Fresh scope

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    Archive photograph shows Darwinism in the dock.

    This photograph, taken on 20 July 1925, is one of 52 previously unpublished pictures of the ‘monkey trial’, in which the state of Tennessee found John Scopes guilty of teaching evolution. The negatives have just been restored by the Smithsonian Institution Archives in Washington DC.


    Marcel LaFollette, an independent historian, stumbled across the images while doing unrelated research. They were among 475 boxes of material donated to the archive in 1971 by the Science Service, a Washington-based group that promotes science in the media. Watson Davis, later director of the service, took the informal shots while reporting on the case.

    Scopes was being tried for teaching evolution after it had been banned earlier that year. This image was taken after hot weather caused the proceedings to move outdoors, and it shows prosecutor William Jennings Bryan (seated at the left) being interrogated by Scopes’ defence lawyer Clarence Seward Darrow.

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    Fresh scope. Nature 436, 451 (2005) doi:10.1038/436451a

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