Lizzie Andrew Borden. For the majority, the name conjures up visions of a hatchet-wielding murderess, blindly considered guilty of the horrific crime of parricide. But the outcome of her sensational trial was quite the opposite: Tried by due process of law, she was acquitted of all charges levied against her. A free woman, she returned to Fall River, Massachusetts, her native city, to resume private life. Yet, regardless of the liberating decision delivered by the jury, the specter of suspicion remained ever-present, haunting Lizzie relentlessly for the rest of her days.
Today, the name “Lizzie Borden” is known worldwide, and interest in her is enduring as well as universal. The Borden case is viewed as one of the most famous unsolved mysteries of all time, and has inspired countless articles and books, plays, movies, and even a television series. For researchers, journalists, filmmakers, writers, true crime buffs, and others with an interest in the life and trial of Lizzie Borden, Fall River Historical Society is an incomparable resource.
The Lizzie Borden Collection is without peer in size, range, and caliber. The collection is also distinguished by our exacting standards of documenting provenance, which ensure that each item has an impeccable connection to Lizzie Borden, her life, or her trial. In light of the many items of dubious origin that continue to surface, this is a significant distinction.
Fall River Historical Society is recognized worldwide as the central repository for material pertaining to Lizzie Borden and Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Lizzie A. Borden. Our incomparable holdings include original trial exhibits, rare photographs, and important primary source documents, making the FRHS the ultimate resource for journalists, historians, film makers, and others researching the case. In addition, our curators are among the top Borden experts in the world and frequently serve as authoritative sources on the subject.
The Lizzie Borden Collection includes several named collections of primary source material. The largest such resource of its type, this material includes forensic evidence, letters, manuscripts, and other artifacts. Among the forensic evidence are the original crime scene photos, textiles, and the alleged murder weapon. The named collections are:
The collection also includes extensive material in a general category pertaining to Lizzie Borden, members of the Andrew Jackson Borden family, and other individuals closely associated with the Borden story. This material ranges widely from artifacts and correspondence to ephemera, photographs, and a selection of Lizzie Borden’s personal belongings, such as her 14K gold American Waltham Watch Company watch in a hand-engraved case.
In recent years, our holdings have grown substantially as a result of our curators’ extensive global research and close associations with descendants of individuals connected with the Borden story. Most notably, the FRHS has brought to light an unprecedented amount of rare and important material that once lay sequestered in private collections in Europe, Asia, and North America. Among it is the only known photograph of Lizzie Borden taken at her home, Maplecroft.
Our groundbreaking work also includes the award-winning book Parallel Lives: A Social History of Lizzie A. Borden and Her Fall River. Our curators researched Lizzie Borden’s intimate personal relationships and made them public for the first time in the book, along with many formerly unknown facts and previously unpublished material. The result is the first look inside Lizzie Borden’s private world in the years after the crime and fresh insight into the woman behind the legend.
We are committed to maintaining our unique position at the forefront of the Borden case by uncovering additional new material about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden and sharing it with the public. For instance, we acquired the only known photograph taken inside Maplecroft during the time the Borden sisters lived there. Donated by a descendant of Lizzie’s personal maid, Ida S. Carlson (1875 – 1966), the rare image is of Lizzie’s cherished cat, Blackie.