Monday, Sep 13, 2021

Chicago, Illinois -- From The Executive Director

Dear EDHS family member,

Two years ago, we enthusiastically announced the next chapter in the history of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society (EDHS). We then began the process to transition from being a family-run, not-for-profit organization to becoming a key asset within several iconic Chicago area institutions. Three of these institutions included the Newberry Library, the Chicago Maritime Museum, and the Chicago Genealogical Society (CGS).

This succession plan was created to ensure the long-term stability of EDHS, such that the names, faces, and stories of those affected by the Eastland Disaster would be preserved and shared for generations to come.

While we have made great progress in executing our succession plan over the past two years, today we are announcing a change in direction to one aspect of it: EDHS and CGS have mutually agreed to rescind their March 2019 agreement for CGS to acquire EDHS’s operations. What this will mean is that for an interim period of time, EDHS will revert back to what it was prior to the planned acquisition – a family-run not-for-profit organization. My wife Barbara Decker Wachholz, her sister Susan Decker, and I have agreed to be the directors and officers of EDHS as we work on returning EDHS to its status prior to 2019.

Why are we making this change? Simply put, it is what the Eastland Disaster families – people like you – really want, and need. The change is being made to ensure that the stories of Chicago’s greatest tragedy will be preserved for years to come and live on into the future.

We should add that our agreements with the Newberry Library and the Chicago Maritime Museum (CMM) remain as planned and executed in early 2019. These agreements thereby ensure that the public will continue to have ongoing archival access to the comprehensive collection of EDHS family records, historical documents, and artifacts.

As we start down this new path, we look forward to announcing a new succession plan, once we have identified that important next step. Until then, and as we have been since 1998, we are dedicated and committed to sharing the names, faces, and stories from the Eastland Disaster with you and with future generations. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me as always at 224-764-1284 or

With warm regards,

Ted Wachholz, Executive Director and Chief Historian
Eastland Disaster Historical Society

Please note: Jean Decker, Susan and Barbara's mother and one of the founding family (pictured in the photo above), sadly passed away in October 2015.