Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Research Proposal

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The author notes, "Crime news itself emerged as a distinct aspect of urban reporting; it grew with the penny press and rapidly became a mainstay of these urban dailies."

These journalistic accounts of the murder kept it alive throughout the city, but also led to many fictional accounts of the murder, including a story by Edgar Allen Poe, who supposedly "solved" the mystery of who killed Mary in his story.

Srebnick also uses Mary's murder to paint a disturbing picture of New York culture at the time. People may think that the mid nineteenth-century was a much more serene time in history, but in reality, the culture was extremely violent. The author states, "Neighbors struck, bit, and hit each other; they tore at noses and ears and hair. Generally, however, the fights did not result in death."

She shows how attitudes about crime altered the criminal justice system and helped keep an attitude of fear prevalent among the people. She notes, "The Rogers murder was a particularly useful device in fostering hysteria over crime and social disorder."

This is a very different view of society that most people think of today, and it shows violence has always been prevalent in many parts of the country.

The author's argument seems to fit perfectly with this book. She attempts to show how New York City was growing and changing in the mid nineteenth-century, and how Rogers' murder fit into that growth and change. Essentially, she uses her research and her knowledge to illustrate her argument with several aspects of culture, including literature, journalism, violence, and sexual conduct.
She also indicates that New York was changing radically at the time, and not just in population. Mores and social conduct was changing, the ethnic base of the city was changing, and immigration from the country to the city was on the rise. Young women like Mary Rogers were entering the city, attempting to make a living, and changing the role of women in society. The fact that Mary and her mother ran a boardinghouse and worked for a living indicates how radically society was changing at the time. The book, however, does seem to stray from time to time, and it seems as if to truly cover everything the author wanted to cover, it could have been longer, and gone into more detail. It also seems to stray from topic when it discusses the literary aspects of the story, such as when the author dissects the Poe version of the story, and then goes off to compare that to his story "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." They may have commonalities, but it seems that is straying a little to far from the main argument of the book.


Srebnick, Amy Gilman the Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Amy Gilman Srebnick the Mysterious Death of Mary Rogers: Sex and Culture in Nineteenth-Century New York. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995,….....

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