Leon Stein was born in Baltimore and moved to New York City as a child. He graduated from the City College of New York and was a writer and editor for Justice, the publication of the International Ladie's Garment Workers' Union, during the 1930's, 40's and 50's.
In preparation for the 50th anniversary, Stein placed notices in local papers soliciting contributions of reminiscences about the fire. Initially he planned to write an extended article for Justice but due to the large number of reponses he received, he decided to write a full length book instead. 19 of the interviews he conducted are available here.