The Library of Congress > Wise Guide > August 2011 > To Sketch a Criminal
To Sketch a Criminal

David Berkowitz, Mark David Chapman, John Gotti . . . certainly a who’s who list of notorious killers. And Marilyn Church has quite literally had her hand in their lives. Church, a courtroom artist, has illustrated the trials of several nortorious criminals. Some 4,000 sketches have made their way from the courthouse to the Library.

Drawing shows David Berkowitz sitting as District Attorney Eugene Gold argues his case at hearing to determine his competency to stand trial in the case of The People of the State of New York v. David Berkowitz. 1977. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-ppmsca-31188 (digital file from original item); Call No.: Unprocessed in PR 13 CN 2010:202-4, no. 4182 [P&P] B-17 waist gunner. Between 1942 and 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction Information: Reproduction No.: LC-DIG-ppmsca-22716 (digital file from original item); Call No.: DRWG/US - Brodie, no. 34 (A size) [P&P]

Church’s deft fingers and keen eye take the place of cameras – which are typically not permitted in court – allowing the drama to play out. The former fashion illustrator’s work provides insight into the people who influenced the major issues of the late 20th century, including race and race relations, gender, women’s reproduction, political and corporate corruption, religion, international relations and celebrities.

A selection of her drawings is available in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. More can be read about her work in an article in the January/February 2011 issue of the Library of Congress Information Bulletin.

Although Church’s collection represents the largest body of such work in the Library, predecessors like Howard Brodie are represented. Brodie covered the trials of Charles Manson, the Chicago Seven and Gen. William Westmoreland. He’s also noted for his combat sketches of WWII.