Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Chief Justice Shaw & the Parkman-Webster Murder Case
A new exhibit, Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: Chief Justice Shaw & the Parkman-Webster Murder Case,
is on display at the Social Law Library. The exhibit comprises archival materials donated from the Shaw family.
Boston Brahmin, Dr. George Parkman, left his house on the morning of November 23, 1849 and was never seen again. Suspicion fell on Professor John White Webster of the Harvard Medical School because he was the last to see Parkman on that fateful day.
One week after Parkman’s disappearance, bones and body parts were discovered by the Medical School’s janitor hidden away beneath the Professor’s laboratory. Webster was arrested and charged with the gruesome murder.
After the sensational 11-day trial, Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw declared Webster guilty of the murder of Dr. Parkman and sentenced him to death by hanging.
This trial attracted over 60,000 curious spectators and was one of the earlier cases to use forensic evidence. Chief Justice Shaw set a standard for proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt that earned him much praise and criticism from the people.
Come see this new exhibit during the month of October and browse our collection of books about forensic evidence, the Parkman-Murder case, and Lemuel Shaw!