Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Gallery : How Chicagoans Remember Their History
How Chicagoans Remember Their History
What We All Know: Icons of Memory
Reproduction of Memory
Institutions of Memory
Forgetting, Misremembering, and Contesting Memories
Case Study: Jean Baptiste Point DuSable
Case Study: Fort Dearborn
Case Study: Fort Dearborn
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Juliette Kinzie's Wau-Bun, 1856

The predominant popular understanding of the 1812 Fort Dearborn conflict has been formed by Juliette Magill Kinzie's Wau-Bun: The Early Day in the Northwest, first published in 1856. Wau-Bun recounted Kinzie's experiences in Chicago from 1833 as well as Kinzie family stories heard from her mother-in-law. In the early 20th century historian Milo M. Quaife found Kinzie's account unreliable in its account of Fort Dearborn, as it relied on family stories that exaggerated the role of some participants and was unfairly biased against others. Over time Quaife came to realize that despite his findings, the literary appeal of Kinzie's book was likely to retain its power over the popular imagination of Chicagoans.

See also: Chicago in the Middle Ground; Fort Dearborn; Literary Careers; Literary Images of Chicago; Year Page: 1812

Fort Dearborn, c.1856

After Chicago became a city in 1837, it grew rapidly around the edges of the second Fort Dearborn, built in 1816. The fort persisted until 1857, when Chicago had a population of more than 80,000. It was thus still a feature of the landscape when Juliette Kinzie's Wau-Bun (1856) was published, and people with direct memory of the fort lived into the 20th century.

See also: Land Use; Loop; Public Works, Federal Funding for

Commemoration in a Cornerstone

Clarence Burley, president of the Chicago Historical Society in 1922, remembered seeing the second Fort Dearborn before its demolition in 1857, and he described his memory of the fort and the Chicago River in remarks made at ceremony at the laying of the cornerstone of the London Guarantee and Accident Co. In 1971 the City of Chicago designated the site of Fort Dearborn a city landmark, and installed bronze plaques in the sidewalk at Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive.

See also: Chicago River; City as Artifact; Skyscrapers