The Newberry Library Colloquium

‘A Diabolical Murder’: The Clan, Cronin, and Chicago in the Gilded Age
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

4 – 5 pm

Towner Fellows’ Lounge

Dr. Gillian O’Brien, Senior Lecturer in History, Liverpool John Moores University; 2009 Fulbright Fellow, Newberry Library

On May 22, 1889 the naked body of a badly beaten man was pulled from a sewer in Lake View. Over the course of the next eight months details of the murder of Dr. Patrick Cronin dominated the newspapers in Chicago and spread across the English-speaking world. Cronin’s funeral was the largest Chicago had seen since Lincoln’s cortege passed through the city in 1865. Wax-works of the dead body and those accused of the murder became popular attractions and visitors to the murder scene could purchase their own blood-stained piece of memorabilia for a dime. The sensational story behind the murder and the trial tarnished the reputation of both the Chicago police and the judiciary, and shook the foundations of Irish republicanism. This paper explores the reasons why the murder of an Irish doctor became known as ‘the crime of the century’ and considers its impact on Irish republicanism in the United States, Britain, and Ireland.

The Newberry Library Colloquium is a weekly gathering of Newberry staff members, fellows, scholars-in-residence, and readers on Wednesday afternoon. Refreshments are available at 3:30 pm and an informal presentation begins at 4 pm, followed by discussion. The talks are varied, but all relate to the Newberry collections in some way. Speakers may describe a current research project, highlight a particular collection, or discuss one of the Library’s many ongoing or special programs. The Colloquium is open to the public and no reservations are required.

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