Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Crime in a nutshell
One more Tuesday in Women's History Month … time enough to talk about Frances Glessner Lee (1878–1962), the society matron and International Harvester heiress whose life was dedicated to miniatures and forensics.
This little info-blog is for those who may not have heard of Lee's amazing dioramas, compiled in "The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death." Lee meticulously crafted miniature scenes in the normal dollhouse scale of 1 inch = 1 foot to teach law enforcement students the intricacies of investigating a crime scene.
The dioramas have extraordinary detail and verisimilitude. The windows open and close and the pencils write; tiny clothespins, whittled by Lee, hold stockings that she knitted using straight pins.
Lee endowed a Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, and eventually gave seminars to homicide detectives. As far as I can tell from the sources, it was she who came up with the idea of "circling" a crime scene in a methodical pattern to obtain the best vision of what the evidence revealed.
For a look at her macabre scenes: http://www.bellwethergallery.com/artistsindex_01.cfm?fid=28
Long before CSI, Lee was a tireless advocate of forensics science and dedicated miniaturist.
No wonder I wish I could have lunch with her.