s shown on the previous pages, results of initial exploratory analysis reveal interesting patterns regarding the volume, types, timing, and geography of capital cases involving women in the United States. I undertook this project primarily to identify potential cases (including the names, dates and state) of offenders for further research. Digital methodologies are valuable for helping to narrow voluminous potential subjects of historic research into a scalable endeavor and this project resulted in 365 potential cases for review (88 if you just count my home state of Virginia.)
That being said, the database raised more questions than it answered. Namely, an understanding of how many women navigated the trial process to be sentenced for their crimes, yet never saw the hangman or the electric chair remain to be seen. Trends in the chronological distribution of crimes is also puzzling. Why were highest concentrations of executions in the 1800s and early 1900s? How does immigration and population distribution affect the results? Geographically, the fact that the West/Midwest is void of any executions raises some red flags. In all of these cases, additional study is needed to obtain a clear picture of these patterns.
In conclusion, while there may be errors and omissions in the Espy file, applying digital methods to help uncover patterns in the data was a useful exercise. I intend to build on initial research to help explore gender norms as conveyed and manipulated through the various 19th and 20th century murder trials of female defendants..