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New York City Race Riot: Topics in Chronicling America

In 1900, racial tensions in New York City erupt into a riot after the murder of a police officer. This guide provides access to materials related to the "New York City Race Riot" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Scene from the West Side district where over twenty-four were hurt in the riot. August 17, 1900. New-York Tribune (New York, NY), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Racial tensions erupt into a full-fledged riot after patrolman Robert Thorpe is murdered in a street scuffle by “colored man Arthur Harris.” In the ensuing chaos hordes of angry white citizens beat and murder Negroes under the supervision of the police--with no legal ramifications. 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.


August 13, 1900 2 A.M. In New York City, Robert J. Thorpe, a white plain-clothes policeman, is stabbed three times by Arthur Harris, a black man, when Thorpe attempts to arrest May Enoch, the girlfriend of Arthur Harris.
August 14, 1900 Thorpe dies.
August 15, 1900 Large crowds of white men gather and rioting begins with indiscriminate attacks towards black people, regardless of age or gender, along with reports of police brutality.
August 16, 1900 Harris is arrested in Washington, D.C. Rioting continues in New York and more blacks are injured by mobs of white men.
August 17, 1900 Rioting ends.
August - December 1900 Accusations of police brutality continue. Tammany Hall is accused of corruption related to the riot.
December 8, 1900 Official report of the Committee of Rules and Discipline of the Police Board is released; no police are found at fault.