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HomeAmerican HistoryRethinking Race, Sex and Gender through 19th-Century Court Records — NYC Department...

Rethinking Race, Sex and Gender through 19th-Century Court Records — NYC Department of Records & Information Services


While emergent scholarship relating to Mary’s case makes distinctive use of evolutions within the area,[12] it not often appears to attract upon unique archival paperwork. Instead, students have largely relied on citations and paraphrasing earlier works. Both Nyongo and Snorton have had success in finding additional press reviews about Mary, which permit us to hint her life additional into the 1840s, however up to now, neither seems to have sought out extra in depth documentation from court docket, police, and different institutional data.

What could be discovered if we return to the archive with the brand new, expanded view of Mary in thoughts? It is with this query in thoughts that I started my internship on the Municipal Archives in February of 2022. Using press reviews, we discovered eleven extra arrests for Mary. These searches had been facilitated utilizing search phrases referring to gender and costume in on-line newspaper databases. Then (a la Gilfoyle) we regarded to the Municipal Archives for documentation. For most of the arrests, police recorded solely fundamental information, e.g. identify, date, place of arrest, the offense and end result. These don’t comprise the in depth documentation discovered within the felony prosecution recordsdata, however nonetheless present key insights into Mary’s experiences. For instance, the watch returns present that Mary was normally arrested for vagrancy and disorderly conduct, at night time, carrying ladies’s clothes. Sometimes the arrests occurred nearly instantly after she was launched from serving time for her final offense. Ultimately, we discovered that in complete, Mary spent over seven years of her life between 1842 and 1858 serving time in some of New York’s most infamous correctional services, together with Blackwell’s Island Penitentiary, the Tombs, and Sing Sing State Prison.

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