Codependent criminals

Image courtesy of Picryl
Bonnie and Clyde both grew up in impoverished West Dallas during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. Their rebellion against the law and society also included dressing in their best clothes. This is an example of stylish and expensive clothing from the time period.
A small slice of one of the many vehicles stolen by the Barrow Gang is seen in the background of this image. Vehicles did not require keys to start the engine until 1949, so stealing vehicles was sometimes more simple. I wonder how many cars were stolen by the Barrow Gang?

Image courtesy of Picryl

This comic appeared just days before Bonnie and Clyde were fatally shot by police on May 23, 1934.

This comic shows the popular method of execution at the time, the electric chair. Public opinion of Bonnie and Clyde at this point was shifting away from enamor and toward hatred. This cartoon also shows the feelings of the general public about capital punishment at the time.

Image courtesy of Pictyl
Some interesting insight into the time, Bonnie is known by pseudonyms but also by “Mrs.” and then the full name of the man she is married to or connected to. This is common for how women were often treated as property of or tied to the men in their lives throughout history.

The National Motor Vehicle Theft Act was enacted in 1919, also known as the Dyer Act. It made the theft of vehicles and their movement across state lines a federal crime. The prominence of the law listed on this wanted poster might tell us something about how terrible a crime vehicle theft was considered by the public at this time.

J. Edgar Hoover was the Director of the FBI at this time. His name issued on this poster is important because at this time the Bureau, under his direction, was cracking down on mobsters and bank robbers who had been evading capture with the help of people who saw banks as the enemy during the Great Depression.

5 Replies to “Codependent criminals”

  1. What a fascinating topic choice Olivia! It makes me curious to think about how growing up during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression might have shaped Bonnie and Clyde’s justifications for living a life of crime (and the way the dressed).

  2. Great observations here, Olivia! Despite being a history major, I am sad to say that I haven’t learned anything about Bonnie and Clyde, aside from American pop culture references. I really like this activity because I get to see fascinating pictures, complete with observations from someone who knows the historical context. I had no idea that cars weren’t required to start with keys all the way until 1949! I wonder how car thefts around this time compare to today?

    Great job with your post!

  3. Awesome choice, Olivia. As someone who did my piece on the Dust Bowl, it really gave me an added sense of investment to wonder about Bonnie and Clyde’s life during that period. Also, your photos almost made me feel like I was playing a mystery game, or acting like a detective of some kind. It was kinda fun!

  4. Hello, Olivia. This was pretty interesting because I didn’t know much about this particular subject. Amazing how the evolution of the automobile had a lot of crucial history tied to these two figures. It shows how certain individuals can wildly influence how events unfold and how they reflect the time capsule from which they originated. Well done.

  5. Takes me back to the depictions by Faye Dunaway / Warren Beatty and the origins of media-fueled celebrity. The juxtaposition of the “glam” portrait and electric chair captures how fleeting that fame can be.

    Your FBI flyer is a treasure trove of historical details. Great find that works well with other two images. All makes for an engaging and insightful learning activity

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