Sunday, April 12, 2009


The intrigue started from a lecture in women's history: The Triangle Waist Company fire in NYC in 1911. I can only describe this fascination by giving the analogy of driving by a bad accident on the interstate: you simply have to look. But this tragedy seems so appalling to me. 146 you people died, most of them young women and girls, who worked in a sweatshop making the shirtwaists that were so popular in the day. Basically, they were locked into the 8th and 9th floor of a huge building in NYC when a fire broke out. There are accounts of the sidewalk actually breaking from the weight of the bodies as women decided to jump to their death instead of being consumed by the flames. This was before the time of fire regulations, and the fire hoses did not reach to the floors of the tall building. It sparked reform in our country: for wages, for safety, for health and safety regulations for workers.

What is so strange to me is that this occured right after a massive strike of the young women in the garment industry, fed up with the conditions of the sweatshops in which they were employed. And the Triangle Company was the only one to not reach a compromise with the strikers. Arson was not suspected. It is speculated that a match or spark ignited oil and cloth trimmings that littered the floor in the cramped working space. To me, it all seems like such a huge coincidence.

This is odd for me. It is the first time a topic in a class has intrigued me enough that I found myself at the local library and a Barnes and Noble trying to comb for more information about it.

I didn't find anything at my local lbrary, but I did find this at B & N:

I cannot wait to start on it. My nonacademic academic reading. I wish I had more time....

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