Factory Fire 141-148 Deaths (1911 – Triangle Shirtwaist Company)

Almost feel guilty calling it the “kick off” for change but it doesn’t seem too far off from the truth. It is also not my intention to make all posts seem rather gloomy and depressing –  be advised, it does get brighter! Every event occurred only allowed us to progress as far along as we have after all.

The following is a documentary aired by PBS by Science Ledger (53 minutes long):

Although it’s long, it tells such a compelling story of what life was like back then and where common sense didn’t kick in. The mindset of these factory owners can be summarized from a quote pulled from the documentary:

“These industrial buccaneers are lionized. There is this commitment in American culture to an extreme kind of individualism that individuals, especially the owners of private property, should not be interfered with. That to interfere with them is to place inhibiting obstacles in their path that will restrain prosperity and industrial growth.” (18:00) – Steve Fraser, Historian

The parts, which hit the hardest when reading these stories, is trying to be in the mindset of being given a self-choice; to either be burned alive or to leap out the window. Both, which do not provide any positive outcome besides being identifiable or not.

Quick Synopsis: A fire, from an unknown source, started in a factory located in Manhattan, New York. Due to panic and lack of technology, not every floor was notified to leave. By the time some floors realized, most exits were already blocked off by fire and smoke. The only other way out, besides leaping out of windows, were the fire exits but they were locked (the big “NO”). The owners, who fleed safely, were charged with first and second degree manslaughter. After, in court, deciding whether or not the owners knew the fire exit was locked or not, the jury acquitted them due to lack of proof.

To Ponder on: Factory workers safety should not and does not apply only to developing countries. It does not seem apparent but North America has their fair share of blame, deaths and concerns regardless of governing laws.

For more information: The 1911 Triangle Factory Fire
Photo Source: ILR – Cornell University


2 thoughts on “Factory Fire 141-148 Deaths (1911 – Triangle Shirtwaist Company)

  1. I first learned about the fire through a novel (Beyond the Pale), and it immediately struck a chord with me (I guess because it was mostly teenage girls, which I was when I read the book). I am definitely going to watch that video when I have some time!


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