Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Photographs Regarding the 1916 Preparedness Day Parade Bombing,
Collection Number: BANC PIC 1905.02825-.02856 -- PIC
31 photographic prints, various sizes.
32 digital objects
The Bancroft Library. University of California, Berkeley.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Information for Researchers
Collection is available for use.
Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish photographs must be submitted
in writing to the Curator of Pictorial Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted
to research and educational purposes.
[Identification of item]
Photographs regarding the 1916 Preparedness Day parade bombing, 1916-1933, BANC PIC 1905.02825-.02856 --PIC, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Digital Representations Available
Title: Carl Hoffman Papers
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 377
Title: Thomas J. Mooney Papers
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 410
Title: Photographs from the Thomas J. Mooney Papers
Identifier/Call Number: BANC PIC 1945.003-PIC
Title: Tom Mooney's Pamphlets
Identifier/Call Number: xF869.S3.9.M87 T63
The Photographs Regarding the 1916 Preparedness Day Parade Bombing were transferred from the Carl Hoffman Papers (BANC MSS
C-B 377), which were purchased in 1947.
During a 1916 Preparedness Day parade in San Francisco, a bomb exploded which killed 10 people and injured 40 others. Following
the subsequent investigation, 5 persons--Tom Mooney, Warren Billings, Rena Mooney (Tom's wife), Israel Weinberg and Edward
D. Nolan--were indicted for murder. Tom Mooney, the first to stand trial, was convicted and sentenced to death. Billings was
then convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Rena Mooney and Israel Weinberg were acquitted, while Nolan was never brought
to trial. Though all incriminating evidence against the defendants was eventually found to have been falsified, the State
Supreme Court declared itself powerless to grant a retrial and referred the decision to California Governor William Dennison
Stephens. After mounting national and international protest against the convictions, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson appointed
a Mediation Commission to investigate the case. After the Commission discredited the verdicts, Stephens commuted Mooney's
death sentence to life imprisonment. Repeated appeals over the years for executive clemency or to reopen the matter before
the Supreme Court all failed until, in 1939, Governor Culbert L. Olson pardoned Mooney and reduced Billings sentence. Billings
was finally pardoned in 1961.
As the Preparedness movement and its many nationwide demonstrations--such as the San Francisco Preparedness Day Parade--sought
to bolster support for the United States' entry into World War I, responsibility for such a bombing was quickly attributed
to the more extreme factions of the labor movement, whose pacifist, anarchistic, or otherwise anti-patriotic sympathies made
them obvious suspects. Prior to their arrests for the bombing, Mooney and Billings were militant trade unionists. Their leadership
involvement in recent strikes and other labor agitation had earned the enmity of the local public utilities officials and
the politicians whose interests sided with these corporations. Mooney and Billings--along with the other defendants, who also
had ties with the labor movement--were thus immediately singled out as the culprits. The investigation of the bombing was
directed by District Attorney Charles M. Fickert--a staunch opponent of the labor movement and close ally of the powerful
United Railroads after his dismissal of graft indictments against its officials--and private detective Martin Swanson--who
had many times earlier, on behalf of many of the local public utilities corporations, failed to convict Mooney and Billings
for other militant labor activities which threatened these corporations. Overwhelming evidence, some of it surfacing immediately
after Mooney's trial and conviction, eventually proved that all incriminating evidence used to establish the original indictments
was fabricated and that all key testimony used against the defendants was perjured. In time, nearly all parties involved in
the original trials --including the presiding justice, the chief of police, a key prosecuting attorney and the trial jurors--demanded
the pardoning of Mooney and Billings. Among the many reasons the Preparedness Day bombing affair has come to be considered
one of the great travesties and embarrassments of American jurisprudence is that--despite consideration of all evidence--the
judicial, legislative and executive branches of California repeatedly failed to adequately redress the injustices suffered
by the defendants.
Scope and Content
The Photographs Regarding the 1916 Preparedness Day Parade Bombing collection contains 31 photographs taken between 1916 and
1933 which document the scene of the San Francisco bombing and many of the individuals and activities associated with the
bombing, trials, and subsequent investigations and attempts at retrial and pardon. Pictured in the collection are Tom Mooney;
Warren K. Billings; Frank C. Oxman, a star witness who submitted perjured testimony against Mooney; Justice John Preston;
District Attorney Matthew Brady; Mooney's attorney Bourke Cochran; investigating attorneys Frank P. Walsh and John F. Finerty;
Labor leader Ed Nockels; Frederick J. Koster, president of The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and their anti-labor Law
and Order Committee; reporters H.R. Hill, Arthur Brisbane and James T. Williams; San Francisco Police Chief Gus White; San
Francisco Police Captain Charles Goff; and family members of both Mooney and Billings. Many of the photographs were taken
on the occasion of Mooney's return to San Francisco Jail from San Quentin Prison in 1933 to stand trial on an undismissed
indictment related to the 1916 bombing.
The collection also includes a clipping from a 1930 San Francisco Post Examiner issue picturing the pardon hearing for Warren
The collection consists almost entirely of press photographs, many of them taken by International News Photos, Inc. The only
identified photographers are C.V. Estey and Howard Robbins.