the triangle shirtwaist factory fire

So we’re just redoing the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 2017. Capitalism never leaves the 19th century *libertarian voice* and I think that’s efficient

Bread and Roses

An internet rabbithole, as they go.

Not long ago I watched the film Pride (set largely in 1984 Wales), and there was a scene where the community hall broke into the song Bread and Roses.  I was on a plane, otherwise I’d probably have googled it.

I was looking at some labor history links today after looking at some titles on Scribd and came across this by the Labor Education Service from the University of Minnesota: there again, Bread and Roses (1912, far from Wales).

So now, reading the lyrics and looking up the strike and the song both, this is how we get the name Rose Schneiderman - who coined the phrase that was turned into a slogan, poem and song.

All of this to say that I was moved by a speech from Rose herself, in the wake of the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  Thank you wikipedia for that.  And now perhaps I ought to find more to read of hers, but that is the beauty of internet rabbitholes, there is always more to read:

“I would be a traitor to these poor burned bodies if I came here to talk good fellowship. We have tried you good people of the public and we have found you wanting. The old Inquisition had its rack and its thumbscrews and its instruments of torture with iron teeth. We know what these things are today; the iron teeth are our necessities, the thumbscrews are the high-powered and swift machinery close to which we must work, and the rack is here in the firetrap structures that will destroy us the minute they catch on fire.

This is not the first time girls have been burned alive in the city. Every week I must learn of the untimely death of one of my sister workers. Every year thousands of us are maimed. The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred. There are so many of us for one job it matters little if 146 of us are burned to death.

We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now, and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers, brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbearable the strong hand of the law is allowed to press down heavily upon us.

Public officials have only words of warning to us – warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back, when we rise, into the conditions that make life unbearable.

I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. The only way they can save themselves is by a strong working-class movement.”

—Rose Schneiderman

anonymous asked:

hi jacqui, sorry if you've been asked this before but do the emojis on your twitter have a particular meaning? thanks, have a good one

hey there! you must mean 🍞🌹, right? they do have meaning. “bread and roses” is a political slogan aligned with the labour/workers movement and/or trade unionism and/or socialism (lived socialism, not abstract ivory tower socialism, which i have a much more ambivalent relationship with). it originated in a speech by rose schneiderman, given not long after the triangle shirtwaist factory fire, about the worker’s right to a full and human life, not just subsistence:

“What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist — the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too. Help, you women of privilege, give her the ballot to fight with.”

even more famous, and where i first encountered the phrase, is the labour song of the same name, which was originally a poem inspired by schneiderman’s speech:

Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses

the song has been covered numerous times, including by joan baez, utah phillips, and ani difranco, but by far my favourite version is the one included in the film pride:

The lyrics are taken from a poem by Morris Rosenfeld commemorating the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. It’s a few months yet until the anniversary, but the song came on while I was working (it also struck me for it’s similarity to Simon & Garfunkel’s El Condor Pasa (If I Could)).

These are the lyrics in English and Yiddish:

Mayn Rue Platz

Nit zukh mikh, vu die mirten grinen,
Gefinst mikh dortn nit, mayn shats.
Vu lebns velkn bay mashinen,
Dortn iz mayn rue plats.

Nit zukh mikh, vu die feygl zingn,
Gefinst mikh dortn nit, mayn shats.
A shklaf bin ikh, vu keytn klingn,
Dortn iz mayn rue plats.

Nit zukh mikh, vu fontanen shpritsn,
Gefinst mikh dortn nit, may shats.
Vu trern rinen, tseyner kritsn,
Dortn iz mayn rue plats.

Un libst du mikh mit varer libe,
To kum tsu mir, mayn guter shats.
Un hayter oyf mayn harts, dos tribe,
Un makh mir zis mayn rue plats.

Don’t look for me where myrtles are green.
You will not find me there, my beloved.
Where lives wither at the machines,
There is my resting place.

