View of the all-male, all-white jury, reprinted in the Motion for a New Trial.

Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited

Seeking Justice Overview

Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found brutally murdered at the National Pencil Company, where she was employed. Leo Frank, the Jewish factory superintendent, was arrested, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. Georgia’s governor commuted Frank’s sentence to life in prison, but Frank, kidnapped from his cell, was lynched by a mob of prominent citizens.

Ironically, the case ignited a fervor that led to both the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and the reaffirmation of the mission of the Anti-Defamation League.This case was the driving force behind a number of Supreme Court rulings that redefined due process, and it sparked decades of debate over Frank’s innocence.

Using artifacts, photographs and documents relating to the two crimes and precedent-setting trial, original newspapers of the day chronicling the case, and interviews with descendants of family members and friends of Leo Frank, Mary Phagan and other key players in the trial and its aftermath, this exhibition will bring new insight to these unsolved murders and the events that led up to them.

For more information about this exhibition, please contact Jennifer Campbell by e-mail or 901-725-1955.

Buy the Seeking Justice catalogue.


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Atlanta Georgian, October 3, 1914.

Atlanta Georgian, October 9, 1914. Desperate for some good news, the defense was reenergized when it heard that William Smith, Jim Conley’s attorney, had had a change of heart. Prompted by a reexamination of the murder notes by credible individuals, including his long-time mentor Berry Benson, Smith reinvestigated all aspects of the case. Startled by his findings, Smith could come to only one conclusion: Conley had lied. Once his statement appeared in the mainstream press, Smith became the object of scorn and ridicule in the Jeffersonian and on the streets of Atlanta. Although Smith suffered professionally, he always said he had acted honorably. He spent his later years trying to prove Frank’s innocence.


Exhibition Specs and Rental Information

Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited is accompanied by an illuminating catalogue enriched with essays written by prominent scholars and legal experts in addition to compelling public programs that will explore critical issues related to the murders and subsequent events.

Size of Exhibition:    
Full Version: 2,800 square feet

Second Version: 2,000 square feet.  This version is recommended for venues that have less square footage but have gallery wall space for display.

Number of Objects: 197 original artifacts.  The first three venues on our travel schedule will enjoy the same original documents and artifacts that appear in the Atlanta premiere.  The Breman will evaluate the conservation needs of originals for subsequent venues and may, with prior notice, swap out specific documents and/or replace them with high-quality facsimiles.

Display Material:
Full Version:              

  • All artifacts, photographs, labels, and text panels
  • Four videos and audiovisual equipment
  • All free-standing casework, hardware, and a wall system

Second Version:
Extremely flexible and may take several forms depending on the host venue’s space.  The Breman’s exhibition designer will assist in determining the needs of each venue.  Generally, this version will include:

  • All artifacts, photographs, labels, and text panels
  • Digital media of all four videos and one free standing AV kiosk if required
  • All free-standing casework.
  • If space allows, the lynching display may be separated from the wall system and displayed free-standing.

Full Version: Exhibition designer on site to direct installation and de-installation.
Borrowing venue is responsible for designer’s expenses and fees.

Second Version: Exhibition designer will be available to assist host venue in determining placement of floor pieces.  If more extensive design necessitates the designer being on site (i.e. placement of framed pieces), the borrowing institution will be responsible for his fees and expenses.

Full Version: Two 52 ft trucks. One truck is required to be temperature controlled for artifacts.

Second Version: One temperature-controlled truck

Rental Fee: 
The original rental fee was $45,000 (full version) and $35,000 (second version) plus two-way shipping and expenses of designer.  However, given the challenging times faced by all of us, the rental fee is negotiable as we are eager to have this exhibition seen by a wide audience.

Rental fee includes:
16-week rental

  • Exhibit designer on site to supervise installation and de-installation – Full Version only.
  • 25 catalogues with option of purchasing additional copies
  • An electronic copy of the teachers guide and resources;
  • An electronic copy of docent training materials;
  • Press materials, including high resolution images and a template of a news release;
  • Final art for a variety of collateral material;\
  • Guide By Cell Audio Tour – host venue responsible for the Guide By Cell monthly fee

For more information about this exhibition, please contact Jennifer Campbel, Director of Special Exhibitionsl by e-mail or 901-725-1955.


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Phagan family at Mary's funeral.

The Phagan family at the funeral of Mary Phagan, April 29, 1913.
L-r: Ollie Mae Phagan, Fannie Phagan Coleman, J.W. Coleman, Ben Phagan, Lizzie Marietta Durham