Terms and Definitions


Person - Victim

These are the fields used to describe a person who was the target of racial violence in a specific incident.

Name: The full name of the person who was the target of racial violence.

Name - alternate: Any alternate/misspellings of the victim’s name, including nicknames.

Sex: The person's sex, as recorded or inferred from sources. The allowed values for this field are: male, female.

Race: The person's race, as recorded or inferred from sources. The allowed values for this field are:

  • African American: There is a document in the file that explicitly identifies the person as African American, through an explicit descriptor such “Negro”, “colored,” etc., or through another derogatory term.
  • likely African American: There is no document in the file that explicitly identifies the person as African American, but there are other contextual clues that make it likely (e.g., a letter written to the NAACP asking for help with the case.)
  • Latino: The person is Latino, as explicitly identified in the documents (e.g., a "Mexican national"). A Latino surname is not enough to place a victim into this category.

Age: The person's age at the time of the incident.

Date of death: The person's exact date of death when known. Note: this may differ from the date of the incident of racial violence.

Occupation: The work the victim did, exactly as reported in the documentation.

Occupation sector(s): The categorization of the victim's employment as determined by CRRJ. Definitions include ranges of occupations that share the same characteristics in type of labor performed, settings in which the labor is performed, and the skills necessary to perform the labor. The allowed values for this field are:

  • agricultural: Work that involves the production of food for market, either by owning the land on which the food is produced or working that land.
  • building trades / construction: Work involving construction of any sort, including the construction of canals, levees, and roads.
  • criminal: Work that involves making a living through illegal activities. This primarily comprises moonshiners and bootleggers.
  • industrial / resource extraction: Work that involves light or heavy manufacturing or in extracting resources from land that are not meant to be consumed as food (e.g. fur trappers, turpentine workers).
  • laborer: Sector assigned to any person identified only as a laborer in the records. These individuals may labor in specific industries, but contemporary sources often simplify all non-professional and non-agricultural work to simply “labor.”
  • police / security: Employment as an officer of the law, no matter the jurisdiction. This category also includes prison officials, private security guards, railroad police, and company police. It does not include bus drivers and others who have the power to act as police in strictly limited circumstances.
  • professional: This includes those requiring some degree of professional certification like doctors and attorneys; the owner of any business regardless of industry; and union organizers, ministers, and others.
  • public sector: Employment by a public body. This includes sanitation workers, WPA employees, city and county officials, judges, etc. It does not include officers of the law who are tracked separately. It also does not include bus drivers since these were often employed by private companies and their work tends to fit into service.
  • service: Work in the service sector and dealing primarily with the public as customers. This includes auto mechanics, taxi drivers, entertainment workers, hospital attendants, bus drivers, food service workers, gas station attendants. It does not include the owners of these businesses. Those have been categorized as professionals.
  • transportation: Work involving the transportation of goods by rail, road, or sea. This includes sailors, stevedores, railroad firemen, etc. It generally also includes all railroad workers except Pullman Porters, who are categorized under Service.

Military service status: If the person was serving in active duty at the time of their death, this field will indicate active duty. If the person served in the military at some point prior to the incident, this field will indicate veteran.

Military service details: Additional details about the victim's military service, including rank, service branch, and conflict.

Imprisoned/prisoner: Indication that the person was serving a sentence pursuant to a conviction for a prior criminal charge at the time of the incident.

Incident: The incident in which this person was killed.

Document(s): Any documents related to this person or the incident in which they were killed.


Person - Alleged perpetrator/other named individual

These are the fields used to describe a person alleged to have participated in one or more incidents of racial violence. This includes individuals who participated as accomplices before and after the fact. This also includes law enforcement officials who facilitated the offense by commission or omission of duty.

Name: The full name of the person.

Name - alternate: Any alternate/misspellings of the person’s name, including nicknames.

Law enforcement status: If the person was known to be a member of law enforcement or employed in a prison in some capacity, this field will indicate police/prison official.

Related incident(s): The incidents in which this person was alleged to have participated.


