Meet the Author – Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster
Patricia Sutton will present her new non-fiction history book for school age children. Following the program, copies will be available for sale for the author to sign.
This program is FREE with museum admission. Members are free.
Registration is encouraged.
Please register for all children and adults planning to attend. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. For non-members admission will be paid upon arrival.
About Capsized!: The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster:
Dramatic narrative, historic photos and maps bring a hair-raising event to life for young readers in Capsized!
CHICAGO: On the morning of July 24th, 1915, employees of Hawthorne Works and their families rushed to board the ship leading to their company picnic; the 2,501 passengers had no way of knowing that “Greyhound of the Lakes” wouldn’t even make it down the Chicago River, but would instead, quite literally, turn their lives upside-down. In a riveting, minute-by-minute account, Capsized! The Forgotten Story of the SS Eastland Disaster (Chicago Review Press; July 1, 2018; ages 10 & up) by Patricia Sutton details the devastating accident for middle grade readers and challenges them to analyze its heart wrenching history.
Employees of Western Electric’s impressive Hawthorne Works plant—many of them first and second-generation Polish and Czech immigrants—looked forward to an extra day of relaxation, and dressed their families in their Sunday best for a celebration in Michigan City, Indiana. Eager to catch the first and fastest boat out, they clambered onto the SS Eastland, called “steady as a church” by its builder but known for teetertottering dangerously by its crew.
Excitement turned to fear as the boat started to tilt and pulled taut on its lines to the dock. Suddenly, the ship overturned and threw its passengers into the river or trapped others within its hull. Onlookers watched in horror as men, women and children struggled to stay afloat, floundering as they searched for safety. Police officers grasped for solutions as survivors screamed for help under the metal siding.
Despite the resilient efforts of rescuers, 844 people died in the disaster. Following the turmoil identification was of the utmost importance, both of the hundreds of bodies pulled from the river—among them a young boy called the “Little Feller” whom no one could claim as their own—and of those of crew responsible for this tragic loss of life. As the city of Chicago went into mourning, survivors asked how, and why, such a tragedy could have occurred.
Capsized! presents the catastrophe of the SS Eastland in a tone appropriate for younger readers, with two maps and diagrams and 30 black and white images to help visualize the chaos of that day. Author and former teacher Patricia Sutton invites middle schoolers to ask why no one was held accountable for the casualties, and how an accident with more passenger fatalities than the Titanic has been forgotten in our history. Released in time for the 103rd anniversary on July 24th, Capsized! remembers the greatest loss of life on the Great Lakes and the lessons learned from the wreck over a century ago.
About the Author:
Patricia Sutton is a former elementary/middle school teacher who coauthored districtwide curriculum for Illinois’s largest school district and was a Golden Apple Award finalist for teacher excellence in the Chicago area. She is a member of SCBWI and lives in Madison, Wisconsin.