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Professor’s Website on Forgotten Ohio Tragedy Earns Award

February 12, 2018


Filmmaker Daniel Houghton '04 and scholar Michael Newbury worked with students to create an award-winning website on the Collinwood Fire, a disaster that took place in Cleveland in 1908. Photo by Brett Simison.

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A website created by Professor Michael Newbury, Arts Technology Specialist Daniel Houghton, and a team of Middlebury students has won an award for its innovative exploration of a tragic schoolhouse fire in Cleveland in 1908. The Popular Culture Association (PCA) has recognized their work with its Electronic Reference Site Award.

Known as the Collinwood Fire, the disaster shocked the nation when it took place but was then largely forgotten.

The ambitious website sheds new light on the event, offering a trove of historic photos, news clippings, documents, and film footage, as well as a short animated film. Newbury says the site was designed to engage viewers in a way that is possible only online. 

According to Allen Ellis, chair of the PCA committee that reviewed the project, one of the committee members called the website “a remarkable tool” and said, “The visuals and design are outstanding, the navigation flows easily, and I can see so many disciplinary uses for this. Urban planning and construction, mass media and journalism, curriculum and education, popular culture at the turn of the century…I couldn’t possibly list them all.” 

“I’m excited about the award and honored,” said Newbury. “Most of the PCA’s members are professors, graduate students, and librarians. One of my goals is for the website to be used as a teaching tool so this audience plays an important role in making that possible.” 

Newbury plans to accept the award when it is formally presented at the PCA’s annual conference in Indianapolis, Ind., in March.

More information about the Collinwood Fire website is available here.