Primary Sources

These are a few of the primary documents that are available from the Tinker family.  There are more, and we are making those available online as well.  If you have primary documents about the case, please send them to us at!

This Des Moines Register article from November, 1965 tells covers the peace march in Washington DC that was attended by John Tinker and his mother, Lorena Jeanne Tinker, as well as Chris Eckhardt and his mother, Maggie Eckhardt.   Bonnie Tinker, the older sister of Mary Beth and John, is also featured holding the sign, Stop the bloodshed Iowa”.  Heading back to Iowa after the rally, participants traveled in two vans.  On one of the vans, the idea of wearing black armbands was raised by Herbert Hoover, an Iowa Quaker and distant cousin of past president Herbert Hoover. At the rest stop, the idea was discussed with those riding in the other van, who agreed that it was a good idea.

Iowans DM Reg

Here is an announcement to the Unitarian Church, where several students, including Chris Eckhardt, attended.  Other students, including the Tinkers, were members of its youth group.  The Tinkers spent their early years in the Methodist churches where their father was a minister.  In 1962,   the Tinker family became involved with the Quakers, and several of the armband participants, including Perry Hutchison, as well as Paul & Hope Tinker, were part of the Quaker youth group.

Announcement made about plan for armbands, at the Unitarian Church 12:12:65

Lorena Jeanne Tinker notes, week of 12:16:65

This is the notice that was passed out in December, 1965 to let students and others know about the upcoming action.

_We Mourn_

This is how everyone found out that black armbands were to be banned in the Des Moines public schools.  John delivered the papers on his daily route that morning

DM Reg 12:15:65

A “pink pass” similar to one given Mary Beth on 12/16 by her math teacher, Mr. Moberly:

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 10.53.33 AM

The suspension notice given to Mary Beth by the Girls’ Adviser, Mrs. Tarman, after Mary Beth took off her armband:

Harding suspension notice '65

Great letter from Chris Eckhardt letter to President Johnson, Jan. ’66

Chris Eckhardt recalls the events of 12/65, in an article of the Bill of Rights Network  ?date

Tinker artifacts (dragged)

(Chris Eckhardt article, page 2)

Tinker artifacts (dragged) 2

Here is an interview in April 29, 1998 with Chris Eckhardt, John and Mary Beth by the American Bar Association’s Division for Public Education.

Here is an article from June, 1992 by family friend, Sherry Hutchison, in  the newsletter of the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, the Quaker group where Mary Beth and John were members.

Bruce Clark, one of the principle organizers of the Des Moines armband action, was a high school senior at Roosevelt High School.  He wrote this on 12/16/65, the first day that students were suspended.  Before this incident at gym class, Bruce had been in the office in with Chris Eckhardt, who was then suspended for wearing an armband.

Bruce Clark, 12:16

This is a petition that Mary Beth circulated before and after classes on December 16, the day she was suspended. Students at other school circulated the same petition.

Petition 12:65

John Tinker was suspended on 12/17, along with Bruce Clark and Chris Singer.  Here is his testimony about that day, presented during the District Court trial that July:

John Tinker testimony, 7:25:66

Des Moines Register article, 12/17/65

Wear black armband dm reg

Lorena Jeanne Tinker’s notes, week of 12/16/65 (at John Tinker website, other ‘Tinker” info as well)

An article about the school board taking up the armband issue:

“Armbands on Board Agenda” Des Moines Register 12:19:65

The haters heckled the kids & their families.  Here’s a postcard sent to Leonard Tinker:

Hate mail

And, the front side of the postcard

Hate mail addressed

And, here’s a letter from someone, James Hiers,  who was really mad when we won our case:

But not everyone was opposed.    Lieutenant Corporal Harry M Corry wrote a support letter to the editor of the DM Register soon after the ban on armbands was announced.  ?date

Lt. Corpl Harry M Corry

Chris exercised his First Amendment rights with a letter to LBJ, 1/25/66

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.55.14 AM

Later, in court that July, Mary Beth & John’s mother took these notes:

 District Court trial notes, 7:25-7:26:66 by Lorena Jeanne Tinker, mother of John & MB

When we lost at the District Court, our families decided to appeal the case:

Screen Shot 2018-09-19 at 11.56.31 AM

And, here is the file that was submitted to the Supreme Court for review.  It includes transcripts that came before the actual Supreme Court argument in November, 1968: Tinker v Des Moines court docs

The story continues, so stay tuned for more primary sources….!