To commemorate Sepia Saturday 100, a look back:
This year, thanks to the efforts of historians, artists, writers and unionists, an event was pulled from the dustbin of American history, and given a place of honor in public memory.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of March 1911 took the lives of 146 people, mostly Italian and Jewish women who were recent immigrants, working for low wages under shoddy conditions. The disaster galvanized the labor movement in the U.S., gave urgency to the demand for women's suffrage, and led to reforms in building and fire safety. I wrote about the anniversary earlier this year for my newspaper; you can read the article here.
Cornell University has an extraordinary archive of photos and documents about the fire. The 1911 picture of Annie Nicholas is from their web site; she died in the fire at the age of 18. There are many gruesome pictures of the fire and its aftermath; the disaster coincided with the ascendance of newspaper photography and was extremely well recorded. I chose a picture of an individual for this post, to remember the humanity behind the statistics.
The New York Times has their own excellent archive, including links to their coverage of the fire in 1911, and articles discussing the sweatshop labor we still rely on.
"Shirtwaist," a digital collage I created for March 25, 2011, incorporating all the names of those who died in the Triangle fire.
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