NWMCC Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Paper

NWMCC Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Paper


The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that took the lives of 146 workers in March 1911 made the terrible working conditions in the New York City sweatshops obvious to the city’s residents. Trials of the owners (who were acquitted of wrongdoing) kept the issue alive, leading the public to call for reforms and protections. At the site below, listen to the voices of survivors and try to imagine what it would have been like to live and work there and to be so completely helpless.

Women’s garments of that era were often made in two pieces: a long skirt, usually of durable material, and a separate top –the shirtwaist—which buttoned to the throat. The shirtwaists, more apt to get dirty than the skirts, could be changed more frequently for cleaning, and they dried much more easily than the skirts, which were worn longer between washings.

View an online exhibit of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: (Links to an external site.). Then answer the following question:

  1. Are we Americans today guilty of behaving the same way Americans did in the early 1900s – ignoring working conditions because we want a wide selection of goods at decent prices? Would a series of exposés do any good? Why or why not? Your answer should be between 5 and 7 sentences. Pay close attention to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.