Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire, 100 years later

Bibliography & Links

The bibliography is not comprehensive. We have attempted to provide a thorough selection of fire-related sources but an enterprising researcher will be able to locate many more sources on sweatshops, conditions of work, investigative practices, and protective legislation.

Juvenile Literature (Fiction and Nonfiction)

Auch, May Jane. Ashes of Roses. New York: H. Holt, 2002.

Sixteen-year-old Margaret Rose Nolan, newly arrived from Ireland, finds work at New York City's Triangle Waist Factory shortly before the 1911 fire in which 146 employees died.

Bader, Bonnie. East Side Story. New York: Silver Moon Press, 1993.

A young girl and her older sister, working at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company, join a protest to try to improve the miserable working conditions.

De Angelis, Gina. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of 1911. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2001.

Part of the series: "Great Disasters: Reforms and Ramifications."

Dash, Joan. We Shall Not Be Moved: The Women's Factory Strike of 1909. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1996.

Dash describes the conditions that led to investigations and reforms in the garment industry in New York at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Diamond, Barbara Goldin. Fire. New York: Viking, Penguin Group, 1992.

A novel written for children about the Triangle Fire.

Powers, Harrison. Buried Alive: True Tales of Danger. Mahwah, NJ: Watermill Press, 1983.

Stories of danger including such incidents as the Hindenburg disaster and the Triangle Fire. Out-of-print.

Kent, Zachary. The Story of the Triangle Factory Fire. Cornerstones of Freedom Series. Chicago: Children's Press, 1989. Out-of-print.

Littlefield, Holly. Fire at the Triangle Factory. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books, 1996.

Novel for children describing the friendship of two 14-year-old girls who survive the Triangle Fire. It can be ordered from First Avenue Editions, c/o The Lerner Group, 241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401.

Naden, Corinne J. The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, March 25, 1911: The Blaze that Changed an Industry. New York: Franklin Watts, 1971. Out-of-print

Discusses the workplace conditions facing garment workers in 1911 and the reforms that took place after the Triangle Fire.

Schurfranz, Vivian. Rachel. New York: Scholastic Books, 1986. Out-of-print

Sherrow, Victoria. The Triangle Factory Fire. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press, 1995.

Describes the 1911 Triangle Factory Fire, the conditions surrounding the disaster, and its effect on industrial safety after the event.

Primary Sources (Original Documents)

Note: see Tips for Students for a definition of primary sources.

Classics of the Courtroom, Vol. I: The Summations of Max Steuer & Joseph Proskauer in Oppenheim vs. Metropolitan Street Railways; & Max Steuer's Cross Examination of Kate Alterman in People vs. Harris & Blanck. The Professional Education Group, Inc., 1987.

Max Steuer, lawyer for the defense in the Triangle Factory fire trial, won the case for Harris and Blanck, owners of the Triangle Factory. On December 27, 1911, the two men were acquitted in the jury trial. This volume contains one part of that cross examination.

Court of the General Sessions of the Peace, in and for the County of New York. The People of the State of New York against Isaac harris and Max Blanck. Indictment for Manslaughter in the first and second degrees. New York, 1911.

Includes seven indictments against the owners of the Triangle factory. The documents are at the New York Cty Municipal Archives,31 Chambers St., Suite 101, New York, NY 10007, 212-788-8585.

International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union Archives. Kheel Center for Labor- Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

The records of the ILGWU include information on the Protocol of Peace (the 1910 agreement between the union and the Cloak, Suit and Skirt Manufacturers' Association that will govern the negotiations for much of the pursuant decades), the work of the union in improving the lives of workers, oral histories that discuss workers conditions and/or touch on the fire, a partial transcript of the trial, and subsequent commemorations of the fire. The partial transcript of the trial is available online. The primary sources reproduced on this site are excerpts from oral histories, photos and editorial cartoons, Report of the Joint Relief Committee of ILGWU Local 25, and a radio play.

International Socialist Review. Chicago: C.H. Kerr and Company.

Began publication in 1900 (preceding title: Comrade). Volumes 11 and 12 (May 1911 and February 1912) have several articles on the fire.

