Trial Pamphlets Collection
From the Cornell University Law Library, the collection consists of pamphlets ranging in date from the late 1600s to the late 1800s. Trial pamphlets are contemporary accounts of trials that involved prominent citizens or that dealt with especially controversial or lurid topics. These pamphlets were produced quickly and inexpensively, and then sold on the street soon after the trial to a mass audience. The paper used to print the pamphlets was of a lower quality (ephemera) and the pamphlets were not bound. Thus, the pamphlets were not meant to survive much past their initial use. The content of the individual pamphlets varies widely. They were sold to an eager public as both a form of entertainment and as cautionary tales. Some include the details and illustrations of scandalous crimes and others include “execution sermons,” which were meant to serve as moral examples to the readers. Most include valuable information not available elsewhere, such as verbatim transcripts of testimony and arguments of counsel, depositions of parties, and illustrations or copies of evidence used in the trial.