A librarian has made it her mission to correct the death toll.

When the 1906 San Francisco earthquake hit, the official death toll was reported to be less than 500. For 50 years, the librarian Gladys Hansen, who is now 88 years old, made it her goal to correct the record and properly count the dead—so much so that she says people think of her as the “death lady.” This short film by Catharine Axley, Counting the Dead, tells Hansen’s story, and how she’s still finding names to add to her list of thousands over a century after the quake happened.

This post originally appeared on The Atlantic.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    Changing Tides Engulf the South Street Seaport

    Mayor Ed Koch wanted a family-friendly attraction for Lower Manhattan. But this 1983 icon of yuppie-era NYC was swept off course by changing tastes.

  2. animated illustration: cars, bikes, scooters and drones in motion.
    Transportation

    This City Was Sick of Tech Disruptors. So It Decided to Become One.

    To rein in traffic-snarling new mobility modes, L.A. needed digital savvy. Then came a privacy uproar, a murky cast of consultants, and a legal crusade by Uber.

  3. photo: Uber and Lyft vehicles.
    Transportation

    Ride-Hailing Isn’t Really Green

    The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that the environmental impact of Uber and Lyft rides is 69% worse than the transportation modes they replace.

  4. photo: Cranes on the skyline in Oakland, California
    Life

    How to Make a Housing Crisis

    The new book Golden Gates details how California set itself up for its current affordability crunch—and how it can now help build a nationwide housing movement.

  5. a photo of a New Orleans pothole
    Life

    Here’s a Pothole Stunt for the Ages in New Orleans

    Tired of waiting for the city to fix their street, residents of the Irish Channel neighborhood furnished their pothole and listed it as an Airbnb rental. It worked.

×