The Ladies' Garment Worker. New York : International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union.

Began publication in 1910.

Life and Labor. Chicago: Women's Trade Union League.

Periodical of the National Women's Trade Union League of America, published between 1911 and 1921. Available on microfilm through Interlibrary Loan from several institutions.

McFarlane, Arthur. "Fire and the Skyscraper: The Problem of Protecting the Workers in New York's Tower Factories" McClure's Magazine, no. 5, vol. XXXVII (Sept., 1911).

New York City Department of Public Records, Municipal Archives, NYC Department of Records and Information Services. Famous Trials Records.. Federal Writers' Project.

This series is comprised of manuscripts, forms, notes, clippings, reports, government documents, and charts on over 100 legal cases in New York City that established precedent or were famous. One of the cases documented is the Triangle Shirtwaist Company trial.

New York (State) Department of Labor. Bureau of Statistics and Information. Labor Laws of New York State. Albany, New York [1902-1913]

New York (State) Department of Labor. Bureau of Statistics and Information. (New York State) Industrial Commission. Labor Law with Amendments, Additions, and Annotations... Albany, New York [1918-1920s]

New York (State) Department of Labor. Bureau of Statistics and Information. (New York State) Industrial Commission. The Labor Law and the Industrial Code with Amendments, Additions, and Annotations... Albany, New York [1916-1917]

New York (State) Board of Standards and Appeals. Industrial Code. Albany, 1913-

New York (State) Industrial Commission. Bureau of Statistics and Information. New York State Industrial Code, 1920. Albany, New York [1920]

New York (State) Factory Investigating Commission. Preliminary Report of the Factory Investigating Commission, 1912. Albany, New York: The Argus Company, printers, 1912.

This is the 3-volume report of the investigation that resulted from the fire. It includes transcripts of workers' testimonies on working conditions in a variety of factories across the state. The information in these volumes, gleaned from contemporary witnesses to the problems and hazards of working life in the early part of the twentieth century, is invaluable.

The Commission also produced records (corresponence, financial records, press releases, planning and research files, data cards, reports, and background notes), part of which are available on microfilm from the New York State Archives. For information on records that are available on microfilm, please see: Local Records on Microfilm in the New York State Archives

Newman, Pauline. "Letters to Michael and Hugh from P. M. Newman." May 1951. ILGWU Archives, Kheel Center for Labor Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

O'Reilly, Leonora. Papers, 1886-1927. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The O'Reilly's papers include material generated by the Women's Trade Union League, of which she was part, regarding the League's response to the fire. Included are reports about victims and survivors of the fire, questionnaires regarding working conditions and steps taken by the WTUL's Fire Committee, and correspondence with the Factory Investigating Commission. The WTUL collection, which includes O'Reilly's papers, is available on microfilm.

Perkins, Frances. Lectures. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee. Emergency Relief after the Washington Place Fire, New York, March 25, 1911: A Report. New York: The Committee, 1912.

This 95 page report is held by the Columbia University and by the University of California, Berkeley.

Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, Tamiment Institute Library, New York University. 70 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012, tel. 212-998-2640

The Wagner Archives has Triangle Fire holdings consisting of an oral history, vertical file material, and a special edition of the Automatic Sprinkler Bulletin (1911) that is devoted to the fire. . It also holds the Socialist Party (U.S.) Records, 1872-1946, which include subject files on the 1911 Triangle Shirt Waist Company fire.

Safran, Rosey. "The Washington Fire Place" The Independent, no. 3255, vol. LXX (April 20, 1911), pp. 840-1.

This account was obtained by a representative of The Independent, who interviewed Ms. Safran shortly after the fire.

Smyth, Frederick Hugh, photographer. Collection of Fire Photographs, ca. 1900-1920 New York Historical Society.

Consists of captioned album prints keyed to negative numbers. Smyth made a hobby of taking and collecting photographs of New York City fires, including the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire.

Stein, Leon, ed. Out of the Sweatshop: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy. New York: Quadrangle/New Times Book Company, 1977.

A unique documentary collection that includes first-hand accounts of garment workers from 1833 to 1975. There are sections on sweatshops, reports on the strikes, and accounts of the Triangle Fire.

