Research Programs: Public Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2020 - 8/31/2021

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

The 1871 Murder Trial of Laura D. Fair and the End of Frontier-Era San Francisco

FAIN: FZ-271916-20

Gary Krist
Unaffiliated independent scholar

Research and writing leading to a book on the sensational murder trial of Laura D. Fair (1837-1919) and its impact on the city of San Francisco.   

The 1871 trial of Laura D. Fair for the murder of her longtime adulterous lover, A.P. Crittenden, was one of the most notorious and controversial court cases in American history. Centering on all-important social issues like the sanctity of the family, the significance of reputation, and the range of acceptable expressions of gender, the trial challenged long-held beliefs of an American populace still searching for moral consensus after the shattering divisiveness of civil war. And although the spectacle of the trial dominated front pages nationwide, its outcome was of critical importance to the city in which the drama played out—San Francisco, a still-adolescent metropolis in the 1870s, eager to shed its Gold Rush-era reputation as a raucous and untamed frontier town. My book will recount this story of surprisingly modern cultural conflicts and explore what it meant—both for a nation still scarred by war and for the rapidly growing city that hoped to take its rightful place in it.