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Modern Political Archives (Special Collections): Sue K. Hicks

Guide to the collections at the Modern Political Archives


Early in his career, Dayton, Tennessee lawyer Sue K. Hicks and his brother Herbert were on the defense team during The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas, commonly referred to as the Scopes trial or the Scopes monkey trial.  The trial was a test of state law that made it illegal for Tennessee’s public schools “to teach any theory that denies the story of the divine creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” Big-name lawyers William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow took opposing sides at the trial. Their participation launched a media circus, and The Scopes Trial made the debate on the intersection of science and religion in the public schools explode into an still ongoing global conversation. 

After the trial Hicks went on to serve as a judge in Tennessee and to be active with various civic organizations. He remained interested in the issues involved within the Scopes Trial. Hicks considered Inherit the Wind (the popular play and movie about the trial) a "travesty" and had to be dissuaded by his family from hiring television time to set the story straight.

Digital Collection

Documents and photographs from the Scopes trial, most from Sue K. Hicks' collection, can be found in the Of Monkeys and Men: Public and Private Views from the Scopes Trial digital collection.

Archival Collections

 Sue K. Hicks Papers MPA.0136 

Correspondence, transcripts and newspaper clipping from the Scopes Trial as well as other cases Judge Hicks presided over.

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