100 Years Later: Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire


Image: Shirtwaist factory workers preparing for a strike, from the National Women’s History Museum

On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers working in New York City – most of them young, immigrant women – lost their lives in a deadly fire. The rights of the workers were already undervalued in favour of increased production, and the overcrowded factory, unsanitary conditions and locked exits created a literal and violent death trap. The incident created an uproar concerning the dismal conditions under which these women were forced to work, and raised issues concerning labour and union rights still relevant today.

Cornell University: The Triangle Factory Fire
For those of you wishing to learn the basic facts concerning the fire, this website is an archive containing firsthand testimonials, newspaper articles, resources for further reading, and a detailed timeline of events, from the garment industry strikes of 1909 to the legal aftermath and protests.

The New York Times Tag: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
The Times has been building an excellent database of images, videos, and modern perspectives on lessons learned in the fire’s aftermath – and how far we have to go (see also Nancy Goldstein’s writing at the American Prospect).

American Experience: Triangle Fire
PBS has an hour long documentary that you can view in its entirety on their website. For those of you with access to HBO, they will be airing a documentary of their own several times within the next few weeks.

The Price of Fashion (1910)
While you are on the PBS website, be sure to check out this gallery of images taken in the years surrounding the fire, chronicling the working conditions that went into constructing the clothing seen in fashion magazines.

-Anna Fitzpatrick