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Marcia Danits papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Danits

Scope and Content of the Collection

Original courtroom drawings by Marcia Danits, as well as an assortment of non-courtroom works, approximately 1969-2014.

Courtroom sketches in the collection (primarily colored pencil on paper) are largely those done for Chicago CBS News affiliate WBBM-TV and other news outlets. Hearings covered by Danits include both criminal and civil cases. Danits’ first assignment was the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial, the sketches from which are included in the collection. Additional trials feature well-known figures including politicians like Rod Blagojevich, George Ryan, and Edward V. Hanrahan; celebrities like Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, and Oprah Winfrey; and other high-profile defendants like John Wayne Gacy, Jon Burge, and Jeff Fort, as well as thousands of lesser-known individuals. The order of the collection is alphabetical, as found, typically by defendant’s name though occasionally by topic. Many sketches identify pictured individuals such as attorneys, judges, and witnesses. Included in the courtroom works are groupings of judges, juries, and specific courts (i.e., bankruptcy court) sketches, organized by the artist. The sketches come from various courtroom contexts, including trials, sentencing hearings, bond hearings, etc. Terms were assigned to the best of the processor’s knowledge but might not always reflect the specific circumstances depicted in the works. Interfiled are also a small amount of news outlet assignments outside of the courtroom, such as an Amtrak train ride during a 1980s oil crisis, reported by John Callaway.

The collection also features a smaller amount of personal artwork by Danits not made for news outlets. These include portraits, landscapes, and sketchbooks with a variety of paint and illustration materials.


  • Creation: 1969-mid 2010s



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Marcia Danits papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Marcia Danits papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of creator

American courtroom sketch artist, painter, and illustrator.

Marcia Danits was born in Chicago, where she graduated from Von Steuben Metropolitan High School. She completed two years of college before marrying and having two sons. After a period of doing commercial art and design work, Danits’ brother-in-law Bill Robbins, a director at WBBM-TV News, recommended that the station use her as a courtroom artist. Her courtroom art career then began with the 1969 Chicago Seven conspiracy trial. Danits returned to school in 1980 and graduated from the School of the Art Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She continued to work for WBBM-TV and other stations as a single mother, documenting a vast array of criminal and civil cases. Danits also illustrated non-courtroom stories, such as an Amtrak train ride during a 1980s oil crisis, reported by John Callaway. In addition to her BFA, she has gone on to earn a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Chicago. Honors from her career include three Emmy nominations for courtroom art, a Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and an award from Wisconsin Women in the Arts.


125.9 Linear Feet (75 oversize boxes)


Courtroom sketches by Marcia Danits, a Chicago artist who worked for WBBM-TV among other news outlets. Also includes non-courtroom artworks in pen, pencil, and different types of paint. Courtroom sketches span from 1969 to the mid-2010s.


Materials are arranged in the following series:

Series 1: Courtroom sketches, 1969-Mid-2010s
Boxes 1-71
Series 2: Artworks
Boxes 72-74
Series 3: Oversize
Box 75

Collection Stack Location

2 48 8-10


Gift, Marcia Danits, 2023.

Processed by

Ben Weinstein, 2024.

The Marcia Danits papers were donated to the Newberry Library by the artist in approximately 30 boxes. The courtroom sketches were organized alphabetically, typically by the last name of the defendant(s), though occasionally also by topic or the names of other parties. Within each case, sketches have been kept in the order in which they were received. Some cases were rearranged by the processing archivist to more accurately conform to the overall alphabetical sequence. Non-courtroom artworks were grouped together in one box.

Marcia Danits papers, 1969-mid 2010s
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States