St. Mark’s Lutheran Church charters the SS General Slocum for its annual outing. A fire breaks out and is soon exacerbated by a strong headwind that fanned the flames, the failure of the captain to reach shore, faulty life preservers, inaccessible life boats, and a pervasive lack of preparedness. Over 1,000 people—mostly women and children—perish in the worst disaster in New York history prior to 9/11. The tragedy devastates the German community and shocks the nation. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|June 15, 1904||SS General Slocum catches fire and sinks in East River; over 1,000 people die, mostly women and children.|
|June 21, 1904||Sec. of Commerce and Labor George Cortelyou announces federal commission to investigate sinking.|
|June 23, 1904||Slocum relief fund treasuser announces that nearly $97,000 has already been raised; discourages further funding.|
|June 24, 1904||A major benefit at the Grand Opera House raised $3,000 for the relief fund.|
|July 29, 1904||Grand jury returns indictments against several key players of the tragedy.|
|January 27, 1906||Jury finds Captain Van Schaick guilty of criminal negligence and gives the maximum sentence—ten years.|
|July 1906||Sculptor Bruno Zim begins preparation for a marble fountain memorial in Tompkins Square Park.|