The Data and Its Challenges

T

he information contained in the database is based on the 1960s research of amateur historian M. Watt Espy from state Department of Corrections records, newspapers, county histories, proceedings of state and local courts, holdings of historical societies, and other listings of executions. In 1977, the University of Alabama offered their support of Espy's goal to document every legally sanctioned execution in the United States since 1608. Likewise, in 1984, the National Science Foundation provided a grant to codify the research.1 The version of the database that underlies this study extends this research into 2002.

Scholars Paul Blackman and Vance McLaughlin undertook an extensive quality assurance review of the Espy file in 2011 and found issues with the coding of information in the database. These included minor human-error data entry errors common to most freely available databases and discrepancies with the classification of information, including specifically the classification of crimes and occupations (the latter is not relevant to this study.) They found that certain types of executions were misrepresented. Military executions as well as those of pirates and Indians, they found, were under-represented in the database. Additionally, the database contains a British bias, they argue, ignoring executions prior to British settlement. The nature of my exploratory research, however, allows me draw very broad conclusions based on initial patterns and queries despite these issues.2 There will be no close reading of the information in this database without verification from external sources.

Fundamentally, the biggest potential gap in the information pertains to the difference between the number of individuals whose sentences were actually carried out as opposed to those who were pardoned, stayed, commuted, etc. It is impossible to tell in this database where circumstances prevented the execution. I have designated in the pages that follow other areas where further study is needed to understand and verify the trends. As with any good distant reading, this project raised more questions than it answered.

Breakdown of totals of women by race.

Afr. Am: 198
White: 138
Unknown: 21
Nat Am: 5
Hispanic: 3

Details

Details of all the executions of women, in chronological order.

