Primary Source Learning: Chicago Anarchists & the Haymarket Affair

The Anarchist Riot in Chicago - A Dynamite Bomb exploding among the police

Haymarket Affair Digital Collectionpresents original manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, prints and artifacts regarding the Haymarket Affair, an 1886 conflict between labor protestors and members of the Chicago police force. Materials document the events leading up to the May 1886 riot, the arrest and trial of those accused of throwing a bomb that killed several police officers, and the appeal process for those convicted of the bombing, including the eventual pardon of those convicted. This collection is held by the Chicago History Museum. The Collection Connections resource, originally created by the Library of Congress, provides numerous ideas for primary source activities using digital collection items.

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This collection is now housed exclusively on the Chicago History Museum website and you will need to browse that collection to find items mentioned in the Collection Connection activity ideas.

Collection Connections: primary source activity ideas


  • Historical Context: Industrialization and Urbanization in the Post-Civil War United States
  • The Labor Movement and its Radicalization
  • The Eight-Hour Workday Movement
  • The McCormick Riot
  • The Haymarket Riot
  • The Trial: State of Illinois v. August Spies, et al.
  • The Appeal, Execution, and Pardon (by Governor John Peter Altgeld)

Critical Thinking

  • Chronological Thinking: varying perspectives
  • Historical Comprehension: controversies
  • Historical Analysis and Interpretation: illustrating events
  • Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making: considering alternatives
  • Historical Research Capabilities: further insights

Arts & Humanities

  • Image Analysis: symbolism
  • Public Speaking: courtroom speeches
  • Radical Rhetoric: socialist and anarchist newspapers
  • The Press and the Labor Movement: role of journalism
  • American Literature: William Dean Howells and the Haymarket Affair

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