Incident

The racial violence incident, refers to one or more occurrences of racial violence committed by the same alleged perpetrator, or group of perpetrators at the same time and place, that resulted in the killing of a Black person. The “Date” of the incident is the date of the initial act of potentially lethal violence that began the immediate chain of events that led to the death of the victim. If a victim is abducted and later killed, the incident begins at the moment of the abduction. The incident does not include acts of violence that may be considered a part of the victim’s alleged offense (e.g., a fight with a white man) unless it immediately preceded the chain of events that led to the victim’s death. See CRRJ discussion of incident and racially motivated homicide.

Case summary: A narrative summary of the events of the incident, written by CRRJ staff.

Victim(s): The names of the people who were killed in this incident of racial violence.

Alleged perpetrators/other named individuals: Any individuals named in the records who may have participated in the incident.

Perpetrator group type: A characterization of the community status of the persons involved in the incident. The allowed values for this field are:

  • police: Indicates that at least one member of law enforcement was among the alleged perpetrators/other named individuals of the incident. See CRRJ discussion of police killings.
  • posse: Indicates that the alleged perpetrators/other named individuals were deputized by law enforcement at the time of the incident.
  • mob: Indicates that a crowd of people (ten or more individuals) unified in their intent to perpetuate violence and disorder. See CRRJ discussion of mob versus lynching.
  • hate group: Indicates that a hate group played a part in the incident.

Date of incident: The date of the initial act of violence that began the chain of events which led to the death of the victim.

Location: The municipality, county/parish, and/or state where the incident occurred.

Location type: The categorization of the site of the initial act of potentially lethal violence which began the immediate chain of events that led to the death of the victim as determined by CRRJ definitions. The allowed values for this field are:

  • carceral location: A location such as a jail, prison, penitentiary, labor camp, or road gang where the victim is being incarcerated or detained. If the victim has been placed under arrest, it includes police stations. It does not include police vehicles carrying the victim to a site of incarceration.
  • military installation: A location such as a military base, depot, and any other site under the jurisdiction and control of one of the branches of the United States military or the National Guard.
  • victim’s home: The location where the victim lived at the time of his or her killing. This includes rented and owned spaces and the areas immediately outside these spaces such as yards and porches. It also includes the homes of family or friends in which the victim may have been staying temporarily.
  • victim’s workplace: The location where the victim was working either for wages or as a business owner. This also includes labor done under conditions of peonage. It does not include labor conducted in a carceral setting. It also does not include the homes of tenant farmers or sharecroppers, but it does include the fields in which tenant farmers and sharecroppers may work. Additionally, it includes sites where the victim was picketing or engaged in union activity in front of the victim’s workplace.
  • private space - agricultural or industrial: A location such as a site of industrial or agricultural production (e.g., a sawmill or cane field) at which the victim is not also an employee, owner, or operator. It also includes sites that are ancillary to agricultural or industrial production, such as shipping docks, warehouses, etc.
  • private space - commercial: A location such as a store, tavern, restaurant, or any other site of commerce open to the general public at which the victim is not also an employee, owner, or operator. This also includes spaces where illegal commercial activities are undertaken, such as illegal brothels and gambling dens.
  • private space - domestic: A domestic location which the victim did not use as his or her primary residence. This includes all privately-owned land in addition to the buildings on that land.
  • private space - other: A private space that does not fit under any other category (e.g., church buildings, private hunting clubs).
  • public conveyance: Any mode of transportation available to the general public, whether paying or not, such as city buses and trains. This also includes train stations, bus stations, and other structures that are ancillary to public transportation. This excludes sites where the victim operates or works on a public conveyance, such as a taxicab or railroad car, which would be classified instead as the victim’s workplace. If a victim had been a passenger on the conveyance and the incident occurred immediately outside that conveyance, the site is still classified as a public conveyance.
  • public space - rural: Any space accessible to the general public, such as roads, highways, bridges, and public forests that lie outside of an urban or suburban area. It includes motor vehicles, such as police cars, that are being driven on public roads. This also includes locations that are technically private property, but which are generally accessible to the public (e.g. railroad tracks and rights-of-way).
  • public space - urban: Any space accessible to the general public, such as streets, sidewalks, parks, and playgrounds that are part of an urban or suburban area. It also includes motor vehicles, such as police cars, that are being driven on public streets. Swamps and fields that lie just outside or at city or town limits are counted as urban spaces. The definition of urban used here is capacious, including everything from large cities to small towns. This also includes public buildings which are accessible to the general public such as libraries, courthouses, and hospitals. It only includes police stations if the victim has not been placed under arrest. This also includes locations that are technically private property, but which are generally accessible to the public (e.g. railroad tracks, rights-of-way, empty lots).
  • unknown - rural: Any space that can be described as rural, but about which no other details are known.
  • unknown - urban: Any space that can be described as urban, but about which no other details are known.

