Triangle Factory Fire
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire was a horrible tragedy that ultimately changed American Labor Unions and labor laws.
The fire came only five years after Upton Sinclair published his book The Jungle, which detailed the plight of workers at a meat packer's plant. Soon, the nation focused on food safety regulations, but not on working conditions. It took the tragic death of 146 girls, whose average age was 19, for politicians and the people to see the need to regulate safety in the workplace.
To help you teach your students about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and help them learn more about the history of labor in the United States, we have gathered the following resources:
- The Triangle Factory Fire
This rich source of information provides original text documents, audio and written interviews with survivors and witnesses, and photographs and illustrations of the fire. From the Kheel Center of Cornell University.
- American Experience: Triangle Fire
This WGBH site offers a photo gallery, primary news sources, related books and websites, and an interactive map.
- Watch PBS film Triangle Fire online (51min). The DVD is also available for purchase.
- Read "Discovering My Grandmother's Triangle Fire Story."
- The Mind-Set That Survived the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
From Washington Post opinion writer Harold Meyerson. (March 22, 2011)
- From the Triangle Tragedy, Unprecedented Reform
From the WNYC Radio article by Abbie Fentress Swanson about fire that killed 146 young women and girls - most of them working class Eastern European immigrants - an event that paved the way for unions to organize workers in record numbers. (March 23, 2011)
- Remembering the Triangle Fire
From Queens College history professor Joshua Freeman in The Nation online. (March 16, 2011)
- The Triangle Fire: Still Burning Before Our Nation
From Tula Connell, AFL-CIO Now blog. (March 24, 2011)
- Remembering the Triangle Fire 100 Years Later
From CNN senior correspondent Allan Chernoff. (March 25, 2011)
- NPR: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Listen to this 6-minute audio story that includes clips from a 2001 interview with Rose Freedman, the last living survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.
White House Events
- Presidential Proclamation - 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
President Barack Obama proclaimed March 25, 2011, as the 100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, calling upon all Americans "to participate in ceremonies and activities in memory of those who have been killed due to unsafe working conditions." (March 24, 2011)
- White House Live: Women Organize! Honoring the Legacy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Watch this event streamed live online 9:00-10:30 a.m. EDT on Monday, March 28, 2011. The event honors Women’s History Month with a forum of women workers and organizers sharing their stories of courageous action. It will highlight the story of women seeking to improve their workplaces and their lives by coming together to form a union.