Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes Trial Photographs
During 1925, Watson Davis (1896-1967), Science Service managing editor, took numerous photographs while covering the State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial as a reporter. In what was dubbed "The Trial of the Century," 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. Almost eighty years later, 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.

Marcel C. LaFollette, an independent scholar, historian and Smithsonian volunteer uncovered these rare, previously unpublished photographs of the 1925 Tennessee v. John Scopes "Monkey Trial" in the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). In 2005, SIA restored fifty-two of the negatives with funds granted by the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Included here are thirty-nine of the images. All of these thirty-nine Science Service photographs were taken by Watson Davis, Managing Editor of Science Service, while he was in Dayton, Tennessee, June 4-5, 1925, and July 10-22, 1925. LaFollette identified and dated each of these images, and has published a new book highlighting these and other images from the trial entitled, Reframing Scopes: Journalists, Scientists, and Lost Photographs from the Trial of the Century, University Press of Kansas, 2008.

Also included are two other groups of images: 1) Portraits of scientists who served as witnesses for the defense in the Scopes Trial taken from the Science Service morgue file; and 2) Donated images taken by William Silverman, a nineteen-year-old business administration major at the Georgia Institute of Technology who went to Dayton, Tennessee, with his former high school science teacher to observe the Scopes trial. Silverman's ten candid photos reflect both a young person’s interest in the famous personalities and recognition of the drama taking place during the trial’s last days. These snapshots add new views of Dayton during the trial.

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