Archives On The Air 98: True Detective—William T. Brannon Papers

Jan 23, 2019

"True Detective" magazine with a cover similar to tabloid magazines, October 1970. Box 37, William T. Brannon papers.

True crime author W.T. Brannon wrote objectively and honestly in the 60s and 70s. But magazines publishing true crime at the time mostly had sensationalist and exploitive stories. Many of the stories featured sex appeal and violence.

"Police Detective" magazine with a sensationalized cover, October 1954. Box 32, William T. Brannon papers.

The covers often featured images of the crimes with semi-naked women. Some magazines like “Official Detective” had covers similar to Playboy. While others like “True Detective” had covers more like tabloids.

Brannon’s wife was also a true crime writer, but sexism in the industry was an issue. Brannon said, “She writes occasionally under the name Betty L. Brannon, but more often under a pseudonym because there seems to be a prejudice among true crime editors or readers, or both, against women writers.”

The William T. Brannon papers at UW’s American Heritage Center contain his articles and magazines.