March 25, 2011 marked the 100 year anniversary of the tragic fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. 146 garment workers died in the fire, most of whom were immigrant women of Italian and Jewish heritage. Despite the fact that I grew up close to NYC and studied women’s history in college, somehow I never learned about this disaster in the classroom. Instead, I first learned about it from a song by the brilliant band Rasputina called “My Little Shirtwaist Fire.”
Without question, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire should be part of any curriculum on American Studies, Gender Studies, and Labor Studies. I was thus pleased to learn that Cornell University’s ILR School created a digital collection earlier this year honoring the 100 year anniversary of the fire.
The site contains both primary and secondary documents, and includes newspaper and magazine articles, reports, survivor oral histories, and songs/plays. Most importantly, the collection also includes commemorations, including a detailed list of the people who perished in the fire. Anyone who knows of any biographical information of the fire’s victims is urged by the collection’s creators to contact them.