number 1856) as a resource for this book.

Donovan, B. (2005). “Gender Inequality and Criminal Seduction: Prosecuting Sexual Coercion in the Early-20th Century.” Law and Social Inquiry, 30 pp. 61–88.

Analyzes narratives of sexual consent and coercion in 15 criminal seduction cases as recorded in transcripts in the John Jay Collection.

Livingston, David. (2010). Arsenic and Clam Chowder: Murder in Gilded Age New York. Albany: Excelsior Editions, State University of New York Press. Stacks - HV6534 .N5 L58 2010

Detailed account of a murder for inheritance in a famous NYC family, and the trial (our trial number 70).

Mcillwain, Jeffrey Scott. (1997). “From Tong War to Organized Crime: Revising the Historical Perception of Violence in Chinatown.” Justice Quarterly 14, 1 pp. 25-52.

Used the Court of General Sessions, New York County transcripts amongst other primary and secondary documents in this study.

Murphy, Cait. (2010). Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe & Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age. New York, N.Y.: Smithsonian Books Stacks-KF355 .N4 M87 2010

This law firm regularly and famously represented defendants in the Court of General Sessions and many other NYC Courts.  Many of our transcripts were used as reference for this book.

Robertson, S. (2002). “Making Right a Girl's Ruin: Working-Class Legal Cultures and Forced Marriage in New York City, 1890–1950.” Journal of American Studies 36: pp. 199-230

Used several transcripts on sex crimes and marriage in the John Jay Collection as material for these and forthcoming studies.

Robertson, S. (2002). “Age of Consent Law and the Making of Modern Childhood in New York City, 1886—1921.” Journal of Social History 35.4 pp. 781-798.

Used several transcripts on sex crimes and marriage in the John Jay Collection as material for these and forthcoming studies.

Schoepfiln, Rennie B. (2002). Christian Science on Trial: Religious Healing in America (Medicine, Science and Religion in Historical Context) Johns Hopkins University Press. Available as an e-book (CUNY use only)

Used transcript of People vs. Willis V. Cole our trial number 1767 (case on appeal was 148 N.Y.S. 708) as a resource in this book. 

Ellen Belcher

More from the Fall 2014 newsletter »