Newspaper Articles on Crime, Arrests and Court

Mary Beeler, fortune teller and drinker, shows up frequently in the criminal pages. July 11, 1914 Daily Press.

Mary Beeler, fortune teller and drinker, shows up frequently in the criminal pages. July 11, 1914 Daily Press.

This page contains original, scanned newspaper articles covering the period from 1865 until 1920. The articles contained here concern crime, arrests,and  legal proceedings. These articles are placed here for reference and historic inquiry. No guilt should be inferred by the articles, indeed there are a number of stories where accusations turn out to be false, or shame by family association. For decades through the worst years of Jim Crow, the most often place that Ypsilanti’s African-Americans showed up in newspapers was in the crime section. The racist stereotype of blacks as prone to crime, and black men prone to sexual crime, has a long history and is on full display in these articles. While criminal activial was undoubtedly a too large part of life in the community, it is suggested that these articles be read with those cautions in mind.

The language and content of these stories, taken directly from period newspapers, is often derisive and racist. Though the articles are presented without commentary, readers are asked to pay attention to how reporting in the local press changes as the years progress and the gains won in the Civil War era are overturned. While many of these clippings are simply notices or seemingly minor, together they tell a grand story of the life of the community. Looking at what crimes are reported, how they are reported and how they are dealt with, tells us a great deal about the everyday reality of people’s lives.

The newspapers were accessed through microfilm at various libraries and archives. The Ypsilanti Public Library, The Ypsilanti Historical Society, The Library of Michigan as well as Eastern Michigan University’s Halle Library all have Ypsilanti newspapers.

They include: Ypsilanti True Democrat, 1864-1865. Changed to Ypsilanti Commercial  in 1865 and published, with some interruptions, until 1906. Ypsilanti Sentinel published from the 1840s until it merged to form the above Commercial in 1865.  Ypsilanti Daily Press, published from 1905-1920. The Ypsilantian, published from 1880-1912.

The date and publication of the article are in the title; for example 12dec1919press is December 12, 1919 Ypsilanti Daily Press, 4jul1897ian is July 4, 1897 Ypsilantian m and so on. Click on any thumbnail to cycle through a slide show of larger versions, which can be further enlarged and downloaded.

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