On this date in 1911, one of the worst factory disasters in U.S. history occurred.

A rag pile ignited at the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. and killed 146 people, mostly young, immigrant women.

The owners had not installed fire escapes and barred doors to control theft and keep out union organizers.

Many of the women, trapped inside the burning factory, leapt from the 10 story building to their deaths. (Info from lorraine: a young man, knowing how frightened they were, held their hands at the edge before they jumped. Once they were gone, he jumped.)
Newspaper stories and photographs seared the horror of the blaze into the minds of Americans.

Go look at the photos in the link above. They tell more than I can with words. Warning: There are a couple that are graphic.

The survivors became outspoken leaders for reform.

New York passed landmark legislation to protect workers. The owners were all convicted on manslaughter charges.

Our work places are safer today because of the efforts made by reforms in the wake of this fire.

So remember the 146 who died on this date. Remember them and what happened at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Remember because if a similar tragedy happened today, the owners probably wouldn’t face criminal charges. They’d probably be put in charge of workplace safety at the Department of Labor.

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