W&M Libraries Blog

A handwritten letter, dated November 18, 1840, from Ann Galt in Norfolk, Virginia to her brother William at UVA. She begins her letter by lamenting "the great loss to the college," the murder of Professor Davis.
August 28, 2019

Today's post, written by Tracy Melton '85, member of the William & Mary Libraries Board of Directors, considers the words we use to describe crime and death in archival work. Read on to learn more about a nineteenth-century fatality recounted in the Galt Papers (Mss. 78 G13). 

A summer 2019 search of the Special Collections Research Center’s manuscripts and archives database found zero “homicides” but sixty-seven “murders.”

Why the overwhelming preference for one keyword over the other? There are specific reasons—for example, the use of “murder” in the criminal...

Previous Posts

Jun 2019

May 2019

  • Edmund Mitchell daguerreotype
    May 28, 2019
    A daguerreotype of a young Baltimore merchant, the first victim of a bitter, homicidal political era, resides in the Special Collections Research Center in Swem Library—a ghostly message from the past.
  • May 14, 2019
    The Reverend Curtis W. Harris is best known for his role in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the Civil Rights organization founded by Martin Luther King, Jr., though he has not been studied closely by historians.

Apr 2019

Mar 2019

Feb 2019