Don’t look for me where birds sing.
You will not find me there, my beloved.
I am a slave where chains ring,
There is my resting place.

Don’t look for me where fountains spray.
You will not find me there, my beloved.
Where tears flow and teeth gnash,
There is my resting place.

And if you love me with true love,
So come to me, my good beloved,
And cheer my gloomy heart
And make sweet my resting place.


Jewish-American Heritage Month

Today is the beginning of May, the Jewish American Heritage Month, and it’s also May Day, which in some countries is a celebration of workers and labor activism. In honor of these two days, I’m going to introduce you to some of my favorite Jewish American women activists.

(L-R: Clara Lemlich, Rose Schneiderman, and Pauline Newman; bottom: The Uprising of 20,000, a strike organized by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which all three women were involved in)

Clara Lemlich (1886-1982) Lemlich was born in the Ukraine. As a child, she secretly ran errands and wrote letters for her neighbors in order to earn money for Russian books, against her parents’ wishes. She became a Socialist while in the Ukraine, and moved to the United States with her family following a 1903 pogram in Kishinev. In New York, she worked in the garment industry and was elected to the ILGWU executive board at the age of 22.

Lemlich was known for her bravery. Famously, in 1909 gangsters attacked picketers and broke three of her ribs. She remained on the picket line. Later that same year, when (male) leaders of the socialist movement spent most of a meeting speaking about general actions that should be taken, Lemlich was lifted onto the stage by her fellow female workers, where she pledged herself to the movement and rallied the crowd into immediately approving a motion to strike. This strike became the Uprising of the 20,000.

Because of her union activities, Lemlich was blacklisted from the garment industry. She worked for suffrage, although she frequently clashed with upper-class suffragettes and preferred to work with other working-class women. She married in 1913 and was a mother of three, and frequently organized housewives to her various causes. She worked for the Communist Party, the United Council of Working Class Women, the Emma Lazarus Federation of Jewish Women’s Clubs, the Unemployed Councils, and allied with Sojourners for Truth. Her final social campaign was waged from the Jewish Home for the Aged, in LA, where she persuaded the management of the Home to join the United Farm Workers’ boycott and assisted farmers in their organizing. She was then in her mid-eighties, and she died at the age of 96.

Rose Schneiderman (1882-1972) Schneiderman was born in Russian Poland, just north of the city of Chelm. Her parents sent her to cheder, against tradition, when she was a child. When she was eight years old her family immigrated to the United States, and she was forced to drop out of school at age thirteen in order to support her family. She was a capmaker, and she quickly became involved in the union movement.

Standing at 4 feet, 9 inches tall, with flaming red hair, Schneiderman was famous for her passionate speeches, which she delivered across the country, daily, on street corners and in lecture halls, in English as well as Yiddish. Two of her most famous speeches were her August 2, 1911 address in which, following the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, she lambasted middle and upper class feminists for failing to prioritize labor activism, and a 1912 speech in which she declared that “What the woman who labors wants is the right to live, not simply exist–the right to life as the rich woman has the right to life, and the sun and music and art. You have nothing that the humblest worker has not a right to have also. The worker must have bread, but she must have roses, too.” This last line became a popular slogan and protest song.

Schneiderman was president of the Women’s Trade Union League, worked with the ILGUW, helped found the American Civil Liberties Union, and in 1920 launched an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate on the Labor Party ticket. She became close with the Roosevelts and helped to shape New Deal labor legislation, and in the 30s and 40s she also worked tirelessly in an attempt to bring Jewish refugees from Europe to the United States. Albert Einsteen wrote in praise of her, saying “It must be a source of deep gratification to you to be making so important a contribution to rescuing our persecuted fellow Jews from their calamitous peril…We have no other means of self-defense than our solidarity.”

Schneiderman was in a long-term relationship with fellow WTUL activist Maud Swartz for over twenty years, until Swartz’s death in 1937. Schneiderman herself continued to live in New York City her entire life, until her own death in 1972 at the age of 90.

