Alice Mitchell

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Alice Jessie Mitchell
Illustration of Alice Mitchell
Born November 26, 1872
Memphis, Tennessee
Died March 31, 1898 (25)
Tennessee State Insane Asylum Bolivar, Tennessee
Nationality American
Known for murdering her lesbian lover

Alice Mitchell was an American murderer. On February 23rd, 1892, the 19-year-old Mitchell cut the throat of her lover, 17-year-old Freda Ward.[1] Mitchell was subsequently found insane by means of a jury inquisition and placed in a psychiatric hospital until her death in 1898.[2] The case received unprecedented media coverage and drew discussion of lesbianism into public light.[3] The case influenced the popular literature of the era which began to depict lesbians as "murderous" and "masculine".[4]

The case history produced by Mitchell's defense describes her as "a regular tomboy".[5]

This story was featured on Investigation Discovery's Deadly Women.

Mitchell's story is the subject of the book Alice + Freda Forever by Alexis Coe.


  1. ^ "Alice Mitchell Insane.; The Murderess of Frieda Ward to be Placed in an Asylum.". New York Times. July 31, 1892. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  2. ^ "A Most Shocking Crime; A Memphis Society Girl Cuts a Former Friend's Throat. Alice Mitchell, Daughter of a Wealthy Retired Merchant, Jumps from a Carriage, Seizes Frieda Ward, and Kills Her.". New York Times. January 26, 1892. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  3. ^ Abate, Michelle Ann (2008). Tomboys: a literary and cultural history. Temple University Press. pp. 72–74. ISBN 1-59213-722-9. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  4. ^ Faderman, Lillian (1993). Odd girls and twilight lovers: a history of lesbian life in twentieth-century America. Columbia University Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-231-07488-3. Retrieved 18 August 2009. 
  5. ^ Robert J. Corber; Stephen M. Valocchi (2003). Queer studies: an interdisciplinary reader. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 73–87. ISBN 0-631-22917-5.