The City and Female Criminals: Three Criminal Experiences at the Turn of the XIX-XX centuries

The City and Female Criminals: Three Criminal Experiences at the Turn of the XIX-XX centuries

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The online encyclopedia "Lviv Interactive" publishes a multimedia story, "The City and Female Criminals: Three Criminal Experiences at the Turn of the XIX-XX Centuries."

The research by Dr. Ivanna Cherchovych focuses on three women: 20-year-old Mariia Shutek from Znesinnia [the area of Lychakivskyi District in Lviv, t\n], put on trial for the murder of her daughter Sofia in Lviv in May 1870; a 45-year-old midwife from Virmenska st. [Armenian street, t\n] named Klara Weisshaar, accused of complicity in the crime of abortion, which she helped to perform on a servant named Katarzyna Słodka in March 1905; and 35-year-old Elżbieta Wenne, convicted of pimping out her daughter in 1887.

"Their stories have come to us more by chance than by a well thought out in the advance plan, and probably none of them [these women, t\n] imagined that this would be the story of their lives. Each of the three criminal cases — in which our heroines will be the main defendants — is essentially an autobiography. Despite the fact that these narratives were written rather against their will than willingly, they (somewhat paradoxically) can claim to be much more balanced in their representations than classical autobiographies since, in the process of their creation, they were directly corrected by the testimonies of others. [...]

The stories of the women described here are not the stories of victims. At least, it would be hard to call them that. These stories are about choices made, mistakes and their consequences, human relationships, difficult motherhood, and tragic childhood. These stories are about power and the experience of it: all three women committed their crimes against those who were weaker than them, meaning other women or children. These are stories about guilt, the search for justice, and punishment. These are stories about the city and its inhabitants on the margins of the big narratives."

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Dr. Ivanna Cherchovych

Historian, PhD in History (Ivan Krypiakevych Institute of Ukrainian Studies, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2014). Researcher and coordinator of Educational projects of the Center for Urban History. Since 2016, she has been a member of the Ukrainian Association of Researchers of Women’s History. The key research focuses are women’s history, historical anthropology, history of everyday life in Galicia in the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.


This publication is a continuation of Ivanna Cherchovych's research published on Lviv Interactive.

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Cover Image: Central State Historical Archives of Ukraine in Lviv