Susan Marks
Murder in a Nutshell: The Frances Glessner Lee Story

A grant was awarded to SUSAN MARKS and JOHN KURTIS DEHN for Murder in a Nutshell: The Frances Glessner Lee Story. This feature-length documentary is about a mysterious and brilliant woman who pioneered the field of legal medicine (later called forensics) in the 1930s, an era when women were rarely accepted in the realms of law enforcement and science. Frances Glessner Lee was a wealthy heiress from the Victorian age, but she was far from the eras picture of femininity. She was no-nonsense in appearance, extremely intelligent, and well read. Still, her father, of the International Harvester fortune, forbade her from going to college, insisting education was wasted on women. Frances married young, had children, and quickly divorced. Without money of her own, she spent much of her adult life under the thumb of her controlling parents. Her brother introduced her to a friend from Harvard, Dr. George McGrath. She and McGrath struck up a close friendship that led to many late nights talking through details of crime scenes and grisly murders. Frances came to understand the need to better educate police detectives in processing crime scenes. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, she was considered a pioneer in the budding field of forensics. She went on to become the first woman member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences as well as an honorary police captain in the New Hampshire State Police, with full rights and privileges. Through her accomplishments, she was dubbed, The Patron Saint of Forensics.

About this grant

Film and Video
Grant Program
Minnesota Film and Video


The Travel and Study Grant Program application is now open. The deadline is December 7, 2017.


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