December Island Lecture Series with Sharon Myers

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 | 7 p.m. | UPEI Main Building Faculty Lounge, UPEI

Dr. Sharon Myers presents Island Studies December Lecture:
The Murderous Mother and the Meanings of Minnie McGee

The December Island Studies Lecture was Tuesday, December 6, at 7 p.m. in the SDU Main Building Faculty Lounge on the UPEI campus, featuring Dr. Sharon Myers speaking about “The Murderous Mother and the Meanings of Minnie McGee.”

In July 1912, 36-year-old Minnie McGee (nee Mary Cassidy, 1875-1953) of St. Mary’s Road, was tried and sentenced to hang for the murder of her son. While charged only in the death of 10-year-old John, evidence suggests she had killed all six of her children during the same week that spring.

mmcgeeAt trial, McGee’s lawyer and family members, indeed McGee herself, would raise questions about her mental condition, but the defense declined to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. The jury found McGee guilty and the judge sentenced McGee to hang. Over the course of the next weeks, over 130 people in the larger Georgetown area signed a petition for clemency, requesting the federal Minister of Justice to “commute her sentence on a plea of insanity.” The commutation was awarded and McGee would spend the rest of her life in a variety of provincial and federal institutions.

Dr. Myers’ research follows McGee’s life in and out of institutions, showing a pattern of occurrences in McGee’s “criminal” life where the state chose to discipline and punish with far lighter touch than might be expected.

Sharon Myers is a member of the Department of History and former Coordinator of the Canadian Studies Programme at UPEI. She studies the relationships among the state, women, and children in the late 19th– and early 20th-century Maritimes, and is especially interested in histories of law and social welfare.