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Jesse James: Topics in Chronicling America

Jesse James and the James-Younger gang were feared outlaws in antebellum America. This guide provides access to materials related to “Jesse James” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Jesse James, the bandit. From the last photograph he had taken." April 18, 1882. The Bourbon News (Millersburg, KY), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Jesse James and the James-Younger gang were some of the most feared outlaws of antebellum America. Cast as heroes by some and villains by others, the former Confederate guerillas robbed banks and trains across America for over a decade. A failed robbery in Northfield, MN, however, proved a harbinger of the gang’s demise. 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.


September 7, 1876 Eight members of the James-Younger gang try to rob the First National Bank in Northfield, MN. Two die on the scene, while the James and Younger brothers escape with Charlie Pitts.
September 21, 1876 A search party catches up with Pitts and the Younger brothers. Pitts is killed in the ensuing gunfight and the Younger brothers are captured. Although the James brothers successful evade the search party, the James-Younger gang ceases to exist.
April 3, 1882 Jesse James is shot and killed in St. Joseph, Missouri by Robert Ford, who was cooperating with authorities.
October 5, 1882 Frank James surrenders to Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden.
June 8, 1892 Robert Ford, who had settled out West in Colorado, is killed in his own saloon.
July 10, 1901 Cole and Jim Younger are paroled after twenty-five years in prison
February 18, 1915 Frank James dies at the age of 72