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. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_and_Loeb.
Bovsun, Mara. “90th anniversary of Leopold and Loeb’s horrific murder.” NY Daily News. May 18, 2014. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/thrill-kill-article-1.1796537
Hannon, Michael. “Leopold and Loeb Case (1924).” University of Minnesota Law Library. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://moses.law.umn.edu/darrow/trialpdfs/LEOPOLD_LOEB.pdf.