Homicides in New York City, 1797-1999

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.

Shared Dataset Variables

Variable Name Description
DAY the day of an event or occurrence (not related to a person's life event)
DEATHCAUSE cause of death of a person in a dataset
ETHNICITY ethnicity of a person in a dataset
INCIDENCECRIMEPERSON measurement of a crime committed by or afflicted on a person
MARRIAGESTATUS records marriage status using booleans (yes or no) or married/not married/widowed/etc.
MONTH the month of an event or occurrence (not related to a person's life event)
NATIVITYCITY birthplace of individual or of parent(s) of individual
NATIVITYSTATEUS birthplace of individual or of parent(s) of individual
PLACEADDRESS an address recorded in a dataset
PLACECITY the named city that is being measured in a dataset
PLACECOUNTRY the named country that is being measured in a dataset
PLACESTATEUS the named state (us) that is being measured in a dataset
RACE race of a person in a dataset
YEAR the year of an event or occurrence (not related to a person's life event)