Thompson, Charles Willis. Letters, 1901-1912. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Kroch Library, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

A journalist and member of the Washington Bureau of the New York Times and of the New York World, Thompson wrote a letter providing a witness account of the events surrounding the Fire.

Suggestions for more original accounts

For contemporary newspaper accounts of the 1909 Shirtwaist Workers' Strike (November 1909-February 1910) and the 1910 Cloakmakers' Strike (July-August 1910), conditions of work in the first decades of the 20th century, and the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire (March 25, 1911) check major newspapers such as The New York Times. Check your local public library for your community's newspaper of the time to see what they reported about the fire. The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature for the early years of the twentieth century will locate magazine articles on the fire and on working conditions in sweatshops. Your local librarian will be able to provide other suggestions.

Secondary Sources (articles or books written about the fire using primary sources)

Note: See Tips for Students for definitions.

Argersinger, Jo Ann E. "The Triangle Fire: A Brief History With Documents," Bedford/Strikes. Martins: Boston and New York, 2009.

Baker, Elizabeth Faulkner. Protective Labor Legislation: With Special Reference to Women in the State of New York. New York: Columbia University, 1925.

Discusses the significance of the Triangle Fire in the context of the surge of reformist activities in favor of protective labor legislation in New York State.

Behrens, Eric G. "The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of 1911: A Lesson in Legislative Manipulation" Texas Law Review 1983 62(2):361-387.

Binder, Frederick M., and David M. Reimers, eds. The Way We Lived: Essays and Documents in American Social History, 2 volumes. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1988.

This collection of documents and essays spans the seventh to twentieth century history of what is now the United States. Included in vol. 2 are several Triangle Fire, sweatshop, and labor history documents.

Cannarella, Deborah. "Touched by the Flames: Sarah Sorenson, 1888-1992," Piecework 1993 Sept./Oct.: 46-47.

Downey, Fairfax Davis. Disaster Fighters. New York: Putnam, 1938.

Discusses the Triangle Fire and the Red Cross felief work that followed the tragedy.

Deborah Cannarella. "The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire, 1911," Piecework 1993 Sept./Oct.: 42-45.

Drehle, David von. Triangle: The Fire That Changed America. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.

This is the first exhaustive history of the fire since Leon Stein's book. It places the fire in the political and social context of the times, and provides a listing of the victims.

Dreier, Peter, and Donald Cohen. "The Fire Last Time: Labor, Business, and the Forgotten Lessons of a Disaster That happened 100 Years Ago This Month" The New Republic, March 12, 2011.

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/85134/wisconsin-unions-walker-triangle-shirtwaist-fire?page=0,0 [accessed March 15, 2011].

Greenwald, Richard A. "The Burning Building at 23 Washington Place: The Triangle Fire, Workers, and Reformers in Progressive Era New York," New York History Winter 2002 83 (1):55-91.

Greenwald, Richard A. The Triangle Fire, the Protocols of Peace, and Industrial Democrac in Progressive Era New York. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2005.

Fell, Mary. The Triangle Fire. Thesis (M.F.A.), University of Massachusetts, 1981.

Huibregtse, Jon R. "The Triangle Fire." Journal of Labor Research 2002 23(4):696-697.

Jensen, Frances B. The Triangle Fire and the Limits of Progressivism. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1996. (Also on microfilm: UMI)

The Jewish Daily Forward, "Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: A Century Later", March 25, 2011.

http://www.forward.com/channels/triangle-shirtwaist-factory-fire-a-century-later/

Kerr, Thomas J. IV. "The New York Factory Investigating Commission and the Minimum Wage Movement." Labor History 1971 12(3): 373-391.

LaGumina, Salvatore J. "Reflections of an Italian-American Worker." Journal of Ethnic Studies 1975 3(2): 65-77.

Excerpts from the writings of an 87 year old Italian-American worker, which includea discussion of the Triangle fire.

Lehrer, Susan. Origins of Protective Labor Legislation for Women, 1905-1925. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987.

McClymer, John F. The Triangle Strike and Fire. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1998.

