HPL Marks 69th Circus Fire Anniversary Today

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circusfireToday marks the 69th anniversary of the tragic Hartford Circus Fire, a sad anniversary being remembered at the Hartford Public Library. Besides its kickoff of the Adult Summer Reading Program, the library is also launching its circus fire  “scrapbook project” as well. 

The library is collecting memorabilia, personal recollections, drawings and other reflections on the fire and its aftermath. The community-wide project will not only be circulated at library branch locations through the city but will be archived in the Hartford History Center next year as part of the 70th anniversary of the fire, considered one of the most catastrophic civic tragedies in the city’s history.

Also, today at 2 p.m., the library will welcome well-known journalist/author  Michael Daly and author Bruce MacNab who will discuss their books, “Topsy” and  “The Metamorphosis, The Apprenticeship of Harry Houdini” at a special reading program event. The two will not only talk about their books (both of which have Connecticut connections)  but will take questions from the audience. There is a book-signing after the program as well.

I will be moderating the event and not only am I excited about meeting the two authors, but about getting out of my house, the only one on the street, I think, that does not have air conditioning!  The library does!

Please join us.


PS: For those who asked, the family who died in the circus fire and lived in my Plainville home at the time were Edwin and Olive Snelgrove.  He was an assistant secretary at the Atkins Printing Co. in New Britain. Another Plainville family also died in the fire. Mrs. Frank Brooks and her children Dorothy Brooks, James Brooks and George Brooks, who lived in Pershing Drive,  were among those who also lost their lives in the fire that day.  Other Plainville residents who died in the fire that day were Hortense and Walter “Brick” Murphy who lived on Crown Street. He was an assistant pharmacist at Liggett’s Drugstore in New  Britain  and was a correspondent for the Hartford Times.


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One thought on “HPL Marks 69th Circus Fire Anniversary Today

  1. Jeanne

    Wondering why the HPL did not include the authors of A Matter of Degree, the nonfiction book about the fire. After all, those two men were responsible for creating the Circus Fire Memorial at the Wish School, which we visit every year out of respect for those who died in the blaze. Even Cirque de Soleil performers visit the site privately when they come to Hartford…but the HPL ignored those men in favor of one who wrote fiction and another who wrote about Houdini and illusion. Quite surprising, seems to me, given the importance of the anniversary date.

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