Rethinking trial of Haymarket anarchists topic of Feb. 25 lecture

February 21, 2013 | Events, UToday, Law
By Rachel Phipps

Dr. Timothy Messer-Kruse, a professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies at Bowling Green State University, will visit the UT College of Law to address his work to uncover new evidence and revise long-held interpretations of the famed 1886 Haymarket Bombing in Chicago, as well as his unlikely battle to make a small edit to the Wikipedia page on the subject.



His free, public lecture, “Rethinking the Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists,” will be held Monday, Feb. 25, at noon in the Law Center McQuade Auditorium.

On May 4, 1886, a labor rally in Chicago turned deadly when a bomb was thrown at police officers. The subsequent trial of eight Chicago anarchists for the death of patrolman Mathias Degan was one of the most followed and controversial trials of the Gilded Age. For more than a century afterward, historians have characterized the Haymarket trial as amounting to little more than a show, with a biased judge, illegally obtained evidence, perjured testimony and a hand-picked jury.

Messer-Kruse has written two recent books — The Haymarket Trial: Terrorism and Justice in the Gilded Age and The Haymarket Conspiracy: Transatlantic Anarchist Networks — debunking many of the longstanding myths surrounding this famous event. The former title was named the Best Labor History Book of 2012 by the journal Labor History and awarded its annual book prize.

In his lecture, Messer-Kruse will re-examine the procedures, contemporary standards and evidence of the landmark Haymarket trial. He also will discuss his battle to edit the Wikipedia page on the subject, a story he has shared with media outlets, including NPR and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“While perhaps little known today, the Haymarket trial is one of the most notorious trials in U.S. history,” said Daniel J. Steinbock, dean of the College of Law. “With its combination of revisionist history and a Wikipedia angle, this talk promises a fascinating insight into both the 19th and 21st centuries.”

While his area of specialization is in the field of U.S. labor history, Messer-Kruse has published on a diverse array of subjects, including race relations, the invention of corporate lobbying, and class conflict in early auto racing.

Messer-Kruse received his PhD in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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