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First NameLast NameCrimeMethodStateYear
JaneChampionUnknownHangingVA1632
MargaretHatchMurderHangingVA1633
DorothyTalbyMurderHangingMA1638
MaryLathamAdulteryHangingMA1643
Mrs.CornishMurderHangingME1644
MaryMartinMurderHangingMA1646
AliceBishopMurderHangingMA1648
MargaretJonesWitchcraftHangingMA1648
MaryJohnsonWitchcraftHangingCT1649
GoodwifeBassettWitchcraftHangingCT1651
KendallWitchcraftHangingMA1651
MaryParsonsWitchcraftHangingMA1651
ElizabethKnappWitchcraftHangingCT1653
AnnHibbensWitchcraftHangingMA1656
MaryDyerOtherHangingMA1660
RebeccaGreensmithWitchcraftHangingCT1662
MaryBarnesWitchcraftHangingCT1662
IsabellaYousleyMurderHangingMD1671
(lamb)MarjaArsonBurnedMA1681
Henry Mrs.LakeWitchcraftHangingMA1684
RebeccaFowlerWitchcraftHangingMD1685
JudithRoeMurderHangingDE1688
GoodyGloverWitchcraftHangingMA1688
SussanahMartinWitchcraftHangingMA1692
ElizabethHowWitchcraftHangingMA1692
SarahWildWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MarthaCarrierWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MaryParkerWitchcraftHangingMA1692
AliceParkerWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MaryEastleyWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MarthaCoreyWitchcraftHangingMA1692
AnnPudeaterWitchcraftHangingMA1692
WilmotReadWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MargaretScottWitchcraftHangingMA1692
BridgetBishopWitchcraftHangingMA1692
SarahGoodWitchcraftHangingMA1692
RebeccaNurseWitchcraftHangingMA1692
MurderHangingMA1693
ElizabethEmmersonMurderHangingMA1693
SusannaAndrewsConcealing BirthHangingMA1696
MurderHangingMA1698
SarahSmithMurderHangingMA1699
EstherRodgersMurderHangingMA1701
AnnTandyConcealing BirthHangingVA1702
(custis)SarahArsonHangingVA1705
(hallett)MurderBurnedNY1708
(vaninburgh)AbigailSlave RevoltHangingNY1712
(pels)SarahSlave RevoltHangingNY1712
BettyUnknownHangingMA1712
ElizabethGordonUnknownHangingVA1712
MargaretCallahanMurderHangingMA1715
(sherron)HagerMurderBurnedNJ1717
MurderBurnedNY1717
ElizabethMurphyMurderHangingPA1724
Slave RevoltHangingLA1730
CatharineBevanMurderBurnedDE1731
RebeccaChamblettConcealing BirthHangingMA1733
AliceRileyMurderHangingGA1735
PatienceSampsonMurderHangingME1735
ElizabethGreenleyMurderHangingVA1736
CatharineConnerHousebreaking-BurgHangingPA1737
(prudden)MurderBurnedVA1737
SarahChamberlainMurderHangingSC1738
CatherineGarrettMurderHangingCT1738
SarahSimpsonMurderHangingNH1739
PenelopeHenryMurderHangingNH1739
ElizabethTwopenceMurderHangingVA1739
ElizabethMazeMurderHangingVA1739
CatherineSullivanUnknownHangingNC1739
MargaretKerrySlave RevoltHangingNY1741
SarahHughsonSlave RevoltHangingNY1741
(randolph)LucyMurderHangingVA1742
(montague)EveMurderBurnedVA1745
EstherAndersonMurderBurnedMD1746
ElizabethRobinsonHousebreaking-BurgHangingPA1750
MargaretSextonMurderHangingDE1751
Unspec FelonyHangingVA1751
MarthaBassettMurderHangingMD1752
MaryPowellMurderHangingMD1752
SarahBrambleMurderHangingCT1753
(croft)ArsonBurnedSC1754
MaryMurrayUnknownHangingVA1755
(codman)PhillisMurderBurnedMA1755
ElizabethGraulMurderHangingPA1759
(fickling)PoisoningHangingSC1761
(sutton)NanUnknownHangingVA1763
(clapham)MurderHangingMI1763
