For a minute or two a primary source made Bobby Franks come alive


Yesterday, a parent came in to class to share some primary sources he had acquired. Since we are in the middle of our research project this seemed an awesome “show and tell,” especially because the items he was going to show were all connected to Leopold and Loeb. These two infamous murderers both lived in Hyde Park where our school is located and Richard Loeb actually graduated from our high school. The items all seemed to come from The Chicago Herald and included an original drawing of Richard Loeb by Dorothy Dick (see photo below); mug shots; what became a huge newspaper spread of the two defendants, their families, Bobbie Franks, and images of details of the investigation of the crime itself. Of particular interest was the phrenological report on both Leopold and Loeb (see photo below).

But probably the most evocative article was the paper with the handwriting of Bobbie Franks (the victim of Leopold and Loeb’s perfect murder scheme), perhaps notes for an essay or report of some sort, that described California’s abolishment of capital punishment (see photo at top). The parent said it wasn’t original but was some sort of exact reproduction produced at the time. At the base of the notes in pencil is “3 col Replate” which probably referred to the size the image of these notes would be in the paper. For the students it was evocative because Bobbie Franks was the same age as they are now and seeing perhaps some of his research, just as they are gathering their own, was a bit unsettling. What worked with this show and tell was that maybe for a minute or two, a primary source document actually made Bobby Franks come alive. And for just a few moments how eerie it felt that Bobbie Franks had been preparing a report about what Clarence Darrow himself would argue in keeping his two killers from being executed.

My transcription of the Bobbie Franks’ notes:

In California they have abolished Capital Punishment and they sentence their men to life imprisonment. The Convicts are now building a highway between Merced and the Yosemite Valley. They get $2 (?) a day and have to pay $1.00 for food the other $1.00 they can buy whatever they want with it.

plenty want to see executions.

War should be abolished is another question.


phrenological report on Leopold and Loeb



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3 Responses to For a minute or two a primary source made Bobby Franks come alive

  1. Anna says:

    Are you able to take closer pictures of the other images? They’re all really interesting.

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