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Artists in the Archives Week 1: Portrait of an item from the LOC

The item I chose for my “portrait” is a courtroom drawing of David Berkowitz, also known as the Son of Sam, a notorious serial killer in New York who targeted young women with long dark hair. It was drawn by Joseph Papin, with point pen, blue ink, and opaque white on gray paper. Some notes on the piece include that as he was being dragged out of the courtroom by guards, Berkowitz shouted “I will kill them all!”

This drawing appeared on the cover of the New York Daily News on May 23, 1978 and was gifted to the Library of Congress by Jane Papin, his wife, in 2015.

Joseph Papin has a number of other courtroom sketches in the Library of Congress (which itself has over 10,000 courtroom sketches.) His distinctive style uses pen and ink on white or gray paper, with few other colors and detailed crosshatch. He was my favorite of the courthouse illustrators I found searching loc.gov.

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