Pictured in the center is August Spies. Arranged around him, starting in the upper left and moving clockwise, are Albert Parsons, Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe, George Engel, Adolph Fischer, Louis Lingg, and Michael Schwab. To see larger portraits of each of them, roll the cursor over the individual images in this composite image.

Like most Chicago anarchists, six of these men were German (Neebe was born in New York, but raised in Germany). Albert Parsons's ancestors came to America in the seventeenth century in the second voyage of the Mayflower, and Samuel Fielden had been a Methodist preacher in his native England. They were all working men, though all but Fischer, Lingg, and Schwab owned their own businesses. Parsons, Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab, if hardly of one mind, were more moderate than the other three in that they were more willing to work with unions and were devoted to the eight-hour movement. All preached the gospel of dynamite, but Lingg was the only one who was known to have made bombs, though some evidence suggests that Engel and Fischer did, too.

The hand holding a torch is a conventional symbol of truth, knowledge, and liberty. Other contemporary examples of this convention include the Statue of Liberty lighting the way to the shores of freedom. This famous symbol of America, a gift from France, was dedicated in New York harbor in October 1886, shortly after the Haymarket trial. It is very possible that this composite photograph was created either during the trial or after the verdict by or for those sympathetic to the defendants.