Making the Unknown Known: Demographic Characteristics of Southern Lynch Victims

Amy K. Bailey, University of Washington
Stewart E. Tolnay, University of Washington
E. M. Beck, University of Georgia

Information on lynch victim characteristics in even the best sources is limited to the individual’s race, gender, and county in which s/he was lynched. This paper outlines procedures and preliminary results for creation of a new data source that will add individual and household characteristics available in the US Census of the Population, including socioeconomic, demographic, and family structural details. Starting with the Beck-Tolnay inventory of nearly 2,500 lynch victims, we use historical census enumerator’s records to identify known lynch victims and their households, and to link this information with data on their communities of residence and of lynching. We will present preliminary results, which we anticipate will include information on roughly 400 lynch victims. We will compare the characteristics of known victims to those of random samples constructed from their surrounding communities, and use logistic regression to predict the likelihood of becoming a lynch victim, based on socio-demographic characteristics.

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Presented in Poster Session 2