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.

Nature and Patterns of Homicide in Eight American Cities, 1978 (ICPSR 8936)

Principal Investigator(s): Zahn, Margaret A.; Riedel, Marc


This dataset contains detailed information on homicides in eight United States cities: Philadelphia, Newark, Chicago, St. Louis, Memphis, Dallas, Oakland, and "Ashton" (a representative large western city). Detailed characteristics for each homicide victim include time and date of homicide, age, gender, race, place of birth, marital status, living arrangement, occupation, socioeconomic status (SES), employment status, method of assault, location where homicide occurred, relationship of victim to offender, circumstances surrounding death, precipitation or resistance of victim, physical evidence collected, victim's drug history, victim's prior criminal record, and number of offenders identified. Data on up to two offenders and three witnesses are also available and include the criminal history, justice system disposition, and age, sex, and race of each offender. Information on the age, sex, and race of each witness also was collected, as were data on witness type (police informant, child, eyewitness, etc.). Finally, information from the medical examiner's records including results of narcotics and blood alcohol tests of the victim are provided.

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


DS1:  Data File - Download All Files (5.722 MB)
SAS    SPSS    Stata    ASCII   
ASCII + SAS Setup    SPSS Setup    Stata Setup   
DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (0.184 MB)

ASCII + SAS Setup   

Study Description


Zahn, Margaret A., and Marc Riedel. NATURE AND PATTERNS OF HOMICIDE IN EIGHT AMERICAN CITIES, 1978. Compiled by Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency, and Corrections, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1994.

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

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


This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (79-NI-AX-0092)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    demographic characteristics, drug use, evidence, homicide, offenders, substance abuse, victims

Geographic Coverage:    California, Chicago, Dallas, Illinois, Memphis, Missouri, New Jersey, Newark, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tennessee, Texas, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1978

Date of Collection:   

  • 1979--1980

Universe:    Cases in the United States defined by each city's police department and medical examiner as homicide.

Data Type(s):    event/transaction data


Sample:    A purposive sample of eight cities was selected based on geographic region, population size, and whether their 11-year homicide trend lines followed or diverged from respective regional trend lines. Dallas, St. Louis, and "Ashton" diverged from regional patterns, while the other cities in the sample--Philadelphia, Newark, Chicago, Memphis, and Oakland--followed them. Within each city all homicide cases were coded, except in Chicago, where a 50-percent systematic random sample of homicide cases was drawn.

Data Source:

official records of the medical examiner and police department in each city

Extent of Processing:   ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   1988-10-25

Version History:

  • 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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