The Victims

Let’s discuss female victims in the Chicago Homicide data set. From 1900 to 1930, 2027 homicides were reported of women in the city. That makes 20.6% of victims of murder in this time frame were women. That totals to 2027 homicides or deaths compared to the remaining 7830 which also accounts for 195 cases where the gender of the victim was unknown.

Chicago Courthouse. (DPLA)

The first variable to look at in murder is usually the method of homicide and characteristics of the homicide overall. When women were the victim of homicide, it was either intentional to the point where it was a felony murder or accidental. Following those categories is either intentional or unintentional manslaughter with suicide, infanticide, and unknown being the smallest percentages.

Having this information as well as more details about each death, car accidents make up 22.7% of female deaths at the time which makes the data showing equal rates of accidents and murder slightly more reasonable.

Looking at the relationships between the female victim and the defendants is just as important when trying to see a narrative behind these murders. The spread between the victim and defendant being married (25.4%), acquaintances (24.3%), or strangers (25.6%) is incredibly similar with relationships considered “intimate” or familial being the least likely at 3.9% and 5.5% respectively. However, 15.2% of the female homicides have no known relationship in the statistics which somewhat damages the overall analysis.

One of the more drastic statistics found in the database was that the defendant in a woman’s murder was going to be a man 84.1% of the time. A preconceived notion I had when beginning this project was that many of the deaths would be attributed to spousal quarrels and while that part is wrong considering the data previously stated, the sentiment that a man with some form of relationship to a woman being responsible for her murder holds true.

A part of the data I was expecting to find when looking at female victims was abortion, and I did end up confirming that suspicion. When looking at homicides that were given a specific circumstance, the third highest (at 296 cases out of 1684 deaths) was illegal abortions. While 17.5% doesn’t seem incredibly significant at first glance, the fact that it rivaled car accidents and domestic violence is very interesting and also slightly disheartening.

Lastly, I want to discuss certain crimes that seemed to have escaped women from 1900 to 1930 in Chicago. According to the Chicago Homicide database, women were not victim to organized crime (aside from 9 cases involving the Blackhand) as well as riots and labor disputes (5 cases and 1 case respectively). Brawls and Fighting – aside from what was considered domestic violence – also seemed to not involve women.

Many of the deaths reported for women revolve around their home and relationships, such as family quarrels, jealousy, and previously mentioned domestic violence. That violence within the home and deaths caused by illegal abortion paint a depressing image for women in Chicago at the time.