In Kentucky in 1936, public executions were still quite the spectacle, bringing out tens of thousands of people to witness the end of convicts under the legal system. Here we see a 22 year old black man named Rainey Bethea with his hands cuffed and standing calmly at the top of the gallows in Owensboro to meet his fate. The paper caption from the International News notes that more than 20,000 people had turned out to watch! A tragic photo with obvious racial overtones, this was in fact the LAST public execution of anyone in United States history making this a truly important piece of photography that belongs in a museum! The condition and quality are both outstanding and this is only the second known photograph from the hanging we have ever seen and the first which shows Bethea standing on the gallows with his face visible!
Designation: Vintage 1
Overall Grade: 9.5/10