Title

La Delicatesse: Everything Good and Proper The Mentality Concerning Women Murderesses in America, 1890-1920

Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Artist Statement

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Americans were not sure how to deal with women committing murder. This was a phenomenon that had occurred previously, but had never been made public. With the prevalence of major newspaper reporting and the increase of yellow journalism, the delicate image of women was called into question. The traditional image of a Victorian woman was in revolution. This paper reconstructs the social perspective of “murderesses” by using primary source accounts from historical newspapers. Through three case studies from around the country, the patriarchy of the 19th century comes into clear focus through the socially acceptable image of the perfect woman and femininity, even in suspected murderers. The analysis includes the overall mentality of the populace, a section on the history of three notorious women—Lizzie Borden, Emma LeDoux, and Belle Gunness—and the reactions to their crimes. This paper demonstrates the power of patriarchal ideas during a period of considerable social change.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211 A/B

Start Date

1-5-2010 9:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2010 12:00 PM

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May 1st, 9:00 AM May 1st, 12:00 PM

La Delicatesse: Everything Good and Proper The Mentality Concerning Women Murderesses in America, 1890-1920

DeRosa University Center, Room 211 A/B

At the turn of the nineteenth century, Americans were not sure how to deal with women committing murder. This was a phenomenon that had occurred previously, but had never been made public. With the prevalence of major newspaper reporting and the increase of yellow journalism, the delicate image of women was called into question. The traditional image of a Victorian woman was in revolution. This paper reconstructs the social perspective of “murderesses” by using primary source accounts from historical newspapers. Through three case studies from around the country, the patriarchy of the 19th century comes into clear focus through the socially acceptable image of the perfect woman and femininity, even in suspected murderers. The analysis includes the overall mentality of the populace, a section on the history of three notorious women—Lizzie Borden, Emma LeDoux, and Belle Gunness—and the reactions to their crimes. This paper demonstrates the power of patriarchal ideas during a period of considerable social change.