Memories from The Eastland Disaster

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Program Description

This program is part of Bloomington Reads, a community reading program series which encourages people to read and talk about the same book or, in 2024, the same topic.


Founders of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS) will present an in-depth look at Chicago’s greatest loss-of-life tragedy. Relive the event through 150 photos, several video and audio clips, and lifelike animation. EDHS provides well-researched information, answering the who, what, where, when, and why of the tragedy.

Presenters Susan Decker and Barbara Decker Wachholz listened to their grandmother's story of surviving this disaster as a teenager by staying afloat between decks for hours. Years later, Susan and Barbara assume their grandmother’s role as storytellers. They also include stories of others whose lives intersected on this fateful day.

EDHS Executive Director and Chief Historian Ted Wachholz authored the third book ever written about the Eastland Disaster, titled The Eastland Disaster. Published by Arcadia Publishing and now in its 6th printing, the book combines captivating images with compelling captions taken from firsthand accounts of victims, survivors, heroes, and their families.

Check out a copy of this book in print or borrow it through either Hoopla or Inkie if you wish to read it before the presentation.

Registration is required for those who wish to attend virtually via Zoom and can be completed online below, by calling 309.590.6168, or by visiting the Help Desk on the Library's secnd floor. Those attending in person do not need to register.

Questions about this program can be emailed to Carol or Sara at