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Jul 6, 2006 1:36 pm

Great Chicago Fire

Created by the Chicago Historical Society in collaboration with Northwestern University, this website was designed to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire (1871). Curated by Carl Smith, a professor at Northwestern University, it offers an array of primary sources selected from materials in the Chicago Historical Society and arranged into two sections. “The Great Chicago Fire” examines the fire through five chronological chapters, while a second section, “The Web of Memory,” focuses more specifically on the ways in which the fire has been remembered. This section is organized into six chapters, each devoted to a particular theme, including eyewitness accounts, popular illustrations, journal articles, “imaginative forms such as fiction and poetry and painting,” and the legend of Mrs. O’Leary. Both sections furnish galleries of images and artifacts, primary texts, “special media” such as songs, a newsreel, and an “Interactive Panorama of Chicago, 1858,” and chapter-specific, authoritative background essays that explore the social and cultural contexts of this catastrophe. Also includes a bibliography of 20 sources. A well-designed and easily-navigable site that provides a wide range of diverse sources useful for studying Chicago in late 19th century and the ways that the story of the catastrophe subsequently has been culturally represented.

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