The Hartford Circus Fire

Essay by Michelle_1B, September 2014

download word file, 3 pages 0.0

The Hartford Circus Fire was a turning point: it revolutionized fire codes and

fireproofing, mass tort law and arbitration, and allowed for more technology sharing

between the military and commoners. We encountered a teacher from MN last year who

teaches for the circus. She told us about the Hartford Circus Fire, which immediately

intrigued us because of our relationship with a fellow church member and great, great,

great granddaughter of P.T. Barnum. As we learned more about it, we quickly realized

this event had far-reaching effects beyond just Connecticut.

We first read Stewart O'Nan's book, The Circus Fire; a True Story of an

American Tragedy and others. We then went to the Connecticut State Library and

Archives seven times, and found newspaper articles, court cases, pictures, and survivor

accounts. We read, The Great Harford Circus Fire, A Creative Settlement of Mass

Disasters, and then interviewed Judge Henry Cohn, an author.

Judge Cohn allowed us to

research mass tort cases in the Superior Court's law library. Our friend, Mrs. Biggs, put

us in contact with Ms. Kathy Maher, curator of the Barnum museum. We had a private

interview, giving us background information about Barnum and his traveling menagerie.

We attended a workshop at the Old Connecticut State House where we obtained the idea

for the turning panels on our board. We went to the Connecticut Historical Society and

found many items, including a program from the day of the fire, as well as a peanut bag.

Rebecca Taber-Conover led us to former chief Mr. Charles Teale, who shared many

stories and fact about the fire and told us about Connecticut and National fire codes.

Later, we called Mr. Richard Epps to get a first hand interview from a survivor. We

visited survivor Mrs. Joan Conlin Homa and interviewed her about...