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“Isaac’s Storm”: The 1900 Galveston Hurricane

Author Erik Larson stormed onto the bestsellers list in 1999 with “Isaac’s Storm,” which chronicled the 1900 Galveston Hurricane as well as the work of meteorologist Isaac Cline. The book is both a riveting read and an interesting look at the nascent National Weather Service (then known as the United States Weather Bureau), established during the Grant administration in 1890. From a Washington Post review:

[Larson’s] gripping new book, “Isaac’s Storm,” which tells the story of the Galveston hurricane in excruciating, Grand Guignol detail, threatens to become the “Jaws” of hurricane yarns. Except that it’s all true.

The book details Cline’s work leading up to the September 8, 1900 hurricane and his experiences in dealing with the aftermath. His wife was among the 6,000 to 12,000 killed by flooding and the massive amount of debris pushed around by the storm. Cline’s own house, which had been used as refuge for a number of residents, was smashed by a railroad trestle that had been knocked loose. After seeing the unexpected destruction and loss of life caused by the storm, Cline dedicated himself to studying tropical cyclones and flooding patterns and contributed significantly to the science of meteorology.

Galveston Hurricane (1900) Research Topic

Galveston Hurricane (1900) Research Topic via ProQuest eLibrary

“Isaac’s Storm” would be a good book for cross-curricular instruction in Literature, Science, general Social Studies and Texas state history, and eLibrary can be helpful in giving students background in areas related to the book. Among the Research Topics that can be utilized are:

Galveston Hurricane (1900)

Erik Larson

Hurricanes

Meteorology

To find Research Topics pages covering other individual storms, start typing “hurricane” in the search box and you will get at least a partial drop-down list, or you can keep typing if you have a specific storm you want to find. Often, even if you don’t get a drop-down hit, a search will return a relevant RT. For example, a search of “katrina” may return results and an RT on Hurricane Katrina. So, mix up your searches.

In addition to the great stuff that is on the Research Topics, there is plenty more in eLibrary. Try searches like “galveston hurricane,” “galveston 1900,” “hurricane 1900” or “erik larson” to get documents, photos and more. In particular, we have a good number of web links; use the source-type checkboxes to limit to websites. Here are a few of note:

The Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 (NOAA)

The 1900 Galveston Hurricane & the Activities of U.S. Lighthouse Service Personnel (Coast Guard)

Galveston 1900: Storm of the Century: Teacher Resources (University of North Texas)

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Jim Zelli

Jim Zelli has been with ProQuest since 1989 and with eLibrary since 2004.
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