Chicago, Illinois -- Hundreds of women lost their lives in the Eastland Disaster, accounting for nearly 60% of the fatalities. The effect of those lives lost rippled through homes and families. Scores of women's lives were devastated from the resulting aftermath: homes and families were left without a husband, father, and breadwinner; infant, adolescent, and young adult daughters grew up without a father, mother, or both; single mothers lost wage-earning children; wives who did their best to cope with husbands who suffered from undiagnosed PTSD; and many other categories of women who suffered and struggled to make the best of a horrific situation.
Josephine Markowski, a 20-year-old employee of Western Electric Company, died, leaving her mother and four siblings at home. Two years prior to the Disaster, Josephine’s father deserted his family, leaving Josephine as the primary breadwinner. While her mother earned money washing clothes, it was not nearly enough to support her family. Josephine’s family received $205 from the emergency relief fund and a charitable award of $1,250 after her young life was cut short.
While the Eastland Disaster ripped apart thousands of families more than 100 years ago, many women today are now playing important and key roles in building the community of people connected to the tragedy.
We would like to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate the many amazing women who have made and continue to make contributions to further EDHS’s mission. These women, in their own right just every day ordinary people, are playing significant roles in helping EDHS right the stories of the tens of thousands of ordinary people who were affected by the Eastland Disaster.