skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 209041 Find in a Library
Title: Patterns and Prevalence of Mass Murder in Twentieth-Century America
Journal: Justice Quarterly  Volume:21  Issue:4  Dated:December 2004  Pages:729-761
Author(s): Grant Duwe
Date Published: December 2004
Page Count: 33
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study estimated the mass murder rates and offense, offender, and victim characteristics for the period 1900 through 1999.
Abstract: Despite the lack of research on mass murder prior to 1965, scholars have contended that the onset of an unprecedented and increasing mass murder wave occurred in the mid-1960's. The current study attempts to fill the gap in the research literature by examining 909 mass killings that took place in the United States between 1900 and 1999. Data were drawn from newspaper articles in the New York Times and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI's) Supplemental Homicide Reports (SHR). Results of statistical analyses revealed that, although the mid-1960's marked the beginning of a wave of mass killings, the prevalence of mass murder was not unprecedented as mass murder was observed as being fairly common in the 1920's and 1930's. Moreover, familicides were more prevalent prior to the 1970's than they are today. Analysis of the characteristics of offenders indicated that mass murderers during the first two-thirds of the 20th century were older, more suicidal, and less likely to use guns. The only new type of mass murder observed as emerging during the 20th century was drug-related mass killings. The contentions of scholars that mass murders have increased since the mid-1960's may be due to a significantly greater number of public mass killings and sensationalistic news reporting. Future research should focus on cross-national comparisons of the patterns and prevalence of mass murder in other nations. Figures, tables, references
Main Term(s): Mass murders
Index Term(s): Crime Rate; Document analysis; Offender profiles; Offense characteristics
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.