Acts Menu

Acts explores the most common findings of a coroner’s inquest (homicide, suicide, infanticide, accidental death, and natural causes). What types of violent death were most common? Who were the typical victims, and who were the typical perpetrators? What can the coroner’s office reveal about life and death in the nineteenth century South?

Homicide looks specifically at cases where the jurors found (or a commonsense reading of the evidence suggests) that a murder occurred.

Suicide looks at the varied ways men and women, free and slave, chose to end their lives in nineteenth-century South Carolina. Why they chose to end their lives is harder to determine -- the suicide note was not in common use in the period -- but the testimony of witnesses often offers insight into suicides' state of mind.

Infanticide reminds us that in an era and area without access to birth control, unwanted pregnancies were common. Most infanticides were committed by the mother, but undoubtedly there were also many cases where she was falsely accused after a miscarriage.

Accidental Death explores the most common cases coroners investigated -- accidents. Murders proceed from highly particular circumstances, but they are accomplished in formulaic ways (gun, knife, axe). Accidents are often more diverse, random, or strange.

Natural Causes looks at those cases where the inquest concluded that the deceased had succumbed to (typically) disease, stroke, or heart attack.

Each of these sections includes a tabular presentation of the CSI:D cases relevant to that 'act.'

NEXT: Homicide

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eHistory was founded at the University of Georgia in 2011 by historians Claudio Saunt and Stephen Berry

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