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Russell Sage Dynamite Attack: Topics in Chronicling America

A guide for researching the "Russell Sage dynamite attack" of 1891 in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


HEAD OF THE DEAD BOMB THROWER The Evening World (New York, NY), December 5, 1891, EXTRA 2 O'CLOCK, Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Shortly past noon on December 4, 1891, a massive explosion occurs on Wall Street that shakes all of lower New York. A “madman” throws a bomb made of dynamite into the office of millionaire financier Russell Sage after Sage dismisses the man who tried to extort him for a fortune. 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.


December 24, 1891 Unknown visitor with a satchel and an extortion note arrives at Sage's Wall Street office, then blows himself up; blast heard for miles
December 5, 1891 Bomber's severed head used for identification.
December 12, 1891 Henry L. Norcross is identified as the bomber.
May 26, 1892 Injured clerk William Laidlaw sues Sage for using him as a human shield from explosion.
August 6, 1903 Laidlaw v. Sage ends.
July 22, 1906 Russell Sage dies at the age of 90.
August 8, 1911 William Laidlaw dies penniless.