McCormack, John F., Jr. "Hell on Saturday Afternoon." Mankind 1976 5(5): 21-27.

McEvoy, Arthur F. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911: Social Change, Industrial Accidents, and the Evolution of Commonsense Causality. Chicago: American Bar Association, [1994].

Mitelman, Bonnie. "Rose Schneiderman and the Triangle Fire." American History Illustrated 1981 16(4): 38-47.

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health. Cry Wolf Project: The Triangle Waist Company Fire.

http://www.coshnetwork.org/sites/default/files/TriangleFireCWP.pdf [accessed March 15, 2011].

Sergel, Ruth. "Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition." NYU Law: Journal of Legislation and Social Policy 14.3 (2011).

View pdf version.

Stein, Leon. The Triangle Fire. New York: A Carroll & Graf/Quicksilver Book, 1962.

Stein's book is the first major work on the Triangle fire and remains an essential account of the events. An editor for the ILGWU's publication Justice, Stein did extensive original research. Cornell University Press recently re-published the book with a new introduction.

Todd, Ellen Wiley. "Remembering the Unknowns: The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire." American Art 23.3 (Fall 2009): pg. 60-80.

Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. No. 2. (Monroe, NY: Small Vinegar Press, 1995). Semiannual.

Waisala, Wendy Ellen. "To Bring Forth a Note of One's Worth: Contested Memory and the Labor Literature of the Haymarket, the Triangle Fire, and Joe Hill." Ph.D Thesis. New York University, 1997. 301 pp.

Fiction and Poetry

Bogen, Nancy. Bobe Mayse: A Tale of Washington Square. New York : Twickenham Press, 1993.

Daigon, Ruth. Payday at the Triangle (Concord, CA: Small Poetry Press, 2001)

Fell, Mary. The Triangle Fire: A Poem. Minneapolis: Shadow Press, 1983.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Uprising. New York: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2007.

Hoffman, Alice. The Museum of Extraordinary Things: A Novel. New York: Scribner, 2014.

The daughter of a Coney Island boardwalk curiosities museum's front man pursues an impassioned love affair with a Russian immigrant photographer who after fleeing his Lower East Side Orthodox community has captured poignant images of the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

Keppel, Patrick. The Freeing of Mollie Steimer [play], 1997.

Keppel, Patrick. Triangle [play], 2001.

Keppel, Patrick. Triangle [libretto], 2008.

Kovacik, Karen "Words of Fire for Our Generation: Contemporary Working-Poets on the Triangle Fire," in Women's Studies Quarterly, 26, nos. 1-2 (Spring 1998): p. 137.

Llewellyn, Chris. Fragments from the Fire: The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of March 25, 1911: Poems. New York: Viking Penguin Inc., 1987.

Llewellyn, Chris. Steam Dummy; &, Fragments from the Fire: the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire, March 25, 1911: Poems (Huron, OH: Bottom Dog Press, 1993). Midwest writers series.

"Fragments from the fire" is a revised edition of the book originally published by Viking Press in 1987. Includes bibliographical references.

Malkiel, Theresa S. The Diary of a Shirtwaist Striker. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University, ILR Press, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1990.

This novel, originally copyrighted in 1910, is a fictional narrative that draws upon the author's involvement in the 1910 strike, a 13 week-long labor conflict mostly involving young immigrant women in the shirtwaist industry. The novel depicts working conditions and the way of life of workers who were contemporaries of the Triangle Fire victims. Although some have dismissed it as propaganda, this novel shows Malkiel's view of work and of the promise of socialism. The ILR Press version also includes an introductory essay about the strike and its meaning in the lives of the young women who were involved in it.

Nixon, Dorothy. Threshold Girl. 2011. http://www.tighsolas.ca/page10.pdf.pdf

Pielher, Christopher in collaboration with Scott Alan Evans. The Triangle Factory Fire Project. 2005.

A play that uses eyewitness accounts, court transcripts, and other archival material, to create a dramatic moment-by-moment account of this historic fire and the social upheaval that followed. Available for purchase at: http://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=3500

Pinsky, Robert. "Shirt," The Want Bone. New York: Ecco Press,1990.

