The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which took place 100 years ago today, was a tragic incident in New York City's history but also a turning point in the early labor movement.
One hundred and forty-six workers died, mostly young women from immigrant families. The fire was deadly because of the height of the building, the amount of fabric and flammable material inside, the lack of proper fire escapes, and exits that were locked to prevent workers from taking breaks. Many fell or jumped to their deaths. The tragedy brought greater awareness to sweatshop conditions, which led to widespread changes in labor practices and the movement towards legal protection of workers' rights.
Below are materials selected by NYPL librarians held in our collections and elsewhere that document and memorialize this event, so that we may continue to learn from it 100 years later.
(For database access, authenticate with your library card through nypl.org first, and then click on the links to search)
Young Adult Nonfiction
Children's and YA Fiction
Other Related Materials
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, March 25, 1911: A Memorial Compilation and Testament to the 146 Victims, Their Families and Those Heroic Immigrants Whose Labor and Sacrifice Made America Great A compilation (possibly made by Senator Serphin R. Maltese), of photocopied articles about the fire, both contemporary with the event and subsequent reflections on it.
- Emergency Relief After the Washington Place Fire, New York, March 25, 1911: Report. Charity Organization Society of the City of New York (1912) [Pamphlet volume]
- Report of the Joint Relief Committee, Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union, Local 25, on the Triangle Fire Disaster [microfiche]
- Woman's Work in Municipalities By Mary Ritter Beard (1915). Available in Everyday Life and Women in America, c1800-1920, Internet Archive and Google Books
- The Manuscripts and Archives Division holds the Rose Pesotta Papers, 1922-1965. Rose Pesotta (1896-1965) emigrated from the Ukraine to New York at the age of seventeen, in 1913. She went to work as a shirtwaist maker and joined Local 25 of the International Ladies Garment Union (ILGW). Pesotta’s early work experience would be in the sweatshops of lower-Manhattan while she attended school at night. Pesotta would rise to prominence as an official of the ILGW and a political activist.
- Lewis Wickes Hine: Documentary Photographs, 1905-1938. More than 500 silver gelatin photographic prints depicting American social conditions and labor, including immigrants at Ellis Island and construction of the Empire State Building, Hine's principal subjects.
- Photographs of Garment Manufacturing in "The Pageant of America" Collection.
- Search the catalog for International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.
- Search the catalog for Women Clothing Workers -- United States -- History.
Many thanks to Carmen Nigro, Valerie Wingfield, Alexandra Gomez, Trevor Jones, Brooke Watkins and Kerri Wallace for their contributions to this post!