(richards)PhoebeHousebreaking-BurgHangingPA1764
JaneEwingMurderHangingPA1765
ElizabethErwinMurderHangingPA1765
(rabour)RoseArsonHangingNC1766
CatherineKrebsMurderHangingPA1767
MarthaSharpMurderHangingVA1767
(wise)EstherMurderUnknownVA1767
RuthBlayMurderHangingNH1768
MaryKennedyMurderHangingPA1768
(knox)WinnyMurderHangingVA1769
(sands)DollyMurderBurnedWV1769
(ormond)MurderHangingNC1770
(ormond)MurderBurnedNC1770
(ward)MurderHangingNC1770
(harrison)JudithPoisoningHangingVA1772
(loftain)SallMurderHangingVA1773
CatherinePeppersMurderHangingVA1774
ElizabethMurderHangingPA1774
SusannahBrazierMurderHangingVA1775
AnnWyleyRobberyHangingMI1777
BathshebaSpoonerMurderHangingMA1778
(blount)EstherUnknownHangingNC1779
(bobbitt)PollMurderHangingVA1779
CatharineFisherMurderHangingPA1779
JennyMurderBurnedNC1780
SuckyArsonHangingPA1780
(sawyer)VioletArsonHangingVA1780
(copeland)PenelopeUnspec FelonyHangingVA1781
MollyGlassMurderHangingLA1781
(tyson)RoseMurderBurnedNC1783
(clark)MollUnspec FelonyUnknownVA1783
BarbaraStillwellMurderHangingNY1784
HannahPiggenConcealing BirthHangingMA1785
HannahOcuishMurderHangingCT1786
ElizabethWilsonMurderHangingPA1786
SarahKirkMurderHangingDE1787
AnnConnollyRobbery-MurderHangingSC1788
DineArsonHangingNJ1788
AbigailConverseMurderHangingMA1788
(braine)NellyArsonHangingNY1789
(fisher)CreeseArsonUnknownVA1789
RachelWallRobberyHangingMA1789
(marshall)MollUnspec FelonyHangingVA1791
(francis)DaphneMurderHangingVA1793
(travis)NellyMurderHangingVA1793
BetArsonHangingNY1794
DeanArsonHangingNY1794
(kirby)LucyMurderHangingVA1794
(randolph)ChloeMurderHangingVA1795
ArdenMurderHangingSC1795
(stanfield)MollMurderHangingVA1796
(milles)PollyMurderHangingVA1798
(robe)MillayArsonHangingWV1798
(gresham)AmeyMurderHangingVA1799
SarahClarkMurderHangingPA1799
(lafferty)ChaineyMurderHangingVA1800
ChloeMurderHangingPA1801
(smith)NanUnspec FelonyHangingVA1801
(lawson)ChasityPoisoningHangingVA1803
(jernegan)MurderBurnedNC1805
HannahMillerMurderHangingPA1805
PollyBarclayConsp to MurderHangingGA1806
(goodeFannyPoisoningHangingVA1806
(pentross)CharlotteMurderHangingVA1806
(morrasitty)SallUnknownHangingVA1806
(morriasitty)CreaseUnknownHangingVA1806
(holcomb)MollyMurderHangingTN1807
(rainey)PhoebeMurderHangingKY1808
(rhodes)NancyArsonHangingKY1808
MurderHangingTN1808
ElizabethMooreMurderHangingPA1809
(jackson)FloraMurderHangingVA1809
SusannahCoxMurderHangingPA1809
MaryColeMurderHangingNJ1812
(rumsey)MurderHangingKY1812
(tate)AmyMurderHangingVA1812
MaryAntoineMurderHangingNY1814
(shelton)ClaraMurderHangingVA1816
MargaretSeabornMurderHangingGA1817
EllenorGillespieMurderHangingKY1817
MargaretHoughtalingMurderHangingNY1817
(vaughan)CatyMurderHangingVA1818
(berkeley)SarahMurderHangingVA1818
MurderHangingTN1819
(barnes)ChaneyConsp to MurderHangingVA1820
EveMartinAccessory to MurderHangingTN1820
LaviniaFisherRobbery-MurderHangingSC1820
(baker)KittyMurderHangingMD1821
(daughtry)CeliaMurderHangingVA1821
(farris)PatMurderHangingVA1821
PeggyFactoMurderHangingNY1825
(gorman)PatsyMurderHangingAL1825
(stuckey)MurderHangingSC1825
(colter)RebeccaMurderHangingWV1825
(hanley)MollyMurderHangingVA1826
(ware)JudyMurderHangingVA1827
(long)MollyMurderHangingNC1828
(shield)NellyMurderHangingVA1828
