Final Project Visualizations

It’s taken me a lot of thinking to find out what I wanted to do but I think I’ve figured it out. With me using the Chicago Homicide Database as one of my sources, the data there is great for making a bar graph for the gender and races of those who have successfully received NGRI, short for Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, verdicts. The hardest thing about using this visualization is trying to figure out what colors for the bars are the best for it. For right now, I’ve put Whites as red to emphasize the increased amount of them compared to Blacks and the Unknown race. I’ll need to decide what the other two should be before the project is due.

For my second visualization, I wanted to use a Story Map to bolster my argument that Leopold and Loeb were not insane to the degree that they claimed to be. The information for this Story Map would be from the University of Minnesota Law Library pdf file that brings together a lot of information about the Leopold and Loeb trial. Using the Story Map, I wanted to show the degree to where they planned their kidnapping and murder scheme. I kept to the same color palate as my midterm timeline to make it look like an old time movie; a colored cover with the rest of the slides being a grey-ish color.

Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017.

“Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930.” Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930 :: Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930. Accessed November 08, 2017.

Final Project Research Question

Research Question: Were Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb actually insane or were they following an established precedent of white men receiving Not Guilty by reason of insanity verdicts in the 1920s?



“LEOPOLD AND LOEB IN THE ARCHIVES.” Leopold and Loeb Artifacts, University Archives, Northwestern University Library. Accessed November 08, 2017.

This archive contains the psychiatric evaluations of both Leopold and Loeb along with the typed up confession statements of both young men. This source would be incredibly useful in visualizing why they, at first, decided to go for a Not Guilty plea.

“Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930.” Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930 :: Homicide In Chicago 1870-1930. Accessed November 08, 2017.

Database that holds the 11,800+ murders in Cook County Chicago along with the murders that received Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity verdicts. This source shows the different races, genders etc. and the crimes that they were able to walk away from.


Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017.

The University of Minnesota Law program compiled a large amount of information about the Leopold and Loeb case in order to bring different parts of the trial all together. It contains a large section about the psychiatrists brought in from both sides to examine the defendants’ mental states.

Chicago Homicide Project Database Research

The Chicago Homicide Project is absolutely huge! Maneuvering through the large number of cases was difficult but finding a question to ask of it is not. Using the database, I wanted to find out the number and kind of crimes that successfully received ‘Not Guilty by reasons of Insanity’ verdicts in the 1920’s. After lots of deleting of rows, I narrowed the database down to only eight people, two women and six men. The most important thing that I wanted to find out which race – white, black etc. – was the one that got away with their crimes with the most. I figured before I even started it was going to white men who had the most and I wasn’t disappointed; out of the the eight successful ‘Not Guilty by reason of insanity’ pleas, four of them were white males. This is interesting to me as the case I have researched for over a month, Leopold and Loeb, had the original plea of ‘Not Guilty by reason of insanity’ before Clarence Darrow changed it to Guilty to avoid the Death Penalty that Prosecutor Crowe wanted.

Race and Gender Chart

Pulling together the Timeline

A Timeline is one of the many ways to illustrate the passing of chronological events. Unfortunately, finding events that would both illustrate the entirety of the Leopold and Loeb case but still keep it brief for the sake of the modern day attention span is a little more difficult. Where I want to start though is the crime itself and I have a map of the crime itself that I can link to the timeline for one of the beginning events. This was the event that started everything so I will most likely use this as the first point on my timeline.

Map of the day Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb kidnapped and killed Robert ‘Bobby’ Franks.

The next event I want to illustrate is the day they were arrested, May 31st, 1924, and the image that would illustrate this the best would the an image of Nathan Leopold’s horn-rimmed glasses, the object that led the police straight to them. As there was only one distributor of the particular hinge, it was a very important discovery in solving the case.

The horn-rimmed glasses that sealed Leopold and Loeb’s fate.

The next event in my timeline would have to be setting the day of their trial which Maurine Watkins wrote would be August 4th in her article in the Chicago Tribune on June 12, 1924. Their initial plea was ‘Not Guilty’ but after some discussion with their lawyer, Clarence Darrow, it would soon change to guilty to avoid the Death Penalty, which Darrow was an outspoken opponent of.

Watkins, M. (1924, Jun 12). LEOPOLD, LOEB TRIAL SET FOR MONDAY, AUG. 4.Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from

Possibly one of the last events, though that is up for debate at the moment, would be the sentencing hearing of Leopold and Loeb. Even though they were sentenced to life and an additional 99 years on September 10th, 1924, Leopold and Loeb walked out of the courtroom smiling as they had avoided the ‘noose’, the death penalty.

Special to The New,York Times. (1924, Sep 11). FRANKS SLAYERS GET LIFE IMPRISONMENT; YOUTH AVERTS NOOSE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

Wikipedia and Dr. Linder Comparison

Even though Wikipedia is not a truly reliable source, as others can update it at any time, it is always an interesting place to start when you don’t know much about the subject. When I began my research on Leopold and Loeb, my first stop was the Wikipedia page on the two. The page is lengthy, containing multiple sections that can be narrowed down to: early life, their shared beliefs that brought them to perform this crime, the trial itself, their death and the popular culture items that have come about through their influence. The primary sources I have found thus far do agree with the ‘Confession’ section of the article when it describes the back and forth blaming of the other person on who actually struck the killing blow on Bobby Franks. The site does put a little more emphasis on the ‘sexual’ relationship that Leopold and Loeb had that I have not been able to truly identify through any sources that I found.

