On This Day: The Chicago Iroquois Theatre Fire of 1903

When sparks ignited a fire at the Iroquois Theatre in Chicago in 1903, it was one of the greatest public safety tragedies of the twentieth century. Even though the theater did not take basic safety precautions, no one was held responsible for the fire. The fire ultimately killed more than 600 people—many of them children—at a performance of a musical. Using clips from an author talk, pupils consider who was ultimately responsible for the blaze.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas
  • Offer clips to stimulate a debate on the reforms of the Progressive Era
Classroom Considerations
  • Create a free account or use Username: students, Password: C-SPANCLASSROOM to access the resources
  • Graphic description of the fire may be frightening to some learners
  • This resource is only available on an unencrypted HTTP website. It should be fine for general use, but don’t use it to share any personally identifiable information
  • The author's description is vivid and gripping
  • Clips are short enough to integrate into lessons in a variety of ways
  • None