Annual Report

This prompt asks you to write a small research paper around a single source: the Annual Reports of the General Superintendent of Police of Chicago from 1901-1904. You can download it here or by clicking on the title.

This is a document from the Progressive Era. It reflects a major industrial city in transition to more modern methods of management and administration. Automobiles have appeared. They have telephone connections. The movie industry has just started: recorded music is becoming common. They have professional baseball teams, and commercial amusement parks, and tens of thousands of immigrants arriving everyday from Europe and from the US. They have a very large and persistent homeless problem which they are trying to address–the police stations were still regularly used to house homeless people, especially in the winter. They have a whole department devoted to the maintenance of feed for the many animals the police use. They are just trying out fingerprints as a method of tracking suspects. They worry about bomb-throwing anarchists, and large strikes that have the potential to turn violent The Chief, Francis O’Neill, explicitly endorses interrogation methods we would term torture.

There is a lot in these reports, so there are many many potential topics you could investigate. Maybe ask your self “what historical question am I trying to answer?” For example “how were women treated at the dawn of the 20th century? or “how did they understand the causes of crime?” Did they have the same kind of crime? Also you can use the report to get a look at who was being arrested and for what crimes–how did it breakdown by race and ethnicity?

The document is word searchable, but it you should not rely entirely of word search, and don’t just limit yourself to one term. Try multiple terms that might seem relevant