If all you know about the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial” (1925) is from the play or movie Inherit the Wind, then you have substituted a fanciful fictional account for the historical reality.

Here is a convenient summary of the differences.

The book to read is Edward J. Larson’s 1997 Pulitzer Prize winning history, Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion.

The PBS American Experience documentary (below) is helpful and fairly balanced. It has the added bonus of being able to hear from a woman who was a Dayton resident, whose brother had Scopes for a football coach, and who had a front-row seat to the court proceedings and the town and church meetings.