The Ingersoll Chronology Project

Robert G. Ingersoll – was a 19th century Freethinker, orator and lawyer extraordinare.  His name was a household word in North America from the 1870’s until after his death in 1899.  If you were a literate American in those times, you knew of Robert Ingersoll, and his frequent lectures defending and advocating freethought.

If you are interested in the life and times of “Colonel Bob”, then you will find a wealth of information here about his career.  If you ever wondered if there is a history of freethought in your area, this resource may very well tell you the answer.

This project has as its goal to document his life and lecture tours, and preserve the public reactions of Robert Ingersoll’s American and Canadian lectures.  Here you’ll be able to see where and when Ingersoll spoke, what he said, and what happened afterwards.  Although this project is well under way, it it is by no means complete.   The total number of lectures that Col. Bob delivered may have numbered as high as 2 thousand, and we currently have almost 1300 listed.  If you would like to help find additional lectures – and help document the history of freethought in America=.

Entries are being added every week, so if you don’t see anything for your area, check back every so often!

The Chronology So Far

Choose one of the following:

Look at the Chronology Statistics page, which lets you look for specific years, states, lectures and events.

Alternatively, you can browse the Complete Chronology


  • “Sixty-five Press Interviews with Robert G. Ingersoll”, American Atheist Press, 2nd edition
  • Ranjit Sandhu, a Buffalo Theatre historian, kindly provided a list of 10 Ingersoll visits to Buffalo, with dates, locations and speeches.
  • Tom Flynn, of the Ingersoll Birthplace Museum contributed photographs of Ingersoll’s Iternary for his Western tour of 1884, which proved to be an enormous assist in documenting this 3 month stretch of time.
  • “Robert G. Ingersoll – A Life”, by Frank Smith, Prometheus Books, 1990, ISBN 0-87975-588-1 – an excellent biography and highly recommended.
  • The Truth Seeker newspaper
  • “Ingersoll: A Biographical Appreciation”, by Herman E. Kittredge, 1911
  • My daughter gave me a copy of “Col. R. G. Ingersoll’s 44 Lectures Complete” for Christmas – thanks Dana!

Getting Involved:

You can add your name or the name of your organization to the Ingersoll chronology.  If you have any new information that will help nail down Colonel Ingersoll’s whereabouts during the period of 1866 to 1899, you can submit it to the chronology.  In return for your efforts, your name will be displayed as part of the event data.  Alternately, you can have your organization’s name or logo displayed.  Your name or logo can also be hot linked to a web site or email address of your choice.  Of course, you can also contribute anonymously, if desired.

Here’s the sort of information that is especially wanted:

  • Lectures that aren’t listed in the chronology.
  • The title of the lecture delivered on certain date, if it is not currently known.
  • Ads for lectures, from old newspapers.
  • Reviews of lectures, from old newspapers.
  • Copies of lithographs or theater programs for Ingersoll lectures.

Here’s how to find more information  (it is as simple as a trip to the library)