Reading Company file related to the Pinkerton Detective Agency

About this collection

Reports and billings for Pinkerton detectives employed by Franklin B. Gowen, president of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad, on three different missions. The first involved violence in the Anthracite Coal Region, 1873-1880. James McParlan was commissioned to infiltrate the alleged Molly Maguires, a secret Irish organization that practiced retributive murders and beatings against bosses and rival ethnic gangs. Two other agents were sent to collect information and infiltrate the miners’ union during the Long Strike of 1875, and Robert J. Linden was sent to organize a company police force to protect property and arrest suspects. Gowen also had Pinkertons shadow a committee of the state legislature investigating the Reading’s activities during the strike. Lastly, Gowen used Pinkertons to track lobbyists of the rival Pennsylvania Railroad and legislators suspected of receiving bribes to have the state assume the claims arising out of riot damage during the great 1877 railroad strike and to report on the progress of their trials in 1880.

    Note: This online collection includes the Molly Maguire materials in Hagley Library’s collection of Reading Company records (with the exception of 8 volumes of stenographic reports of trial proceedings for John Donohue, Patrick Hester, Martin Bergen, James McDonnell and Charles Sharpe).
    The Reading Company collection has not been digitized in its entirety. Click here for a detailed description of the Pinkerton detective case files. For more information on the Reading Company records, click here to view the finding aid.

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