Clarence S. Darrow Papers

Dates: 1891-1956
Size: 1.75 linear feet in 3 boxes (including 1 photograph), plus 2 oversize folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: spe.pcd
Immediate Source of Acquisition: Funded by the Scholl Foundation, these materials were transferred from the Woodlawn Branch Library in July 1989.
Custodial History: Given Darrow’s prominence and his long affiliation with the Woodlawn neighborhood, the Historical Society of Woodlawn and the library made an effort to collect a portion of his published works and other relevant materials.
Conditions Governing Access: Materials are open without restrictions.
Conditions Governing Use: Please consult staff to determine ability to reuse materials from collection.
Preferred Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Clarence S. Darrow Collection [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.
Finding Aid Author: Original author unknown. Processed, 1989. Updated and ingested into ArchivesSpace by Johanna Russ, 2021.


The collection consists of published works in pamphlet or journal form, and a small amount of correspondence and news clippings.


Clarence Seward Darrow, prominent Chicago trial lawyer, was born in Kinsman, Ohio on April 18, 1857. He attended Allegheny College, after which he studied one year at the University of Michigan Law School. He then worked as a lawyer in Youngstown, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1878. He practiced in Ohio for nine years, before moving to Chicago, where he practiced privately before being appointed assistant corporation counsel for the City of Chicago. For four years he served as Chief Counsel. In 1894 Darrow became the counsel for the Chicago and North Western Railway. He left this job, however, after siding with Unionists who called a strike of the American Railway Union. Darrow defended Eugene V. Debs on a charge of contempt of a federal injunction, and although he lost the case, he went on to become one of the nation’s leading labor advocates. In 1907 he secured the acquittal of labor leader Bill Haywood for the murder of former Idaho Governor Frank Steuneberg.

Darrow defended many others accused of murder, including Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb in 1924 for the murder of Bobby Franks. In 1925 he defended John Scopes in a case involving the teaching of evolution and the constitutionality of a Tennessee anti-evolution statute. Darrow’s opposition in that case was great trial lawyer William Jennings Bryan.

Darrow had a long affiliation with the Woodlawn neighborhood, residing at 1537 E. 60th Street for a large portion of his adult life. When he died on March 13, 1938, at the age of eighty, his ashes were scattered into the waters of the Jackson Park Lagoon.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Clarence S. Darrow consist mostly of his published works, either in pamphlet or in journal form. Included among Darrow’s works are numbers within the "Big Blue Book" and "Little Blue Book" series. These series were edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius of Girad, Kansas, and consist of essays, exegeses and arguments on a variety of subjects. Journal articles written by Darrow also appear. He wrote on a variety of subjects ranging from agricultural policy to capital punishment, and published in The Rotarion, Plain Talk, Unity, and The Modern World, among others. News clippings in this collection concern Darrow’s activities in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. One folder of personal papers, including correspondence, property deeds and warranties, appears. Finally, a three volume report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued by the National Recovery Board is present in the collection.


Files are arranged alphabetically by format. Within the Big Blue Book Series and Little Blue Book Series, titles are arranged sequentially by issue number. Within journal articles, files are arranged alphabetically by article title.


  • Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938
  • Lawyers — Illinois — Chicago
  • United States. National Recovery Review Board
  • Woodlawn (Chicago, Ill.) — History

Related Materials

Collection Inventory

Box 1 Folder 2 Big Blue Book Series - B-18 Resist not evil, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 3 Big Blue Book Series - B-20 Clarence Darrow’s plea in defense… Loeb & Leopold, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 4 Big Blue Book Series - B-24 An eye for an eye, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 5 Big Blue Book Series - B-29 Clarence Darrow’s two great trials, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 15 Journal articles - "Capital punishment? No it fails to get a crime’s causes," The Rotarian, XLIII:5, pp. 14-16, 1933 November
Box 1 Folder 16 Journal articles - "The Lord’s Day Alliance," Plain Talk, II:3, 1928 March
Box 1 Folder 17 Journal articles - Plea of Clarence Darrow in his own defense (1912)
Box 1 Folder 18 Journal articles - Plea of Clarence Darrow in defense of. . .Loeb & Leopold, Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, [1924]
Box 1 Folder 19 Journal articles - Resolved: That the Human Will is Free (Debate: George Foster vs. Clarence Darrow), 1918 April 7
Box 1 Folder 20 Journal articles - Unity, CII:1, pp. 16-17, 1928 September 10
Box 1 Folder 21 Journal articles - Unity, CXXI:6, 1938 May 16
Box 1 Folder 22 Journal articles - "Who is the farmer’s friend?" Plain Talk, vol. 5, 1929 November
Box 1 Folder 23 Journal articles - "The war on modern science," The Modern World, I:10, pp. 301-3, 1927 July
Box 1 Folder 6 Little Blue Book Series - #53 Insects and men: instinct and reason, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 7 Little Blue Book Series - #829 Voltaire: a lecture, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 8 Little Blue Book Series - #883 Debate on capital punishment, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 9 Little Blue Book Series - #884 Debate on prohibition, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 10 Little Blue Book Series - #910 Is life worth living?, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 11 Little Blue Book Series - #911 Is the human race getting anywhere?, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 12 Little Blue Book Series - #933 The skeleton in the closet, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 13 Little Blue Book Series - #934 Realism in literature, 1930s
Box 1 Folder 14 Little Blue Book Series - #974 The ordeal of Prohibition, 1930s
Box 2 Folder 1 Newspaper clippings; 1937, 1956, undated
Oversize folder 1   Newspaper clipping, "Clarence Darrow’s Sons Says: ‘I Remember Father.’" Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1956 May 6
Oversize folder 2   Newspaper clipping, "Darrow, A Pessimist with Hop, Is Eighty," publication unknown, [1938]
Box 1 Folder 1 Personal papers - Correspondence, deeds, warranties; 1891, 1938
Box 3 Photograph 1.1 Photograph - Clarence Darrow, portrait, undated
Box 2 Folder 2 Report - National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: First report; 1935
Box 2 Folder 3 Report - National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: Second report; 1935
Box 2 Folder 4 Report - National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: Third report; 1935
Print this page