HST 305: Digital Research Project

“These boys are not like other children of their age,” he said. “They’re tainted, off color. They’re rotten, purple like the color of bad meat. They’re a Purple Gang.”

-Detroit Shop Owner about the Purple Gang

When thinking of topics that could be used, I decided to use something not only from my distant family history, but also something that has always been of interest to me—the Purple Gang.

The Purple Gang is known for being one of the most notorious and bloodiest gangs during the 1920s and 1930s. Their whereabouts were known throughout the Midwest, but were centered in the Detroit area. Along with being known for their hot-headed nature, they are also known for their bootlegging and liquor trafficking from Canada to Detroit and Chicago during the time of prohibition.

Courtesy of Wayne State Reuther Library, Detroit, MI. 1928. Members of the Purple Gang members hide their faces behind hats as they line up outside of the Detroit Police Department’s 13th Precinct building (1)

Navigating the Website:

The right hand column includes topics important to the Purple Gang and that help describe their significance. These topics include origins of the Purple Gang, prohibition and crime in Detroit, and the Purple Gang and industry in Detroit. Lastly, the digital archive of Purple Gang history page includes digital images and primary source documents that help portray the story of the gang. For information on where documents and sources were found, please feel free to visit the works cited page.