CONTACT: CATHY CLEMONS
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0008; fax (319) 384-0024
UI professor to use NEH grant to research police execution
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Professor of History Allen Steinberg
has received a $30,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant to research
a book about the only police officer ever executed in American history.
Steinberg will use the money as a salary replacement to research the book
full-time next year. The project is tentatively titled, "Murder and the
Struggle for Law Enforcement in Progressive New York."
The book will recount the story of New York City vice squad head Charles
Becker, who was executed in 1915 for the murder of a gambler three years earlier.
At the time few realized Becker had been framed by some of the most powerful
politicians and opinion-makers of the day.
The Becker case was the O.J. Simpson case of its time, riveting the attention
of New Yorkers and the nation, says Steinberg.
"It was the culminating episode in a more than 20-year crusade of urban
and police reform that had been sweeping American cities and involved many
of the most colorful characters and fundamental features of life in Progressive
era America," he says. "It remains one of the most infamous and
is certainly the most ironic instance of police abuse of authority in American
Steinberg will conduct most of his research in New York City. The book will
focus on three important figures in the case, attorney Frank Moss, New York
Mayor William J. Gaynor and Becker, who Steinberg says was a brutal, grafting
and politically connected cop, representative of what reformers on all sides