National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Homicides in New York City, 1797-1999 [And Various Historical Comparison Sites] (ICPSR 3226) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

There has been little research on United States homicide rates from a long-term perspective, primarily because there has been no consistent data series on a particular place preceding the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which began its first full year in 1931. To fill this research gap, this project created a data series on homicides per capita for New York City that spans two centuries. The goal was to create a site-specific, individual-based data series that could be used to examine major social shifts related to homicide, such as mass immigration, urban growth, war, demographic changes, and changes in laws. Data were also gathered on various other sites, particularly in England, to allow for comparisons on important issues, such as the post-World War II wave of violence. The basic approach to the data collection was to obtain the best possible estimate of annual counts and the most complete information on individual homicides. The annual count data (Parts 1 and 3) were derived from multiple sources, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports and Supplementary Homicide Reports, as well as other official counts from the New York City Police Department and the City Inspector in the early 19th century. The data include a combined count of murder and manslaughter because charge bargaining often blurs this legal distinction. The individual-level data (Part 2) were drawn from coroners' indictments held by the New York City Municipal Archives, and from daily newspapers. Duplication was avoided by keeping a record for each victim. The estimation technique known as "capture-recapture" was used to estimate homicides not listed in either source. Part 1 variables include counts of New York City homicides, arrests, and convictions, as well as the homicide rate, race or ethnicity and gender of victims, type of weapon used, and source of data. Part 2 includes the date of the murder, the age, sex, and race of the offender and victim, and whether the case led to an arrest, trial, conviction, execution, or pardon. Part 3 contains annual homicide counts and rates for various comparison sites including Liverpool, London, Kent, Canada, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Annual Homicide Data for New York City - Download All Files (1 MB)
DS2:  Individual Homicide Data for New York City - Download All Files (1.2 MB)
DS3:  Annual Homicide Data for Comparison Sites - Download All Files (0.3 MB)
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Monkkonen, Eric. Homicides in New York City, 1797-1999 [And Various Historical Comparison Sites]. ICPSR03226-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2001. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03226.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (96-IJ-CX-0016 and SES-9422881)
  • National Science Foundation
  • University of California-Los Angeles. Academic Senate

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   crime statistics, death records, historical data, homicide, manslaughter, murder, nineteenth century, social change, twentieth century

Geographic Coverage:   Canada, England, Global, New York (state), New York City, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1797--1999

Date of Collection:  

  • 1985--1999

Unit of Observation:   Parts 1 and 3: Year. Part 3: Homicide incident.

Universe:   All homicides in New York City and various comparison sites between 1797 and 1999.

Data Types:   administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

A detailed list of the sources used to create these data files can be found in the Appendix to the codebook.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   There has been little research on United States homicide rates from a long-term perspective, primarily because there has been no consistent data series on a particular place preceding the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR), which began its first full year in 1931. To fill this research gap, this project created a data series on homicides per capita for New York City that spans two centuries. The goal was to create a site-specific, individual-based data series that could be used to examine major social shifts related to homicide, such as mass immigration, urban growth, war, demographic changes, and changes in laws. The researcher chose to focus on a specific geographic area because the composite national data did not provide the details needed for careful analysis. Data were also gathered on various other sites, particularly in England, to allow for comparisons on important issues, such as the post-World War II wave of violence.

Study Design:   The basic approach to the data collection was to obtain the best possible estimate of annual counts and the most complete information on individual homicides. The annual count data (Parts 1 and 3) were derived from multiple sources, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports and Supplementary Homicide Reports, as well as other official counts from the New York City Police Department and the City Inspector in the early 19th century. When there were discrepancies among sources, the principal investigator used the source giving the higher count, based on the assumption that missing information tends to bias toward an undercount. The data include a combined count of murder and manslaughter because charge bargaining often blurs this legal distinction. The following incidents were excluded from the counts: accidental homicides, infanticides, cases involving children under 5 except when evidence in individual cases made it clear that these were murders, women who died during the course of an abortion, riot victims, the killing of an offender during the course of an arrest, and legal executions. The individual-level data (Part 2) were drawn from coroners' indictments held by the New York City Municipal Archives, and from daily newspapers. Duplication was avoided by keeping a record for each victim. The estimation technique known as "capture-recapture" was used to estimate homicides not listed in either source.

Data Source:

(1) Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports and Supplementary Homicide Reports, (2) New York City Police Department, (3) New York City Inspector, (4) coroners' indictments, and (5) daily newspapers

Description of Variables:   Part 1 variables include counts of New York City homicides, arrests, and convictions, as well as the homicide rate, race or ethnicity and gender of victims, type of weapon used, and source of data. Part 2 includes the date of the murder, the age, sex, and race of the offender and victim, and whether the case led to an arrest, trial, conviction, execution, or pardon. Part 3 contains annual homicide counts and rates for various comparison sites including Liverpool, London, Kent, Canada, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco.

Response Rates:   Not applicable.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CB3226.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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