URAP

Addie Wilson

Husband Killers and the New Unwritten Law

Many people are familiar with the musical “”Chicago,”” which follows the stories of women imprisoned for murdering their (often abusive) husbands. In reality, however, a vast majority of women in 1920’s Chicago who killed their husbands were exonerated by all-male juries. This phenomenon has been described as the “”new unwritten law.”” Women in Chicago were protected from criminal convictions for husband-killing by an unofficial legal understanding that gave impunity to many who were accused of this particular crime. This summer, I will continue to investigate the origins of the new unwritten law and its implications for understanding modern law and legal positivism. My research will include searching for original news articles about women accused of killing their husbands, as well as exploring contemporary discussions of the new unwritten law and the challenges it posed (and continues to pose) for conventional legal thought.

Message to Sponsor

Thank you so much for your generous donation! I sincerely appreciate the ability to grow my skills as a researcher and to continue with a project that truly fascinates me. As an undergraduate who aspires to attend law school one day, I am very grateful for this opportunity to enhance my understanding of the law and of legal history. Through my work with Professor Constable, I have gained a wide variety of skills that will benefit both my academic and future legal career.
  • Major: Rhetoric
  • Mentor: Marianne Constable