THE AMERICAN MERCURY is proud to present the first part of our audio version of a rare, almost-suppressed book on the murder of Mary Phagan and the trial of Leo Frank, 1913’s The Frank Case — published almost immediately after the events it details took place, when they were fresh in the minds of Atlantans. Only one original copy is known to survive, though there are rumors of others. This book is also unique as it is the earliest known book published about the case.
Its full title is The Frank Case: Inside Story of Georgia’s Greatest Murder Mystery. It was published anonymously. It highlights the events leading up to the trial and aftermath surrounding the April 26th, 1913, murder of Mary Phagan by her sweatshop boss, the superintendent of the National Pencil Company, Leo M. Frank. The book strives to maintain neutrality and includes a dramatically-rendered history of this sensational crime.
Published by The Atlanta Publishing Company, Atlanta, Georgia, in September 1913, the one known surviving copy is very fragile, printed on acidic paper, and in rapidly-deteriorating condition. This rare and possibly unique volume was scanned by Georgia State University and made available to the general public. We are now proud to present The Frank Case as an audio book.
The book’s Preface reads:
The sensational case of Leo M. Frank is undisputedly Atlanta’s and the south’s greatest murder mystery of modern years.
The story of how little Mary Phagan was foully murdered as she went to get her pay at the National Pencil factory, revolting and horrible as it is in its details, naturally interests every working man and every working woman.
The mystery of the crime compels the interest of everyone who hears about it.
“The Mary Phagan murder mystery,” however, lost its identity when Leo M. Frank, superintendent of the big factory where the humble little employe met her death, was arrested and it became the Frank case.
In no other murder case in the south has there been such intense interest. It has become more than the ordinary murder mystery; more than the story of a man of position charged with slaying in lustful passion a little factory girl. The reason of the unusual importance of the case is, it is charged, that Frank is being persecuted because he is a Jew.
The story of the fearful crime; of the principal developments of the four months that followed it, and finally the story of the great, trial, where for a solid month the two greatest criminal lawyers in the south battled against the keen wits of Atlanta’s solicitor general to save Frank, has been told by press reports.
Many of the interesting features about the Frank case, however, have never been printed, because the newspapers dared not embody them in their accounts.
This work ends with the conviction of Frank in the superior court of Fulton (Atlanta) county. Trial did not end the case, for immediately after the young defendant was sentenced to pay the death penalty, a motion for a new trial was made, and it will be months, probably years, before he hangs, if he ever does. From the day of his conviction, however, the fight for Frank’s life became a technical legal battle. The real story ends with the trial and every essential feature is given here.
We are offering this audio book in three parts in April of the year 2020, recorded by Vanessa Neubauer, in commemoration of the life of young Mary Phagan, who died at the hands of Leo Frank on 26 April, 1913 — 107 years ago this month.
To hear part 1 of The Frank Case, simply press the play button on your screen.
Click here to see all the installments of this audio book published thus far (the total will be three installments).