Allegation against victim The offense(s) the victim was accused of, exactly as reported in the documentation.

Coroner/inquest: Indicates whether there was an inquest by either a single coroner or a coroner's jury for this incident.

Finding of no legal responsibility: Indicates whether the inquest found the alleged perpetrator/other named individual was not legally responsible for the incident.

Criminal process - arrest: Indicates that at least one of the alleged perpetrators/other named individuals was arrested.

Criminal process - charge/indictment/information: Indicates that criminal charges were filed against at least one of the alleged perpetrators/other named individuals.

Criminal process - grand jury: Indicates whether a grand jury was convened on this incident. Used when actual records exist in the archive, or the holding of a grand jury is referenced in other incident records. See CRRJ discussion of grand jury.

Criminal process - trial: Indicates that there was a criminal trial of at least one of the alleged perpetrators/other named individuals.

Criminal process - conviction: Indicates that there was a conviction in the criminal trial of at least one of the alleged perpetrators.

Criminal process - sentence: The sentence given to the alleged perpetrator(s) upon conviction on charges related to the incidents.

FBI case ID: The identifier given to the case by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations

DOJ case ID: The identifier given to the case by the United States Department of Justice.

Civil lawsuits/claims filed: Indicates that the victim’s family sought payment for the death of the insured through a civil lawsuit.

Investigated under the Emmett Till Act: Indicates that this incident was investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Justice pursuant to the ("Emmett Till Act"), of 2007, and the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Reauthorization Act of 2016.

Document(s): Any documents related to this incident or its victims.


Document

These are the fields used to describe a document in the archive. More complete metadata for each document can be found in the Northeastern University Digital Repository Service (DRS).

Title: Title assigned to the document in the cataloging process.

Creator: Person or organization responsible for producing the document.

Publisher: Entity responsible for publishing the document.

Date created: Date, date range, or approximate date on which the original document was created or published.

Genre: The type of the document, categorized based on its originating organization, agency, or group, or the type of information contained in the record. The allowed values for this field are:

  • advocacy group resources: Civil rights or other organization advocating for justice for victims.
  • birth certificates: Official state or local government record of victim’s birth.
  • census records: United States or local census records which include the victim's name.
  • coroner's reports: A record generated during the course of the coroner's investigation.
  • correspondence: Correspondence which is not part of a larger file (for example correspondence within a Federal Agency record).
  • court records: A record generated during the course of either criminal or civil court action. Includes items otherwise recorded at a courthouse, such as property deeds.
  • death certificates: Official state or local government record which records the death and demographic information of the victim. While not a death certificate, “Failure to Find” death certificate notices issued by the relevant state authority are treated as such for the purposes of this archival collection.
  • employment documents: Documents related to the victim's employment. Does not include military records.
  • federal agency records: Federal government record departmental records. Does not include military records.
  • maps: Electronic or handwritten geographic materials.
  • military documents: Any military service record relating to the victim.
  • news articles: An article, editorial or opinion column published in a newspaper or magazine about an incident or its aftermath.
  • police reports: Reports or records created by police or other local or state law enforcement agency.
  • state agency records: State or local government record. Does not include police, coroner, or court records.
  • student essays: Student-created reports for the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ).

Agency record number: The identifier assigned to this document by its originating agency.

Victim(s): The victim(s) to which this document is related.

Incident(s): The incident(s) to which this document is related.

Access status: If the digitized document in the DRS is accessible to the general public, this will take the value public. If the document is only accessible to users signed in to the DRS with a Northeastern University login, this will take the value Northeastern University affiliates.