Please note that this page has been updated in 2015 with new links throughout.
Criminal Trial Transcripts of the County of New York 1883–1927
The Lloyd Sealy Library’s Criminal Trial Transcripts collection includes the verbatim typewritten proceedings of 3,326 court cases on 425 reels of microfilm. The entire collection is searchable on our digital index. Less than 25% of the transcripts are digitally available as searchable PDFs, linked from our index; all are available by appointment in the library and remotely by interlibrary loan.
The collection mainly documents criminal trials held in the Court of General Sessions of the Peace, New York County (trials 1–371), Supreme Court of New York County (trials 372–4, but also other courts in New York County (which only includes Manhattan and the Bronx until 1914). The Crime in New York 1850–1950 project created a to all of the transcripts held on 425 reels of microfilm, and a small sample of 150 full-text transcripts held on 12 microfilm reels was digitized . We continue to add transcripts incrementally. Library patrons can now scan the microfilm on our digital microfilm readers to create their own PDFs. All of the transcripts are available by appointment at the Lloyd Sealy Library. Transcripts may also be ordered by reel number through your local library by interlibrary loan.
Images from the Lewis Lawes Papers were collected and created by Lawes while he was Warden of Sing Sing Prison, 1920–1941. These photographs are mostly portraits of prisoners, possibly all death row inmates later executed at Sing Sing Prison. The Lewis Lawes Papers are available to researchers by appointment in our Special Collections Room. Note that prior to incarceration some of these individuals were defendants in trials held in New York County, and appear also in our Trial Transcript Collection.
Images from the Burton Turkus Papers were collected by Turkus while he was Assistant District Attorney and Chief of the Homicide Division, Kings County (Brooklyn), 1940–1945. Digitized images include crime scene and ‘mug shot’ identification photographs and corresponding rap sheets. Most of the crime and criminals documents are connected with the notorious Murder Inc. crime syndicate. The Burton Turkus Papers are available to researchers by appointment in our Special Collections Room.
The Crime in New York 1850–1950 was the first digital project for Lloyd Sealy Library, with the support of a 2006 METRO-NY digitization grant. It originally featured digitized selections from Lloyd Sealy Library’s Special Collections documenting a century of the criminal history of New York City. Primary materials documenting the investigation, arrest, judgment and incarceration of many famous and unknown criminals in New York City.
The original Crime in New York 1850–1950 Trial Transcripts project created a web index and a digitized 12 microfilm reels, making a small sample of 150 transcripts available full-text. Access to the index and transcripts is still provided through a customized mSQL database.
The original Crime in New York 1850–1950 Image Collection project provided selected photographs digitized from the The Papers of Lewis Lawes and The Papers of Burton Turkus on a now-retired Greenstone platform. These digital images along with many others may now be found in our Library’s Digital Collections, running on a customized CollectiveAccess platform.
Completed in 2007, this project was directed and implemented by Ellen Belcher, Special Collections Librarian and Ellen Sexton, Reference Librarian, with assistance from Bonnie Nelson, Associate Librarian for Information Systems. The database and website customization was created by [former] library web-designers Maxim Rubis and Javeria Sharif and Thierry Breyette, digital consultant. The first batch of Trial Transcript microfilm digitization was carried out by iArchives.
For more on this project please read:
Belcher, E. & Sexton, E. (2008). Digitizing criminals: Web delivery of a century on the cheap.
OCLC Systems & Services: International Digital Library Perspectives, 24(2): 116–132.
The Crime in New York 1850-1950 digitization project was supported in part by funds from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) through the New York State Regional Bibliographic Databases Program.