The Contradictions of American Capital Punishment

By Franklin E. Zimring | Go to book overview

Appendix A
Statistical Materials on Lynchings
and Executions

This appendix reports on the origins and relationship between the two long-term lynching reporting systems used in Chapter 5, as well as the statistical analysis of state-level data from one of these samples.


The Lynching Samples

The Tuskegee Archives track all lynchings by state and race between 1882 and 1968. Their data come entirely from newspaper accounts. The definition used to categorize an act as a lynching was taken from the Van Nuys Anti-Lynching Bill, which stipulates that the victim had to be accused of a crime by three or more persons, was denied due process, and was killed as a result. The NAACP records track lynchings occurring between 1889 and 1918. Their sources include press accounts, reports from their own investigations, Tuskegee Institute records, and Chicago Tribune records. The main difference between the two samples is that the NAACP record includes some murders that occurred in the context of a riot, while the Tuskegee Archives leaves out riot deaths.

The rank order correlation (Table A.1) took each sample individually and assigned a ranking to each state according to the absolute number of lynchings for the time period under study: 1882 through 1968 versus 1889 through 1918. The state with the highest number of lynchings was assigned the number one, the second highest was assigned the number two, and so forth all the way down to the forty-fourth state. Each state ended up with two assigned rankings, one from each sample, based on where it fell in terms of total lynchings compared with other

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