Discovery of the Clarence Darrow Letters
Many of the letters in the Law Library's Clarence Darrow collection were discovered by Randall Tietjen, a noted Darrow historian and an attorney with Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P. in Minneapolis. Mr. Tietjen became interested in Clarence Darrow in 1991 and began researching Darrow's letters by contacting libraries. During his research into Darrow's life and legal career he went to visit one of Clarence Darrow's granddaughters, Blanche Chase, in Chicago. At this meeting, Blanche and her husband informed Mr. Tietjen that they had found an old box in the basement and asked if he wanted to look through it. The box was stuffed with over a hundred letters written to Darrow by many famous and influential people of the early 20th Century. This discovery led to another search of the basement which revealed an even greater find: in boxes labeled "Christmas ornaments" were hundreds of letters written to and by Clarence Darrow. In addition to the letters, the boxes contained a wide variety of documents and photos. According to Mr. Tietjen, Darrow's granddaughters wanted the letters to be kept together as a collection and be archived in a research institution. The Law Library was very fortunate to acquire these letters in 2004.
As an evolving collection we are continually adding content to this site.
Notes on the transcription of letters
The letters written by Clarence Darrow—as well as letters written to Darrow—have been transcribed as they were written. We have retained Darrow's spelling of words. Those words which we could not decipher are indicated by a question mark. We have inserted punctuation within brackets to enhance readability. Darrow frequently capitalized improper nouns within sentences; generally we have not transcribed those capitalizations.
Many letters include a date written by an unknown person. The University of Minnesota Law Library cannot verify the accuracy of these dates (unless the date is evident from the content of the letter). These dates have not been recorded in the transcribed letter. They have been relied upon, however, in order to organize letters by year. Thus, a letter, for example, with a date of 1919 written on the letter by an unknown person is indexed with letters from 1919.
Dates which are not on the letter but are evident from the content of the letter are enclosed in brackets. Questionable dates are indicated by a question mark.
Some letters have not been transcribed. Transcriptions of these letters will be added to the website as they are prepared.
Researchers who find errors or possible corrections to the transcriptions may contact Michael Hannon at