Murder by Gaslight Analysis

I chose to analyze the Digital History project called Murder by Gaslight. The webpage contains a plethora of murders and other crimes through 19th America, but the way to navigate through them is tricky. The crimes are told like they would be in a simple book but with enough detail from sources from the time period to make the reader imagine the happenings of the crime itself and the trial afterwards. Murder by Gaslight uses different links on the side bar to help the viewer navigate through the many cases, like year the crime took place or the specific crime you want to look for, such as death by abortion.

Murder by Gaslight is a mobile friendly website and, much like it’s web counterpart, it is a bit tricky to navigate. The compendium could be useful if the reader is looking for multiple cases for a study perhaps but if they are looking for a specific case, that might be a little more tricky. For example, I clicked on the ‘Adultery’ link and it brought me a number of Adultery murder cases from 19th century America, though there was no way to further edit down the search to just men or women if you needed just that. There are no links for the sources the author uses, he only labels the title of the article, the newspaper in which it appeared and the date; it is enough information to go to a library and research the article from the source. Though, on a good note, the headlining image, which is shared with the tab image, does an excellent job with immersing the reader into the time period where these crimes took place. All of the links that are one the side bar of the page work as they are meant to, even the ones where they open another table to pull up lyrics and a musical sheet for a murder ballad about the Meeks Family Murder.

The audience for this website seems to be those interested in the crimes it describes. Though on some cases, it does use words that may be unintelligible fort the common man. This is illustrated easily by the ‘Sin and Sorrow’ case written in the compendium, which uses the term ‘flagrante delicto’ meaning Delicious Crime in French. Even so, the language is simple enough for adults, college students, or anyone interested in the realm of 19th century crime.

The compendium doesn’t use any particular function that couldn’t be done in a print version; the author chooses to use only words and pictures of the incident it is describing. It is a simple design, not openly flamboyant, which is a good thing because it is describing some particularly triggering murders.

Wilhelm, Robert. “Murder by Gaslight.” Murder by Gaslight. Accessed September 09, 2017. http://www.murderbygaslight.com/.

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