Creating two very different document-based interactive websites from a rich period in Chicago's checkered past.

[History of Homicide in Chicago 1870-1930]

[The Life and Times of Florence Kelley in Chicago 1891-1899]

When Leigh Bienen - Senior Lecturer at Northwestern University School of Law and a criminal defense attorney whose areas of expertise include capital punishment, sex crimes, and rape reform legislation - found notice of the discovery of a single handwritten record of some 11,000 homicides in Chicago from 1870-1930, she realized she had a data treasure:


Her team translated this into, first, a Word document, then a dataset, and were about to turn this over to the University of Michigan - until she was convinced it might be a much better idea to build it into a website featuring a database that historians, Chicago history buffs, legal scholars, women's studies scholars and the general public could interact with.The Chicago History Museum volunteered its extraordinary collection of photographs from The Chicago Daily News 1902-1933, and these - along with a tediously-assembled collection of court documents, newspaper clippings, books, etc - provided a rich set of contextual material to make the data come alive. Since it's launch in 2004, the site has seen more than 1 million visitors.

If one is good, then two is better, right? One figure kept emerging from the research by Leigh Bienen into Chicago's past - a little-known figure, Florence Kelley, who worked side-by-side with Jane Addams, of Hull House fame. At the same time, Northwestern University had acquired a Kirtas 2000 high-speed scanner, so suddenly the possibility existed of building a companion website - based on the first - presenting not only the enormous volume of writing and artifacts of Florence Kelley, but also of dozens of books and publications either out-of-print or virtually unknown. 50,000 pages, in total. This became the foundation of the new website: The Archives.


The design aesthetic was based loosely on the original design for the Homicide website [archived here]...


...and then in 2009 the Homicide website was re-designed to bring it into alignment with Florence Kelley:


In 2014 the project returned to the written medium from which it began, with publication of Florence Kelley, Factory Inspector in 1890s Chicago, and the Children (which I also designed/produced).


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