Introduction – The Indianapolis Monkey Trial

Peter Davenport, Editor

As the thunderstorm rumbled into Indianapolis from the corn and soybean sea, a different kind of storm was brewing in my grandparents’ apartment. It was mid-July 1982 and my cousins and I had been forced inside by the approaching wind and rain. Corralled in the den so the adults could talk in the living room, we boys gathered around the TV screen. Flipping dully through the static-filled channels, bickering over the choices, we settled on a nature program. The subject was Jane Goodall and chimpanzees.

The show struck a chord with me. I had learned about evolution in sixth grade that year, specifically about humanity’s close genetic ties to the Great Apes. I was also twelve and a know-it-all. Goodall and her Gombe chimps presented a fresh opportunity to shine.