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Chicago Tribune’s Kori Rumore and Marianne Mather Reveal The Real Women of Murderess Row

May 19, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


  • HE HAD IT COMING | Kori Rumor and Marianne Mather | BUY BOOK
  • All registrants receive 10% off book purchase with code ‘EVENT’

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Beulah Annan. Belva Gaertner. Kitty Malm. Sabella Nitti. These are the real women of Chicago.

Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories

You probably know Roxie and Velma, the good-time gals of the 1926 satirical play Chicago and its wildly successful musical and movie adaptations. You might not know that Roxie, Velma, and the rest of the colorful characters of the play were inspired by real prisoners held in “Murderess Row” in 1920s Chicago—or that the reporter who covered their trials for the Chicago Tribune went on to write the play Chicago.

Now, more than 90 years later, the Chicago Tribune has uncovered photographs and newspaper clippings telling the story of the four women who inspired the timeless characters of Chicago. But these photos tell a different story—and itʼs not all about glamour, fashion, and celebrity. They show a young mother in jail hugging her two-year-old daughter. They show an immigrant woman who doesnʼt speak the language of her judge, jury, and attorney. And they show women who used their images to sway public opinion—and their juries.

He Had It Coming collects recently discovered photos, original newspaper clippings, and stories from Tribune reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins as well as new analysis written by Tribune film critic Michael Phillips, theater critic Chris Jones, and columnists Heidi Stevens and Rick Kogan to build a fascinating history of women in crime in Jazz Age Chicago, a history that takes on new meaning in today’s #MeToo moment.


Kori Rumore tells stories using data and the Chicago Tribune’s archives. The Missouri School of Journalism graduate grew up in Des Plaines near the original McDonald’s restaurant. Her first book, “He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories,” co-authored with Marianne Mather, was released in February 2020.

Marianne Mather edits every facet of photography, produces documentary videos, designs special online presentations, creates and edits books and curates the historic photo archive at the Chicago Tribune. She loves all things visual and feels most passionate about merging classic photojournalism with innovation and technology in the modern era of news.

During the previous presidential election, Mather found the infamous Bernie Sanders arrest photo after realizing the Tribune’s photo archives could be the voice of record during a social media dispute about Sanders involvement in civil rights issues. She also uncovered the photos of the SS Eastland in time for the 100 year anniversary of the deadliest inland maritime disaster in US history.

Mather recently co-author the book “He Had It Coming: Four Murderous Women and the Reporter Who Immortalized Their Stories.” She curates several social media profiles, including VintageTribune on Instagram with over 90K followers, and feels fortunate to have the Tribune’s vast archives at her fingertips.


May 19, 2021
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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