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Molly Maguires: Topics in Chronicling America

The Molly Maguires were a secret society whose goal was to protect their members from oppressive mine owners. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Molly Maguires” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"James McFarland's three year pursuit of the Molly Maguires." November 26, 1911. The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, CA), Image 6. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

An Irish secret society known as the Molly Maguires is thought responsible for a string of violent attacks in the Pennsylvania coal fields. After Pinkerton detective James McParlan goes undercover to join their ranks, 20 Mollies are tried, convicted, and hanged. 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.


1862-1875 Wave of assaults, robberies, and murders attributed to the Molly Maguires.
January-June 1875 “The Long Strike,” scene of some of the most violent crimes in labor history.
1876-1877 Molly Maguire Trials.
June 21, 1877 Ten Mollies convicted of murder hanged. Known as “Black Thursday” or “Day of the Rope.”
December 18, 1878 Jack Kehoe, alleged Molly Maguire leader hanged for the murder of mine boss, F. W. Langdon.
December 15, 1889 The suicide of Franklin B. Gowen, former railroad president leads to conspiracy theories.
1911 Pinkerton James McPartlan recounts his infiltration of the Molly Maguires in various newspapers.