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Topics in Chronicling America - Los Angeles Times Bombing and the Dynamite Conspiracy

At 1:07 A.M. an explosion rips through the offices of the Los Angeles Times. In the ensuing fire many fell to their deaths by jumping out windows to escape the fire, while even more could not escape the flames. 21 people died in the explosion and fire, but the investigation revealed the Dynamite Conspiracy, which was linked to more than 100 bombings across the country. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


Picture of the bombers

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • October 1, 1910. An explosion tears through the offices of the Los Angeles Times, killing 21 people. LA Times officials immediately blame organized labor.
  • October 28, 1910. California State Federation of Labor releases a report concluding that the explosion was caused by a gas leak, not by dynamite.
  • April 12, 1911. James McNamara and Ortie McManigal are arrested in Detroit and taken to Chicago.
  • April 13, 1911. Ortie McManigal confesses to the LA Times bombing and provides evidence against McNamara.
  • April 22, 1911. John McNamara is arrested by detective William Burns in Indianapolis, IN and quickly extradited to California with his brother James and Ortie McManigal.
  • April 26, 1911. William Burns is arrested in Indianapolis, IN for the kidnapping of John McNamara.
  • December 1, 1911. John McNamara pleads guilty to first degree murder in the LA Times bombing and his brother James pleads guilty to bombing the Llewellyn Iron Works.
  • February 14, 1912. Nearly all of the fifty-four defendants indicted in connection with the “Dynamite Conspiracy” are arrested.
  • August 17, 1912. Clarence Darrow is found not guilty of bribing a juror during the McNamara trial.
  • December 28, 1912. Thirty-eight union officials are found guilty on charges related to the LA Times and other bombings, namely illegal transportation of explosives across state lines. Among the convicted was Frank Ryan, President of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Los Angeles Times, Dynamite Conspiracy, dynamiter, John J. McNamara, James B. McNamara, William Burns, International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers, Ortie McManigal, Clarence Darrow, Samuel Gompers, Llewellyn Iron Works, and Dupont Powder Works.
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.
  • Be prepared to differentiate between articles about other labor trials, such as the Haywood trial for which Clarence Darrow was also defense counsel.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  July 2, 2014
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