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New historical marker recognizes pioneering criminologist



HISTORIC_MARKER
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Left to right: Clare Brown, President of the Bethlehem Heritage Society, Mary Moritz, Chair-Board of Selectmen, Michael Bruno, marker sponsor, Gail Batchelder, great-granddaughter of Frances Glessner Lee, Elizabeth Carter, great grand niece of Frances Glessner Lee, Nigel Manley, Director of The Rocks Estate. (Photo by Justin Roshak) (click for larger version)
August 08, 2018
BETHLEHEM—New Hampshire's latest roadside historic marker was unveiled last Tuesday at the Rocks Estate, in honor of local notable and pioneering criminologist Frances Glessner Lee.

The state-approved marker, number 0257, cites Lee as the "Mother of Forensic Science," creator of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

Lee, who lived from 1878 to 1962, created some 20 meticulous, miniature dioramas for the purpose of training homicide detectives. The miniatures, most of which still survive, detail crime scenes inspired by real life police reports and autopsies, and were intended to reflect real-life experiences of working detective and police officers.

As models, the dioramas are wonders of detail and precision. As historical snapshots, they present a picture of the underbelly of life in the 1940's and 1950's. As pieces of criminology, they represent early efforts at a kind of virtual reality, which presented trainees with all the information they would have access to at a real crime scene.

For her work, Lee became an honorary Captain of the New Hampshire State Police in 1943.

The roadside monument is Bethlehem's third, and joins the markers for the Alderbrook rifle range and Pierce Bridge. Sign sponsor Michael Bruno, who lobbied the state for its creation, is currently on tour with his new book, "Cruising New Hampshire: A Guide to New Hampshire's Historical Roadside Markers." Bruno, a local teacher, visited each of the state's more than 250 roadside monuments, which document sites of historic significance, from old factories and bridges to iron furnaces.

Lee's great-granddaughter, Gail Batchelder, and Elizabeth Carter, Lee's great grand niece, both attended the unveiling ceremony. Batchelder drove up from Plymouth, Mass., while Carter lives in Bethlehem. Clare Brown, President of the Bethlehem Heritage Society, and Select Board Chair Mary Moritz also attended, as did Rocks Estate owner and director Nigel Manley.

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