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Glamorous Depravity: A History of San Francisco Crime  

Paul Drexler San Francisco has always been a city of poets and criminals. Local poet Kenneth Rexroth put it best, “San Francisco is the only American city which was not founded overland by the westward spreading puritan tradition. It was settled mostly by gamblers, prostitutes, rascals, immigrants and fortune seekers who came across the Isthmus and around the Horn.” The California discovery of gold in 1848 brought a different group of immigrants. They were not running from persecution and tyrants. They were racing toward riches. The freedom they sought were open spaces, open attitudes, cheap land and, in many cases, freedom from legal authorities. Week 1 Introduction to San Francisco Crime history: Crimes of All Nationalities – 1850-1950 • The Australians • The Irish • The Chinese • The French • The Italians Week 2 Serial Killers The Unkindest Cut of All -Buck Kelly The Gorilla Killer-Earle Nelson The Buttermilk Bluebeard-Alfred Cline The Grandma From Hell -Iva Kroegar The Murderous Millionaire -William Thoreson Week 3 Masters of Escape A Study in Phrenology-William Fredericks Manhunt -Joe Tanko King of the Escape Artists-Roy Gardner The Yacht Bandits-Ethan McNabb and Lloyd Sampsell Week 4 Dangerous Dames The Deadly Chocolatier- Cordelia Botkin The Jazzmania Murderer - Dorothy Ellingson The Duchess: A Female Fagin-Juanita Spinelli Con Artists The Great Diamond Hoax- Arnold Slack Big Bertha -Bertha Heyman The Man of a 1000 Aliases -Andrew John Gibson The Father of Electric Medicine -Dr Albert Abrams Week 5 Unsolved Mysteries: Who was Erdnase?, The Preparedness Day Bombing, The Zodiac Killer Week 6 A Crooks Tour of the Barbary Coast (OFFSITE: Details will be provided to enrolled students) Paul Drexler is the Director of Crooks Tours of San Francisco. He has written extensively on the history of San Francisco crime and currently writes a column “Notorious Crooks” for the San Francisco Examiner. He has given walking tours on crime history to over 1,000 people and have appeared on The Discovery ID Network show Deadly Women as an expert on San Francisco murderesses.