Lynching and Vigilantism in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography

Lynching and Vigilantism in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography

Lynching and Vigilantism in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography

Lynching and Vigilantism in the United States: An Annotated Bibliography


Beginning with the 1760s, when lynching and vigilantism came into existence in what is now the United States, this bibliography fills a void in the history of American collective violence. It covers over 4,200 works dealing with vigilante movements and lynchings, including books, articles, government documents, and unpublished theses and dissertations. Following a chapter listing general works, the book is arranged into four chronological chapters, a chapter on the frontier West, a chapter on anti-lynching, and chapters on literature and art.


The extremes of human behavior can be fascinating, a relief from the banal. Perhaps that is one reason lynchings, whether performed by vigilantes purporting to uphold law and order or by transient mobs with various goals, pull our interest into their deadly history. Or we may pursue their study for scholarly purposes. For several years, my interest in lynchings has driven me along a fascinating and scholarly road. the result is this bibliography.

I have tried to produce an accurate book which will guide others along this path. I hope it is free of errors. Some article titles may appear at first glance to be wrong, as in the case of entry number 23, but my policy has been to list the title exactly as it appears in the journal--except in the case of titles that are all capitals in the periodical, which I have changed to capitals and lower case.

I have actually read most of the works listed, including the novels. However, in the desire not to remove a possibly valuable item from the record, I have in some cases included an entry for a book or article I could not find or did not peruse. Item 3498 by Nannie Burroughs is an example.

I end Chapter iii with the year 1881 and begin Chapter iv with 1882 because no statistics were kept on lynchings until the latter year. Then, the Chicago Tribune began keeping a record of lynchings on a year-to-year basis. Though the accuracy of the list has been questioned, it formed the statistical basis for many later studies of lynching.

Chapter vi, Frontier West, through 1890, ends with that year because it has become a commonplace of historical studies about the United States that the frontier ceased to exist at that time.

To the extent that my product is good, I owe a debt and much gratitude to library staffs at the following institutions: Montana State University-Billings (formerly Eastern Montana College), University of Oregon, University of Washington, University of Montana, Montana State University-Bozeman, Parmly Billings Library, Rocky Mountain College . . .

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