Century-old murder spawns books, movies, exhibit

Andrew Schiller

The famous architect Stanford White was shot and killed in 1906 at Madison Square Garden, a building he had helped design only 15 years before.

White’s murder and its aftermath were heavily sensationalized and later inspired novels, musicals, two feature films and “Trial of the Century: The Murder of Stanford White, A Centenary Exhibition,” which is currently open in the Department of Special Collections and Archives at the Kent State Library.

“The focus of the crime collection here is not just on true crime literature, but how true crime incidents have influenced and made their way into the arts and literature,” said Cara Gilgenbach, head of Special Collections.

White’s murder is a good example of true crime incidents influencing different artistic media, said Gilgenbach.

“I’m always amazed at how many examples of this there are,” she said. “Dickens was influenced by true crime incidents — all sorts of famous writers. Lots of films are based on true crime incidents. It’s something that captures the popular imagination pretty steadily.”

According to the Special Collections Web site, the White exhibit features materials from the Borowitz Crime Collection, including books, photographs, postcards and musical programs.

Gilgenbach said the 12th-floor exhibit will probably remain open until it is decided whether to host an event related to the exhibit of White’s now-famous murder.

Contact Libraries and Media Services reporter Andrew Schiller at [email protected].