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The Scopes Trial

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This collection of photographs provides insight into the Scopes Trial in 1925. "Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered rare, unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee vs. John Scopes “Monkey Trial" in the Smithsonian Institution Archives. The nitrate negatives, including portraits of trial participants, and images from the trial itself and significant places in Dayton, were discovered in archival material donated to the Smithsonian by Science Service in 1971."

"Science Service is a Washington, D.C.-based organization founded in 1921 for the promotion of science writing and information about science in the media. Watson Davis (1896-1967), the Science Service managing editor, took these photographs when covering the Scopes trial as a reporter. In the 1925 trial, John Scopes was tried and convicted for violating a state law prohibiting the teaching of the theory of evolution. William Jennings Bryan served on the prosecution team, and Clarence Darrow defended Scopes."

Collection users might consider the following questions:

-How effective are court cases at swaying popular opinion? Can you think of other examples of this?

-How did this trial reflect the changes in mass media, science, and religion occurring in the 1920s?

-It is said that Bryan "won the case, but lost the argument." What is meant by that statement?

-How do these archival photographs challenge previously held conceptions of the case?

Source for text in quotes throughout collection: Smithsonian Institution Archives. Web. Accessed 16 Aug. 2016 http://siarchives.si.edu/research/scopes.html.

Horatio Hackett Newman (1875-1957)

Smithsonian Institution Archives