Have a question? Need assistance? Use our online form to ask a librarian for help.
Chat with a librarian, Monday through Friday, 12-2 pm Eastern Time (except Federal Holidays).
What began as a detective agency in Chicago grew into a national private police force. The Pinkertons stood against organized labor at nearly every turn from Haymarket to Homestead and famously took down the Molly Maguires, while instilling fear in the hearts of fugitives across the country. 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.
|January 26, 1875||Pinkerton detectives raid a farm house in search of Frank and Jesse James. During the failed raid, the Pinkerton detectives threw a hand grenade into the house, killing their younger brother and severing their mother’s arm.|
|June 21, 1877||7 members of the Molly Maguires are executed due to the testimony of Pinkerton Detective, James McParlan, who successfully infiltrated the Mollies.|
|July 1, 1884||Allan Pinkerton, founder of Pinkerton National Detective Agency, dies in Chicago, IL.|
|July 24, 1886||Andrew Johnson, a Pinkerton detective who had been undercover with the International Workingmen’s Union, is called to testify in the Haymarket bombing trial.|
|July 6, 1892||Pinkerton men are called in by Carnegie to break the Homestead Strike. After a 13 hour firefight, the Pinkertons surrender unconditionally to the strikers.|
|July 8, 1892||Kentucky General Assembly introduces a bill to ban the employment of Pinkertons in Kentucky.|
|July 28, 1892||Billy and Robert Pinkerton are called to testify before Congress about the Homestead incident.|