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The Chicago Historical Homicide Project: 1870-1910

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Leigh Bienen, senior lecturer in the School of Law at Northwestern University, is the director of the Chicago Historical Homicide Project. Working with her research team, Ms. Bienen examined primary source documents and police and court reports to create a compelling database of Chicago murders spanning the Chicago Fire through the first decade of the 20th century. The lecture will focus on the nature of Chicago murder, cases both famous and forgotten, and will juxtapose historic patterns of homicide with the modern day.

This lecture is part of “Crime in Chicago--A Contemporary and Historical Perspective.” This fall, the Chicago History Museum turns the spotlight on crime in Chicago, probing the historic linkage between street gangs then and now with a concentrated focus on “traditional” vs. “nontraditional” organized crime. Is the Chicago “Outfit” still relevant, and where does this criminal organization forged in the early years of the 20th century stand today? Do street gangs constitute the new face of organized crime? The three-part series will also examine 19th century Chicago homicide patterns and what it reveals about the city during its formative years.

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