Skip to main content

Mooney-Billings Case Collection

Identifier: MS 016

Scope and Content Note

This collection spans the years 1921-1938 and consists of correspondence, financial transactions, audit reports, resolutions, flyers, news releases, booklets, scrapbooks and newspaper articles.

The correspondence file contains copies of letters sent to Governor James Rolph of California from individuals, as well as labor unions, protesting Mooney's incarceration and demanding an unconditional pardon. It also contains flyers, newsletters, and a reprint of the front pages of The Bulletin, a San Francisco newspaper dated May 1, June 26 and 29, 1917.

Folders 2-4 contain original letters of introduction for Leonard Craig, a member of the Molders Local 164 of San Francisco, who toured the country seeking funds and support for Thomas Mooney. Folders 4 and 5 contain small scrapbooks with original letters of introduction.

Folders 6-8 contain transcripts of newspaper articles from December 1931 to May 1932. Folder 9 contains original clippings from various press clipping services.

This collection also contains pamphlets published by groups and individuals who believed in Mooney and Billings' innocence. Most of the information in these publications recounts the perjured testimony and frame-up of Mooney and Billings and subsequent court decisions regarding the case.

Four original scrapbooks with newspaper articles are located in Oversized Box 1. Folders 21-27 contain copies of the articles, which contain news of Mooney's trial and efforts by labor unions and prominent individuals to pardon him.


  • Creation: 1917-1938


Access Restrictions

Open for research without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
Ruth A. Haas Library
Special Collections and Archives
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 203-837-8992
Fax: 203-837-9108

Historical/Biographical Note

Thomas Mooney (1892-1942) was an active labor leader in several labor struggles that turned violent in California before 1916. He was convicted and jailed as a participant in the bomb killings at the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade in 1916. Five persons including Mooney and Warren Billings were arrested for the crime but only Mooney and Billings were convicted. Mooney was sentenced to hang and Billings to life imprisonment. Mooney's case aroused international interest because of the widely held belief in his innocence and the confessions of perjured testimony at his trial. California Governor William D. Stephens, at the behest of President Woodrow Wilson, commuted Mooney's sentence to life imprisonment in November 1918.

Leonard Craig, who was associated with union organizations in San Francisco, attempted to aid Mooney during the trial and worked to free him from prison. Many other organizations and individuals sought unsuccessfully to obtain a new trial for Mooney. For 22 years, Mooney remained in San Quentin prison while successive Governors resisted appeals for a pardon. In January 1939, Governor Culbert L. Olson of California gave Mooney an unconditional pardon. Billings was not officially pardoned until 1961 although he was freed by commutation of sentence in October 1939.


2.25 Linear Feet (, 2 boxes)

Language of Materials



Thomas Mooney (1892-1942) was a labor leader involved in several violent labor struggles in California before 1916. He was convicted and jailed as a participant in the bomb killings at the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade in 1916. The collection includes documentation of the ongoing effort to exonerate Mooney.


Folders are arranged alphabetically.

The files are grouped into 3 series:

Missing Title

  1. I, General
  2. II, Pamphlets
  3. III, Scrapbooks


Professor Herb Janick is believed to have acquired these materials in the 1970s from an unknown source. The creator of the collection is assumed to be Leonard Craig (1986-1973) who lived in Danbury at the end of his life; however, there is no documentation that these were Craig's papers.

Guide to the Mooney-Billings Case Collection
Unverified Full Draft
Mary Rieke with additions processed by Archives staff and Shae Zalenski in April 2018
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Mooney-Billings Case.doc

Repository Details

Part of the Western Connecticut State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Haas Library
181 White St
Danbury 06810 USA US
203.837.8322 (Fax)