Regan, Sylvia. "Morning Star: A Play in Three Acts," Awake and Singing. New York: Mentor, 1995.

Tax, Meredith. Rivington Street. New York: Morrow, 1982.

Weber, Katharine. Triangle: A Novel. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2006.

Audiovisual Materials

Baker, Kevin. Dreamland [a novel] New York : Harper Collins Publishers, 1999).

4 sound cassettes (6 hrs.). Abridged. Performed by John Rubinstein.

Glazer, Joe. The Jewish Immigrant Experience In America: Songs And Stories Silver Spring, MD : Collector Records, c1989.

1 sound cassette : analog, stereo. Program notes on container insert. Joe Glazer, vocals, guitar. Recorded 1981 in Washington D.C. Sung in English or Yiddish. Includes: "Poem of the Triangle Fire," by Rosenfeld.

Grant, Bev. We Were There: Songs of Working Women's History (Brooklyn, N.Y.: Human Condition Records, 1997).

1 sound cassette: analog, stereo. Bev Grant, vocals and guitar; with accompanying musicians and vocalists. Includes the song: "Ballad of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire" by Ruth Rubin.

Mlotek, Zalmen. The Golden Land [a joyous new musical] (New York: Golden Land Records) distributed by Continuity Products, 1986.

1 sound disc: analog, 33 1/3 rpm, stereo. Includes "Ballad of the Triangle Fire" and "Elegy for the Triangle Fire Victims." Text in transliterated Yiddish, with English paraphrases, (8 p.) inserted. Soloists and chorus, with The Golden Land Klezmer Orchestra, Zalmen Mlotek, conductor; sung in English and Yiddish.

NYC OASIS.

Map showing the addresses of several of the victims in the East Village, along with a map from 1874, the current street grid and subway routes, community gardens, schools, and more. http://bit.ly/iaFCSR

O'Connor, John. We Ain't Gonna Give It Back: Songs For The Labor Movement (Greenfield, MA: J. O'Connor, 1995?).

1 sound disc: digital, stereo. Compact disc. John O'Connor (guitar, banjo, vocals); with accompanying musicians. Includes "The Triangle Fire" among other labor songs.

Schorr. Elegy on the Triangle fire Victims. Victor: 65416-B, 19??.

On one side of one disc. Simon Paskel with orchestra.

The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal. U.S.A. Home Video: 1985.

Film produced in 1978 by Alan Landsburg Productions. 98 min. It is no longer available and the company is not in business. Information on the video can be found at http://fly.hiwaay.net/~djberry/movies/firescan.htm

Instructional Materials for Teachers of Middle and High School Students

AFL-CIO Department of Education. How Schools are Teaching About Labor: A Collection of Guidelines and Lesson Plans. n.d.

Hensel, Donald W. Confrontation: Role Playing Simulations in American History. Second ed. Needham Heights, MA: Ginn Press, 1990.

How to teach and study American history using role-play for specific incidents such as the Triangle Fire, Pullman Strike, Nat Turner Revolt, and Hiroshima.

Organization of American Historians. Magazine of History. 112 North Bryan Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47408-4199, tel. 812-855-0696, e-mail: oah@indiana.edu.

Using topics in American history, OAH presents a quarterly journal for junior high and high school teachers of history. A recent issue (Volume 11, no 2, Winter 1997) discussed labor history. http://www.oah.org/members/mbrinfo.html#moh

Hong, Ellen. Triangle Fire Mock Trial [Unpublished]. 2004. Available for free. Please contact honge@campbellhall.org

This is a mock trial activity designed for grades 7-12. The trial contains 8 witness statements based on testimonies recorded in the trial transcript. Also included are: the mock trial fact situation, directions, legal stipulations, photos of a burnt lock (which you can order online), and a map of the 9th floor.

Larry Stevens, United States History Mini-Plays (Stevens & Shea Publishers; Relevant Instructional Materials, 1977-1978).

Includes a mini-play on the Triangle fire and a teacher's guide. Classroom materials for grades 9-12. It includes drama for 20 characters, and crossword puzzles to involve the students in learning working conditions in the garment industry.

Stack of reference books

RELATED RESOURCES