Harvard’s Collection of Crime Broadsides Goes Online

Crime broadsides served as programs for the audiences that gathered to witness public executions in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain.

Woodcut from the Life, Trial, Confession and Execution of John Stallan

The Harvard collection of over 500 broadsides is one of the largest recorded and the first to be digitized in its entirety. The examples digitized here span the years 1707 to 1891 and include accounts of such crimes as arson, assault, counterfeiting, horse stealing, murder, rape, robbery, and treason. Many of the broadsides vividly describe the results of sentences handed down at London’s central criminal court, the Old Bailey, the proceedings of which are now available online.

Conservation and digitization of the broadsides was made possible by a generous grant from the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, a charitable endowment for the support of genealogical, local history, and other museum and library collections.

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