Nebraska 1924: America’s First Antievolution Trial

About nine months before the Scopes trial took place, there was an evolution trial that took place in Lincoln, Nebraska.  This civil trial, in which a schoolteacher sued for slander after members of a church in the town where he was teaching got him removed from a new job because (they said) he supported the Darwinist theory, never became the public spectacle that the Tennessee case did.  This project will look at the people involved in this trial, how they understood what it meant to be a Darwinist, and what it meant to be a schoolteacher in the American plains at that time.  This project will look more closely at the complex ways that ideas about science and religion were effected by immigration, particularly among the German-American Lutheran Communities involved in this trial shortly after the First World War.  It also examines the way that the very idea of an ‘evolution trial’ became a trope in American legal history and in the history of science and religion.