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Clarence Darrow: Topics in Chronicling America

As a labor attorney, Clarence Darrow represented clients in some of the largest cases of the early 20th century. This guide provides access to material related to "Clarence Darrow" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Clarence S. Darrow." August 17, 1912. The Day Book (Chicago, IL), Image 32. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

While best known to most for his victory in the Scopes Monkey Trial, Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) initially gained fame as America’s leading labor attorney. After resigning as a railroad attorney to represent Eugene Debs in 1894, Darrow went on to represent strikers and labor leaders around the country and was also a strong critic of the death penalty. In 1912, Darrow had his last major labor case when he defended the Los Angeles Times bombers in the trial of the “crime of the century.” After the trial, Darrow was tried but acquitted on charges of bribing jurors. Regardless, Samuel Gompers and other labor leaders distanced themselves from Darrow, prompting Darrow to become primarily a criminal attorney. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


March 1894 Clarence Darrow tries and fails to get a stay of execution for Patrick Prendergast who had murdered the Mayor of Chicago.
1894 Clarence Darrow represents organizer of the Pullman strike Eugene Debs.
1895 Supreme Court of the United States decides against Debs after hearing arguments from Clarence Darrow and the Attorney General.
1902 Clarence Darrow represents coal miners on strike in Pennsylvania.
1907 Clarence Darrow successfully defends mining organizer Big Bill Haywood in a labor related Idaho murder trial.
1911 American Federation of Labor hires Clarence Darrow to represent the McNamaras in the Los Angeles Times Bombing case. The McNamaras end up pleading guilty.
January 1912 Clarence Darrow is indicted with accusations of bribing jurors in the McNamara case, causing Samuel Gompers and the AFL to distance themselves.
August 1912 Jury acquits Clarence Darrow on bribery charges.
1916 Clarence Darrow represents striker Theodore Schweitzer in Chicago in one of his later labor cases.
1920 Clarence Darrow represents Communist Labor Party who had been targeted as part of the Palmer Raids.
July 1925 Clarence Darrow represents John T. Scopes in the Scopes Monkey Trial (The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes).