PINKERTON NATIONAL DETECTIVE AGENCY
Allan Pinkerton emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1842, when he was 23 years old; he soon settled in the town of Dundee, northwest of Chicago. By the beginning of the 1850s, Pinkerton and a partner had established the North-Western Police Agency, which had its offices at Washington and Dearborn Streets in Chicago. One of the first private detective agencies in the United States, this company worked for the Illinois Central and other railroads. By late 1850s, Pinkerton employed 15 operatives. During the Civil War, the company provided intelligence to the Northern armies that was not particularly accurate. After the war, promoting itself with the slogan “we never sleep,” the company opened offices in New York City and Philadelphia. Much of its business came from banks and express companies, who wanted to deter robberies. Starting in the 1870s, Pinkerton detectives also began to work for industrial companies as spies and strikebreakers, and they quickly became despised by American labor. The company's most infamous strike-busting operation came in 1892, when 300 Pinkerton employees fought with workers at the Homestead, Pennsylvania, steel plant owned by Andrew Carnegie. When the two sides exchanged gunfire, nine strikers and seven Pinkerton agents were killed. By the time Allan Pinkerton died in 1884, his sons William and Robert Pinkerton were leading the company, which had about 2,000 full-time employees and several thousand “reservists.” (Adapted from http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2813.html)
This archive contains many works by Allan Pinkerton himself, as well as archive files from the agency. These documents give a valuable insight into the working of America's most noted detective agency, and into Pinkerton's own views and approaches to various types of crimes, illustrating the role crime--and what crimes--were at the forefront of American concerns.
Pinkerton, Allan. General Principles of Pinkerton's National Police Agency. Geo. H. Fergus, Printer, 1867
Pinkerton, Allan. The Expressman and the Detective: by Allan Pinkerton. W. B. Keen, Cooke & Co., 1874
General Principles of Pinkerton's National Detective Agency. Jones Printing Company, 1878
Pinkerton, Allan. The Bankers, Their Vaults, and the Burglars: by Allan Pinkerton. Fergus Printing Company, 1873