New exhibit: The Chicago Conspiracy Trial

The Chicago Conspiracy Trial: One Juror’s Ordeal

In 1968 the Democratic National Convention was held in Chicago. Protests, confrontation, arrests and ensuing trial, tested the legal and political processes. The Chicago Conspiracy Trial of 1969-1970 was a challenge to the American justice system. This exhibit examines one juror’s experiences, reflected through her journals, and the lasting impact of the trial on her and her family.


Fifty years ago this August, the 1968 Democratic Convention was held in Chicago. The trial started a year later in September 1969. The trial remains as politically and historically significant today as it was at the time. 1968 was a turbulent year - Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated, and there were worldwide protests. People came from all over the country to Chicago to protest the Vietnam War and the convention itself. “The Festival of Life” erupted in unforgettable violence and chaos. Eight men were indicted on conspiracy and crossing state lines to incite a riot. Jean Fritz, who grew up in Edgewater, was a juror on the trial. The jury was sequestered for four and a half months, and she kept a daily journal. The trial became theater of the absurd. Although Jean wanted acquittal on both counts, five of the defendants were convicted of crossing states lines to incite a riot. In the appellate court hearings, Jean was called to testify, and her testimony was in large part responsible for the verdict being overturned. This was a life changing experience for her, morally and politically. Her insights, interviews, articles and videos are among the archiving material used in the exhibit. Museum hours are Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 and upon request. Admission is free.

Mary Schmich wrote a feature article in the Chicago Tribune about Jean Fritz and the trial.

Some material referenced in the exhibit is available online: