Photographic Views of the Great Springfield Race War, 1908

Photographic Views of the Great Springfield Race War, August, 1908: Depicting Work of Mob's Violence in the Venting of Their Wrath on the Blacks. [Springfield, Illinois]: Press Illinois State Register, n.d., [circa 1908]. 

Oblong 8vo (227 x 148 mm). 17 pages of photographic illustrations. (Tears and hinges repaired with tape.) Original wrappers (some chipping, creases). 

FIRST EDITION of one of the earliest accounts of the mass racial violence committed by a mob of approximately 5,000 white people against the African American community in Springfield, Illinois. On August 14, 1908, a crowd of 3,000 white men gathered downtown to lynch two Black men who were accused of the rapes of white women. When they discovered that they had been removed from the city, the mob attacked the Black neighborhoods and lynched several community members.

An extract from the Illinois State Register of Saturday morning, August 15, 1908, printed on the first page of this pamphlet reports: "Mob law, implacable, inexorable, with justice as its excuse and basing its depredations upon the theory that might makes right, held Springfield in the grasp all last night while a great mob of men, thirsting for revenge...foiled in their early attempt to get the negro prisoners charged with these crimes from the county jail, stoned the troops called out to resists them, defied police and sheriff's deputies, wretched the restaurant and burned the automobile of Harry Loper because he aided in spiriting the negroes away from the city; fought a desperate battle with bullets and fire brands in the negro district, shattered plate glass windows, burned twenty houses before 3, o'clock this morning, and held a general reign of terror, leaving in the wake of riot a long list of dead and injured." 

The introduction states that "the total dead to date numbers six and the wounded are innumerable. The property loss will exceed $200,000," though some estimates put the fatalities as high as 16. The photographs reproduced in the booklet show scenes of where the violence occurred, the aftermath of destruction, people involved, and National Guard troops who came in to combat the violence. Very scarce, OCLC locates only 4 copies and no record of copies selling at auction. 

Estimate: $300 - $500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

Internet Bidding

Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us


Cowan’s cannot guarantee items paid for after November 25 will arrive before December 25. For expedited shipping, we recommend using a third-party shipper. 

Cowan’s Cincinnati Office offers an in-house, full-service shipping department which is unparalleled in the auction industry. Shipping costs are provided with your finalized invoice 24-48 hours after auction. For furniture and oversized items, we recommend using third-party services. For more information, click HERE or contact cowansshipping@hindmanauctions.com.  

NOTE: All pickups and preview are by appointment only. To make an appointment, please call 513-871-1670 or email cincinnati@hindmanauctions.com