Douglas Linder, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Are you intrigued by courtroom drama? Interested in the testimony, evidence, and press coverage of historical cases that shape our society today? With a few mouse clicks, you can read H.L. Mencken’s daily reports on the Scopes “monkey” trial along with trial transcripts, the Tennessee statute banning the teaching of evolution, and appellate court decisions. You can read John Brown’s courtroom address or see photographs of the “Scottsboro Boys” and their accusers.
This exceptional legal history website, created by Douglas Linder, a Law Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, covers more than thirty of the most prominent court trials in American history, including the seventeenth-century Salem Witchcraft trials; the eighteenth-century Boston Massacre trial, and nineteenth-century Amistad, Dakota Conflict, Johnson Impeachment, and Susan B. Anthony trials. Twentieth-century cases include the Sacco and Vanzetti, Scottsboro, Rosenberg, Mississippi Burning, and O.J. Simpson trials. There are also seven trials throughout world history, from the trial of Socrates to the Nuremburg trials.
Each trial site offers historical background, biographies of key figures, and relevant primary sources, including transcripts of testimony, media coverage, depositions, and government documents. Most cases also contain images, links to related websites, and a bibliography of scholarly works. There are links to biographies of five “trial heroes,” including Clarence Darrow, as well as a “Constitutional conflicts” site that offers seventy-five topics for class discussion, such as gay rights, student searches, and the electoral college.
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