Blog by Jayne Darcy
You’ve almost certainly heard the catchy rhyme about the Borden murder mystery many times:
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.
But did you know the rhyme’s content is completely inaccurate? The number of “whacks,” the type of weapon that was used, the identity of the female victim … they’re all incorrect.
If you want the real facts about Lizzie Borden and her infamous case, take a tour at Fall River Historical Society, where no myths or fictions are ever communicated.
The Society maintains the world’s largest Lizzie Borden exhibit and collections, with hundreds of rare artifacts pertaining to her life and trial, and the FRHS curators are among the world’s top Lizzie Borden experts. And according to the publication Coastal Mags, “What truly sets the exhibit apart is the information about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden that is shared with visitors.”
“People come here from all over to learn about Lizzie Borden,” says Michael Martins, the FRHS curator. “Families come with children, and the kids are just as interested as the adults. They know who Lizzie Borden is, and many of them have specific questions that they want to ask us.”
Standouts in the exhibit include the alleged murder weapon (a hatchet, not an axe), the only original trial exhibits in existence, and the photographs taken at the crime scene in 1892.
You’ll also see a selection of Lizzie Borden’s belongings – her 14K gold watch, for instance — and get a sense of her sentimental side through examples of her correspondence. Known to be fond of children and animals, she signed a Christmas card to a young friend “Auntie Borden.”
Items are shown on a rotating basis, with some material on view only occasionally due to preservation concerns. Locals know to keep an eye out for a special event at the Society each August 4th, the anniversary of the murders, when fragile items such as the bloodstained bedspread from the room where Lizzie’s stepmother, Abby Borden, was murdered may be on display temporarily.
Click here for more information about the Lizzie Borden collections at the FRHS, visit their website.