Clarence S. Darrow Papers

Dates: 1912-1956
Size: 1 linear foot, 1 photograph, 2 oversize folders
Repository: Chicago Public Library, Harold Washington Library Center, Special Collections, 400 S. State St., Chicago, IL 60605
Collection Number: Archives_PCD
Provenance: 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. With a grant from the Scholl Foundation, the Special Collections Division of the Chicago Public Library transferred and processed the material in July of 1989. Some duplicate material and photocopied material is available at the Woodlawn Branch of the Chicago Public Library.
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is: Clarence S. Darrow Papers [Box #, Folder #], Special Collections, Chicago Public Library.

Biographical Note

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 Governor Frank Steuneberg of Idaho.

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. Sixtieth Street for a large portion of his adult life. When he died, March 13, 1938, at the age of eighty, his ashes were scattered into the waters of the Jackson Park Lagoon.

Scope and Content

The papers of Clarence S. Darrow (PCD) 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. Darrow’s papers also include personal papers, photographs, newspaper clippings and a report by the National Recovery Review Board. Oversized materials have been separated and are listed below the Series Descriptions.

Series Descriptions:

Series 1: Personal Papers, 1891, 1938

This small series contains some of Darrow’s personal papers. Included among these papers are correspondence, property deeds and warranties.

Series 2: Big Blue Book Series, circa 1920s

The Big Blue Book Series, edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius of Girad, Kansas consists of essays, exegeses and arguments on a variety of subjects. Arrangement of titles in this series is numerical by each issue’s number.

Series 3: Little Blue Book Series, circa 1920s.

Edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius of Girad, Kansas, this series consists of essays, exegeses and arguments by Darrow on a variety of subjects. Arrangement in this series is numerical by each issue’s number.

Series 4: Journal Publications, 1912 - 1938

This series contains journal articles written by Darrow on a variety of subjects ranging from agricultural policy to capital punishment. Darrow’s articles appear in The Rotarion, Plain Talk, Unity, and The Modern World. Arrangement of materials in this series is alphabetical by title of journal article.

Series 5: Newspaper clippings, 1937, 1956, undated

This series contains newspaper clippings concerning Darrow’s activities in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood.

Series 6: Reports, 1935

This series contains a three volume report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, issued by the National Recovery Board.

Non-manuscript materials

Photographs are listed at the end of the Box and Folder Inventory.

Container List

Series 1: Personal Papers

Box 1 Folder 1 Correspondence, deeds, warranties; 1891, 1938

Series 2: Big Blue Book Series

Box 1 Folder 2 B-18 Resist not evil
Box 1 Folder 3 B-20 Clarence Darrow’s plea in defense… Loeb & Leopold
Box 1 Folder 4 B-24 An eye for an eye
Box 1 Folder 5 B-29 Clarence Darrow’s two great trials

Series 3: Little Blue Book Series

Box 1 Folder 6 # 53 Insects and men: instinct and reason
Box 1 Folder 7 # 829 Voltaire: a lecture
Box 1 Folder 8 # 883 Debate on capital punishment
Box 1 Folder 9 # 884 Debate on prohibition
Box 1 Folder 10 # 910 Is life worth living?
Box 1 Folder 11 # 911 Is the human race getting anywhere?
Box 1 Folder 12 # 933 The skeleton in the closet
Box 1 Folder 13 # 934 Realism in literature
Box 1 Folder 14 # 974 The ordeal of Prohibition

Series 4: Journal Publications

Box 1 Folder 15 "Capital punishment? No it fails to get a crime’s causes," The Rotarion (XLIII:5, 1933 Nov, pp. 14-16).
Box 1 Folder 16 "The Lord’s Day Alliance," Plain Talk (II:3, 1928 Mar).
Box 1 Folder 17 Plea of Clarence Darrow in his own defense (1912)
Box 1 Folder 18 Plea of Clarence Darrow in defense of. . .Loeb & Leopold (Chicago: Ralph Fletcher Seymour, [1924]).
Box 1 Folder 19 Resolved: That the human will is free (Debate: George Foster vs. Clarence Darrow, 1918 Apr 7).
Box 1 Folder 20 Unity (CII:1, 1928 Sep. 10, pp. 16-17).
Box 1 Folder 21 Unity (CXXI:6, 1938 May 16).
Box 1 Folder 22 "Who is the farmer’s friend?" Plain Talk (V:5, 1929 Nov).
Box 1 Folder 23 "The war on modern science," The Modern World (I:10, 1927 July, pp. 301-3).

Series 5: Newspaper clippings

Box 2 Folder 1 Newspaper clippings; 1937, 1956, undated
Oversize—PCD 1 "Clarence Darrow’s Sons Says: ‘I Remember Father.’" Newspaper clipping, Chicago Tribune Magazine, 1956 May 6.
Oversize—PCD 2 "Darrow—A Pessimist with Hop—Is Eighty." Unidentified newspaper clipping

Series 6: Reports

Box 2 Folder 2 National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: First report; 1935
Box 2 Folder 3 National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: Second report; 1935
Box 2 Folder 4 National Recovery Review Board: Reports to the President of the United States: Third report; 1935


Portrait & Family Photographs

Photograph 1.1 Clarence Darrow, portrait [See also: Photographs of Darrow’s home in Lawndale: LCCC 1.397, 1.398]
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