(jones)JennyArsonHangingGA1829
CatharineCashiereMurderHangingNY1829
(green)AnnisAttempted MurderHangingVA1829
(lubbock)CindaArsonHangingGA1830
DinahMurderHangingKY1830
(insley)HennyMurderHangingMD1831
(bouligny)LucyPoisoningHangingLA1832
ElizabethFreemanMurderHangingNJ1832
(allen)ElizabethUnknownHangingVA1832
(dawson)RenahPoisoningHangingVA1832
(dawson)FannyPoisoningHangingVA1832
(wells)LucyMurderHangingWV1832
FrankieSilverMurderHangingNC1833
(grey)CassyMurderHangingKY1833
AureliaChasePoisoningHangingMD1833
UnknownHangingMS1833
(pond)MaryAttempted MurderHangingVA1833
(wheat)NellyMurderHangingVA1834
HannahHazelwoodMurderHangingKY1834
MaryAndrewsMurderHangingMO1834
(leblanc)ArsonHangingLA1835
(holley)MurderHangingAL1836
(holley)MurderHangingAL1836
(stevenson)FannyAttempted MurderHangingAL1836
(lumpkin)PhoebeMurderHangingVA1836
(harkins)DelseyUnknownHangingAL1837
(warren)BellaMurderHangingGA1837
(gorman)JaneMurderHangingLA1837
(mayse)LucindaMurderHangingVA1838
MaryMurderHangingMO1838
(risk)MarthaAttempted MurderHangingKY1839
(jones)UnknownHangingAL1840
(wilson)BetsyMurderHangingVA1840
(smith)MaryUnknownHangingAL1843
(beasley)NancyAttempted MurderHangingAL1844
EstherFosterMurderHangingOH1844
RosanKeenMurderHangingNJ1844
LaviniaBurnettMurderHangingAR1845
EmalineMurderHangingGA1845
ElizabethReedMurderHangingIL1845
(rabbeneck)PaulineAttempted MurderHangingLA1846
LucyMurderHangingLA1846
Valkenburgh Eliz.VanMurderHangingNY1846
MaryRunkleMurderHangingNY1847
(hamilton)LucyMurderHangingKY1848
MargaretteMurderHangingNC1849
(griffin)ElizaPoisoningHangingVA1849
(ezell)RobertaPoisoningHangingVA1849
(shepherd)PherebeMurderHangingAL1849
CicilyMurderHangingMS1850
MilyFoxPoisoningHangingLA1851
JuanitaMurderHangingCA1851
(mason)MahaliaMurderHangingVA1852
(champion)MollyAttempted MurderHangingVA1852
(depp)JaneMurderHangingVA1852
Jane (winstoWilliamsMurderHangingVA1852
AnnHoagMurderHangingNY1852
MargaretBucknerMurderHangingVA1853
JaneElkinsMurderHangingTX1854
(mckeller)MarthaArsonHangingAL1855
(frilvox)MelvaineMurderHangingLA1855
(newsome)CeliaMurderHangingMO1855
MinervaArsonHangingKY1856
(wilson)AnnaArsonHangingVA1856
(clarke)AmeliaMurderHangingVA1856
(norwood)MassyMurderHangingNC1857
(green)MurderHangingVA1857
(thompson)CatharineMurderHangingVA1857
(brothers)NancyAttempted MurderHangingVA1857
(green)MurderHangingVA1857
MaryTwiggMurderHangingPA1858
(musgrove)JaneMurderHangingVA1858
(hall)JennyMurderHangingVA1858
CharlotteJonesRobbery-MurderHangingPA1858
(dougherty)LucyMurderHangingTX1858
NancyMurderHangingAL1859
(shacklefor)AngelinaArsonHangingVA1859
(jones)JuneMurderHangingAL1860
(berry)FrancesPoisoningHangingKY1860
(croxton)AnnMurderHangingVA1860
(croxton)ElizaMurderHangingVA1860
AnnBilanskyMurderHangingMN1860
(jones)LizzieUnknownHangingAL1861
(witherspoon)RhodieMurderHangingSC1861
(witherspoon)SilvyMurderHangingSC1861
PaulaAngelMurderHangingNM1861
MaryNaylorMurderHangingMD1863
(butt)MargaretMurderHangingVA1863
(dillard)BetMurderHangingVA1863
(dillard)JaneMurderHangingVA1863
(dillard)SarahMurderHangingVA1863
ChipitaRodriguezRobbery-MurderHangingTX1863
(bantling)ElizaUnknownHangingAL1864
MarySurrattAccessory to MurderHangingDC1865
