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In early may, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced that he will reopen one of the most notorious criminal proceedings in American history: the trial of National Pencil Company superintendent Leo M. Frank for the murder of child laborer Mary Phagan.
The new permanent exhibition, Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta, aims to expand the way we traditionally think about the city’s history by spotlighting not only mostly forgotten events but also new perspectives on the ones we think we know.
Steve Oney is the author of And The Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank, the definitive account of the Frank case. We chatted with him about the lingering resonance of the Frank case and parallels between the social and political climate of Georgia in 1915 compared to today.
On April 26, 1913, Mary Phagan, an employee of the National Pencil Factory, went into the business office to pick up $1.20 in pay from business manager Leo Frank. Mary, who was thirteen, earned twelve cents an hour running a machine that put metal caps on pencils. Frank, a Cornell graduate, had supervised National Pencil for five years.