History of Capital Punishment


Award Winning Author, Eugene G. Wanger

The Abolitionist of the Century Award

  • Provides a comprehensive overview of the history of death penalty legislation
  • Includes a database version of Eugene G. Wanger’s prestigious Death Penalty Collection: A Descriptive Bibliography
  • Wanger’s bibliography includes books, pamphlets, periodicals, posters, photographs, and other memorabilia related to the history of the death penalty
  • Database includes more than 7,000 bibliographic entries with links to nearly 650 full-text documents only available in HeinOnline!
  • Collection contains more than 1,000 titles and 320,000 pages
  • 75% of content in this collection is not available in core subscriptions!
  • Also includes related trials, congressional hearings, periodicals, scholarly articles, and more!


In October of 2019, Eugene G. Wanger was awarded the “Abolitionist of the Century Award” from the Journey of Hope.

Journey of Hope is an international organization dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. The organization spotlights murder victim’s family members who choose not to seek revenge, and instead select the path of love and compassion for all of humanity.

“…Except for peace and war, no question of public policy is more important than whether or not, or under what circumstances, government should be authorized by its citizens to kill people.”
Eugene G. Wanger


This fully-searchable, easy-to-use resource is packed with information on capital punishment and includes both a PDF and a database version of the Wanger bibliographic index, with access to nearly 650 full text out-of-copyright works indexed in Wanger’s collection. Other death penalty-related publications include more than 150 trials, 300 books, and periodicals, as well as relevant scholarly articles, an additional bibliography, and external links to further the researcher’s exploration of this topic.

Mr. Wanger’s work, combined with the additional content included in History of Capital Punishment in HeinOnline, provides an extensive and well-organized platform for research on capital punishment and related issues.


The Eugene G. Wanger and Marilyn M. Wanger Death Penalty Collection contains a wide variety of materials that document the history and debate about capital punishment as well as discuss the criminal justice system surrounding it. The collection includes books, artifacts and ephemera, pamphlets, audio and video, prints, posters, buttons, reports, testimony, correspondence, files by subject, advocacy materials, and clippings. Mr. Wanger, a noted expert on this topic, created or collected the materials himself.

This extraordinary and unique scholarly resource was compiled over a period of more than 50 years, and was digitized exclusively by HeinOnline at the authors’ request. The bibliography concentrates on the death penalty’s nature, history, operation, effects, psychology, desirability, and compatibility with religious and moral precepts.

The material is organized into five parts:

  • Part I: Books, Pamphlets and Important Ephemera
  • Part II: Files
  • Part III: Electronic Media
  • Part IV: Graphics Inventory
  • Part V: Artifacts Inventory

Also included are finding lists, comprehensive search lists (including references to 97 names and subjects pertaining to capital punishment), and a general index.

This incredible collection also includes Wanger’s testimony at numerous hearings opposing bills attempting to reinstate the death penalty, as well as brochures and short articles. The bound and boxed volumes provide a comprehensive overview of the history of death penalty legislation in Michigan. Through legislation in 1846, the state became first English-speaking government to abolish the death penalty for murder and lesser crimes.


In addition to the database based on Wanger’s Death Penalty Collection: A Descriptive Bibliography, the online resource contains:

  • An A-Z list of all available full-text titles
  • Periodicals on the topic of the death penalty
  • Trials and congressional hearings related to capital punishment
  • Additional bibliographic references
  • Scholarly articles about this topic
  • Links to relevant external resources


Eugene G. Wanger, the author of this book, graduated from Amherst College with honors. He earned his law degree from the University of Michigan, where he was a champion moot court competitor. Later, was elected from Lansing to the Michigan Constitutional Convention of 1961-1962, where he authored the state’s constitutional ban of the death penalty (the only constitutional prohibition of capital punishment in the United States).

Since 1972 Mr. Wanger has co-chaired the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment, co-founded the Michigan Coalition Against the Death Penalty, and continued his interest in history and government, authoring several books and many articles. In 2005 Mr. Wanger received the Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar of Michigan for superior professional accomplishment benefiting the state and nation, especially through his work on capital punishment. A retrospective of his death penalty writings has been published by Michigan State University Press; and his collection on that subject was considered the largest in America in private hands before being made part of the National Death Penalty Archives at the State University of New York at Albany. Biographies of Mr. Wanger are included in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Law. He resides in Lansing with his wife of over fifty years, Marilyn M. Wanger.

Marilyn M. Wanger (nee Morris) is also a graduate of Michigan Law School, where the two of them met. Valedictorian of her high school class in Mason, Michigan, she was awarded an academic scholarship to Michigan State University. She wrote papers in high school and college against capital punishment. Following graduation, she taught English and mathematics before entering law school. Mrs. Wanger has had a distinguished legal career, first as a Michigan Assistant Attorney General and then as a Commissioner of Michigan’s Court of Appeals. She was the first woman to serve on the Lansing Community College Board of Trustees.


In an effort to make this database as comprehensive as possible, new material will be added regularly. If your organization has materials not yet found in this resource that you are willing to lend, please contact marketing@wshein.com or (800) 828-7571 for more information. 

For pricing information about this database, including pricing, please contact your sales representative or contact our Marketing department at marketing@wshein.com or 800-828-7571

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