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)
- The Triangle Fire By Leon Stein (1962)
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, March 25, 1911; the Blaze That Changed an Industry By Corinne J. Naden (1971)
- Triangle: The Fire That Changed America By David Von Drehle (2003)
- The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democracy in Progressive Era New York By Richard A. Greenwald (2005)
- The New York City Triangle Factory Fire By Leigh Benin, Rob Linné, Adrienne Sosin and Joel Sosinky, with Workers United (ILGWU) and HBO Documentary Films (2011)
- Bobe Mayse: A Tale of Washington Square By Nancy Bogen (1993)
- Dream Land By Kevin Baker (1999)
- Triangle Katharine Weber (2006)
Young Adult Nonfiction
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of 1911 By Gina De Angelis (2001)
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and Sweatshop Reform in American History By Suzanne Lieurance (2003)
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire By Brenda Lange (2008)
- Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy By Albert Marrin (2011)
- The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire By Zachary Kent (1989)
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire By Elaine Landau (2005)
Children's and YA Fiction
- Ashes of Roses By Mary Jane Auch (2002)
- Dear Emma By Johanna Hurwitz (2002)
- Uprising By Margaret Peterson Haddix (2007)
- Threads and Flames By Esther Friesner (2010)
- Fragments from the Fire: The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of March 25, 1911: Poems By Chris Llewellyn (1987)
- Shirt By Robert Pinsky (2002)
- Library of Congress: Chronicling America
- Full archive access at nytimes.com
- ProQuest Historical Database
- Footnote - National newspapers and city directory entries
- America: History and Life Full Text - search results
- Left Index - search results
- Deathproof versus Fireproof: We Know How to Protect Buildings; We Must Learn How to Protect People. Hampton's Magazine (1911) American Periodicals from the Center for Research Libraries, ProQuest contains other labor and trade periodicals.
- The Triangle Fire Of 1911, And The Lessons For Wisconsin And The Nation Today The New Republic
- The location of the Asch Building at Greene Street and Washington Place
- The Lower East Side Tenement Museum
- In 1909, strikes at the Triangle Factory led to intimidation by management and night court trials at the former Jefferson Market courthouse (now one of our libraries)
- WGBH American Experience: Triangle Fire (watch online at PBS.org)
- Recent and Historical Articles, Photos and Multimedia from the New York Times
- The Triangle Fire: A Working Legacy - The Jewish Daily Forward
- Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire - Cornell University ILR School
- Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition
- Photos from AP Multimedia Archive
Other Related Materials
Labor union parade, NY., May 1, 1911 (LOC) via Flickr
- 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.