1st Edition

Pauline Tarnowsky's Les Femmes Homicides Part I

Edited By Lin Huff Corzine Copyright 2025
    322 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This translation of Les Femmes Homicides, by Praskov'ia Tarnovskaia or Pauline Tarnowsky as her name has been Westernized, presents an important historical work in English for the first time. Tarnowsky, a neuropathologist and one of the first women allowed to attend medical school in Russia, has been called by some as the “first woman criminologist.” In Les Femmes Homicides, she uses a sample of rural peasant women who had committed homicide to test the “born criminal theory” often associated with Cesare Lombroso and to expand the theoretical explanations for the women’s homicides to include heredity and social impacts. This first volume includes Tarnowsky’s theory, methodology, and the first two categories of women she studied who were incarcerated for homicide.

    Tarnowsky’s progression from the original endeavor of identifying born criminals based on physical characteristics to the assertions she makes on the influences of biological and social factors are progressive for her time and an important contribution to the development of the discipline. Her meticulous methodological and extensive theoretical considerations regarding the intersections of her criminal population (e.g., race, environment, time, place, unity, and other social conditions) make this one of the first comprehensive studies on female offenders to use a control group to make comparisons among consistently homogenous criminal and non-criminal populations. She calls upon what we now know as the social sciences to study and explain homicides committed by women, eventually denouncing the importance of Lombroso’s theory of “born criminals.”  Some images of the women of Les Femmes Homicides can be found on the online book page at www.Routledge.com.

    This historical work is essential reading for scholars and students engaged in criminology, homicide studies, social history, history of criminological ideas, criminal law, social sciences, and gender studies.


    Chapter 1: Appreciation of Materials and Research Methods

    Chapter 2: Signs of Physical Degeneration                  

    Chapter 3: Heredity

    Chapter 4: Biology Applied to the Study of the Criminal

    Chapter 5: The Case of Homicidal Women for Passion

    Chapter 6: Homicides Committed Under the Influence of Maternal and Sexual Love

    Appendix I: Anthropometric Tables I & II  


    Lin Huff-Corzine is Professor Emerita at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. She is active in the American Society of Criminology, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the Homicide Research Working Group. Her research focuses on violent crime including homicide, mass victimization, human trafficking, and domestic violence. Publications that directly relate to Les Femmes Homicides include “The life and scholarship of Pauline Tarnowsky: Criminology’s mother,” with Dr. Kayla Toohy, which appeared in the Journal of Criminal Justice. The 2019 article with Drs. Alec Szalewski and Amy Reckdenwald, “Trading Places: Micro-Level Predictors of Women Who Commit Intimate Partner Homicide,” which appeared in Homicide Studies is also about women who killed spouses. Recent presentations at the European Society of Criminology and the American Society of Criminology focus on the context in which the women Tarnowsky studied committed homicide.

    Kayla Toohy is an Assistant Professor in the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at the University of Tampa. Her research areas primarily focus on studies of lethal violence, taking into consideration macro-level economic and social factors and the geographic distribution of individual crimes using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Additionally, she has conducted research in the areas of intimate partner violence, family mass murder, historical contributions to criminological literature, and environmental degradation. Publications that reference information related to Pauline Tarnowsky and her historical contributions to the discipline of criminology include “The life and scholarship of Pauline Tarnowsky: Criminology’s mother,” with Dr. Lin Huff-Corzine, in the Journal of Criminal Justice.

    Boniface Noyongoyo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Marshall University. While he was a graduate student at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Noyongoyo translated selected sections of Tarnowsky's Les Femmes Homicides for an earlier stage of the project. His current research interests are aging, life course and health, consumption and consumerism, international migration, race and ethnicity, sociology of food, and social inequality. He has researched international students' eating habits as part of his interest in food and social inequalities. He teaches Introduction to Sociology, Research Methods, and Statistics for Social Sciences.