On Dr. Linder’s site, there is a plethora of information about the trial. One thing that I have noticed reading the trial account on the site is that the relationship between Leopold and Loeb is slightly different from the Wikipedia page. Dr. Linder states that Loeb was the one to truly instigate the crime more than Leopold, who only complied “to please Dick.” The Leopold and Loeb Wikipedia page, and another secondary source that I found, explained that the car the young men used to kidnap Bobby Franks was a rental car under an alias of Leopold, a ‘Morton D. Ballard’; the Linder account doesn’t make note of this, only saying that the car was a ‘Willys-Knight’. A lovely thing that Dr. Linder has on his site is the many pictures that he has littered throughout the site, ranging from a map of where the murder took place to Leopold being released from prison 32 years later.

“Leopold and Loeb.” Wikipedia. September 27, 2017. Accessed September 29, 2017.

“Leopold and Loeb.” Famous Trials. Accessed September 29, 2017.

Primary Source Scavenger Hunt

This is are some of the primary sources that I found for our project:

Watkins, M. (1924, Jun 12). LEOPOLD, LOEB TRIAL SET FOR MONDAY, AUG. 4.

Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from

  • This article details the beginnings of the Leopold and Loeb trial, when the original plea from the two was ‘Not Guilty’. Watkins carefully describes where the two young men were looking when they arrive in the court room and their pompous attitudes towards the entirety of the court scene.


 The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945) Retrieved from

  • An article from Atlanta that describes the ‘similar’ stories of the kidnap and murder of Bobby Franks; each of the suspects declared that the other one was the one to strike the killing blow.

History 390 Scavenger Hunt

Question 1: I went to an advanced Google search, searching ‘Unsolved Murders in New York in 1845’ with an additional word being ‘abortion’. I found an article about Edgar Allen Poe writing a short story, called ‘The Mystery of Marie Roget’, about Mary Rogers, a young woman murdered in New York and whose case remains unsolved. Based on the Smithsonian article I found, her death was first attributed to gang violence but on a witness’ death bed, was thought to be receiving an abortion from a young physician and passed away. Premature birth, an early term for abortion, was considered especially dangerous since any mistake can lead to death, like in the climax of the musical Spring Awakening.

Question 2: This time the advanced search didn’t help too much with this one as the main search managed to help me find something. A website called ‘The Vintage News’ had an article about Anne Bonny and her partner Mary Read. Both women on the high seas, these two women would let nothing get in their way. Once they were captured by authorities, the two managed to escape the hangman’s noose by claiming they were pregnant. This kind of plea had to do with religion, as the sins of the parents weren’t passed down to their children. This saved the both of them but Mary Read wouldn’t live long enough to see a long happy life.

Question 3: Virginia built their electric chair in 1908 and the one woman who was executed by it was Virginia Christian. When she was 17, Virginia murdered her boss and on April 16,1912, Virginia was strapped to the chair and electrocuted to death.

Leopold and Loeb Research Beginnings

Picking out the subject can be easy but it can quickly be made more difficult when research on the topic can be scarce. There can be a plethora of information of simply nothing at all and that can cause some frustration for researchers.

The trial that interests me, and may use for the main project, is the case of Leopold and Loeb from the 1920s. To begin the search and find the bare bones information, I always go to Google first. It is typical for Google to have many different websites during a search, many of them simply a small discussion of the crime, or whatever you are looking for, and a bunch of pictures. The first link, as usual, is the Wikipedia page labeled ‘Leopold and Loeb‘. The page describes the crime and even the complete aftermath of both Leopold and Loeb all the way to both of their deaths, 1971 and 1936 respectively. Even with this information, Wikipedia is not the best source to be trusted, as it can be updated by any person that comes across it, so I continue on.

I then found a New York Daily News article from 2014 that commemorated the 90th anniversary of the Leopold and Loeb killing. It is heartbreaking for me to say this but the Wikipedia article was more emotional than this news story. While it did bring some interesting information to light, like the possibility of both boys to be ‘lovers’, it simply painted them as cold-hearted killers. The article didn’t even have anything written about some of the things that both men did while they were in prison and then when Leopold was released over 30 years later. It is interesting but it is emotionless, like a bad piece of propaganda.

One of the next place I look is to try and find the court transcript of the trial. From reading the other sources I found, the defense attorney for both boys, Clarence Darrow, gave a 12+ hour conclusion speech. Is that true? I couldn’t find a trial pamphlet like other trials had, I found a pdf file that had many new pieces of information about the trial; even going into details about information ‘stolen’ from Clarence Darrow’s office. The author uses a multitude of sources to recreate the time before the crime and into the trial itself. While it isn’t a full word for word account, it is still a valuable source because it combines the information from many different sources and tells the story of what happened quite effectively.

Based on my readings so far, I would say that I know a lot more than I did before about the Leopold and Loeb trial. The sources I found don’t leave me with too many questions but only the overwhelming feeling of disgust and pity for both young men for what they did and for their lives after being sent to prison. If I were to do this again, I probably would have still started with Google but I would have tried to use more of the databases provided by the university. Using them, I probably could have found some primary sources but with the year of the crime, that may be difficult as well.

“Leopold and Loeb.” Wikipedia. September 05, 2017. Accessed September 15, 2017.

Bovsun, Mara. “90th anniversary of Leopold and Loeb’s horrific murder.” NY Daily News. May 18, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2017.

Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017.