DeloresMooreMurderHangingAZ1865
AmySpainOtherHangingSC1865
MarthaGrinderMurderHangingPA1866
BridgetDerganMurderHangingNJ1867
LenaMillerMurderHangingPA1867
LucyPurnellMurderHangingMD1868
SusanMurderHangingKY1868
SarahBradleyMurderHangingDE1869
MaryWallisMurderHangingMD1871
SusanEberhartMurderHangingGA1873
AnnHuntMurderHangingGA1874
AlceeHarrisMurderHangingLA1875
EllenOsgoodMurderHangingGA1878
LucindaFowlkesMurderHangingVA1881
CatherineMillerMurderHangingPA1881
MargaretMeierhofferMurderHangingNJ1881
EllaMooreMurderHangingGA1882
MatildaCarterMurderHangingNC1882
LucindaTeasdaleMurderHangingSC1882
MargaretHarrisMurderHangingGA1883
BarbaraMillerAccessory to MurderHangingVA1883
EmelineMeakerMurderHangingVT1883
MatildaJonesRobbery-MurderHangingLA1885
RoxalanaDruseMurderHangingNY1887
PaulineMccoyMurderHangingAL1888
SarahWhitelingMurderHangingPA1889
MaryO'cammonUnknownHangingCA1890
KateMcshaneUnknownHangingCA1890
ElizabethPottsRobbery-MurderHangingNV1890
AnnaTribbleMurderHangingSC1892
MargaretHashleyAccessory to MurderHangingVA1892
MilbryBrownMurderHangingSC1892
CarolineShippMurderHangingNC1892
AdaHiersMurderHangingSC1893
AmandaCodyMurderHangingGA1895
FlorenceEnglishMurderHangingGA1895
MarySnodgrassMurderHangingVA1896
MarthaPlaceMurderElectrocutionNY1899
DoraWrightMurderHangingOK1903
MaryRogersMurderHangingVT1905
MaryFarmerRobbery-MurderElectrocutionNY1909
VirginiaChristianRobbery-MurderElectrocutionVA1912
PattiePerdueRobbery-MurderHangingMS1922
RuthSnyderMurderElectrocutionNY1928
AdaLeboeufMurderHangingLA1929
SilenaGilmoreMurderElectrocutionAL1930
EvaDuganRobbery-MurderHangingAZ1930
IreneSchroederMurderElectrocutionPA1931
AnnaAntonioConsp to MurderElectrocutionNY1934
JuliaMooreMurderHangingLA1935
EvaCooMurderElectrocutionNY1935
MayCareyMurderHangingDE1935
FrancesCreightonMurderElectrocutionNY1936
MaryHolmesRobbery-MurderHangingMS1937
AnnaHahnMurderElectrocutionOH1938
MariePorterConsp to MurderElectrocutionIL1938
JuanitaSpinelliMurderAsphyxiation-GasCA1941
ToniHenryRobbery-MurderElectrocutionLA1942
SueLogueConsp to MurderElectrocutionSC1943
RosannaPhillipsRobbery-MurderAsphyxiation-GasNC1943
MildredJohnsonMurderElectrocutionMS1944
BessieWilliamsRobbery-MurderAsphyxiation-GasNC1944
HelenFowlerRobbery-MurderElectrocutionNY1944
LenaBakerMurderElectrocutionGA1945
ShellieMckeithenMurderElectrocutionPA1946
CorrineSikesRobbery-MurderElectrocutionPA1946
RosaStinetteMurderElectrocutionSC1947
LouisePeeteMurderAsphyxiation-GasCA1947
MarthaBeckRobbery-MurderElectrocutionNY1951
EthelRosenbergEspionage-SpyElectrocutionNY1953
BonnieHeadleyKidnap-MurderAsphyxiation-GasMO1953
EarleDennisonMurderElectrocutionAL1953
BettyButlerMurderElectrocutionOH1954
DovieDeanMurderElectrocutionOH1954
BarbaraGrahamRobbery-MurderAsphyxiation-GasCA1955
RhondaMartinMurderElectrocutionAL1957
ElizabethDuncanConsp to MurderAsphyxiation-GasCA1962
VelmaBarfieldMurderInjectionNC1984
Karla FayeTuckerRobbery-MurderInjectionTX1998
JudyBuenoanoMurderElectrocutionFL1998
Christina MarieRiggsMurderInjectionAR2000
Betty LouBeetsMurderInjectionTX2000
MarilynPlantzConsp to MurderInjectionOK2001
Wanda JeanAllenMurderInjectionOK2001
AilleenWournosRobbery-MurderInjectionFL2002
Lynda LyonBlockMurderElectrocutionAL2002