Pauline Newman (1887-1986) Newman was born in Lithuania. As a child she persuaded her father, a teacher at a cheder, to sit in on her classes, which was the only way she could learn to read and write. She learned Hebrew and Yiddish. At the age of nine, following her father’s death, the family moved to New York and Newman began working in the factory. She worked at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, where she became a socialist at the age of fifteen. She was twenty when she lead her first rent strike in 1908, and a year later she organized 40,000 in a labor strike, which at the time was the largest strike ever organized by American women.

Newman worked with the ILGWU, the WTUL, and the Factory Investigation Commission, and although she never lost her skill for street-level organizing, she was also a skilled lobbyist. She also became the director of the ILGWU’s Union Health Center, the first of its kind, and served in that position for sixty years. Like Schneiderman, she worked for women’s suffrage and with the Roosevelts concerning labor legislation.

Newman was famous for wearing her hair short and often wearing men’s clothes, unlike her more reserved colleagues. She met Frieda Miller, an instructor at Bryn Mawr, in 1918, and wrote a letter to Schneiderman expressing her admiration but ambivalence about whether she should pursue the relationships; Schneiderman, who confessed that she herself was often uncertain about her own romantic life, urged Newman to “grasp at the possibility of joy.” Newman and Miller lived together publicly from 1923 to Miller’s death in 1974. Newman herself passed away in 1986 at the age of 98.

Horror History II: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire


March 25, 1911, 4:40 PM:

Roughly three hundred girls were preparing for the end of their day at the Triangle Waist Company. Eighteen minutes later, fifty-eight girls were splattered on the sidewalk, and eighty-seven were cooking inside. 

The Company occupied the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors of the Asch Building in Greenwich Village in Lower Manhattan. The building had two sides that looked out over an intersection. The factory produced women’s blouses (known as shirtwaists). The workers were immigrant girls averaging 19 years of age. The owners and operators were two men: Max Blanck and Isaac Harris.

Blanck and Harris ran the factory under sweatshop conditions. The rooms were cramped with workers and ill-lit. The workers receive an average 3 dollars an hour by today’s standards, and were required to work twelve hour days, seven days a week. Blanck and Harris had a history of fires in their factories. They often started fires themselves, to collect insurance money. In the Shirtwaist Factory they refused to install sprinkler systems and alarms, in case they needed to burn it down again.

Not only that, but the factory had only defective fire hoses and a total of twenty-six buckets of water. While there were many exits: two elevators, two stairways, and two fire escapes, they managed to reduce the number to nearly zero means of escape to save a few dollars.

The men kept the main stairway behind a door locked from the outside, in order to keep the girls from stealing scraps of fabric or taking unnecessary breaks. At the sound of “fire!” the guard with the key immediately fled, leaving those inside to die. 

The doors to the other stairway opened inward, effectively keeping them shut as dozens of girls threw their bodies against them. One elevator was running improperly, and the fire escapes, aside from lacking any maintenance, were so narrow it would take several hours to evacuate the workers using them.

The fire started on the eighth floor. The cause is believed to be from a worker surreptitiously discarding a cigarette in a scrap bin. Two months of scrap cloth was under the sewing machines, coupled with dozens of lines of hanging fabric. 

Most of the workers on the upper two floors, including Blanck and Harris, escaped to the roof and then to adjoining buildings. Smoke turned the eighth-floor room of two hundred fifty people into pitch black night. The screams and chaos, coupled with the near-impossibility of escape, created an everyone-for-themselves atmosphere. 

People grabbed fire hoses to find them rotten and rusted. Girls rushed to the stairway only to pile up against the doors, where they were suffocated, crushed, and burned. 

Some escaped via the elevator. Those waiting for it to make its return trip became desperate, and threw themselves down the elevator shaft. A total of 36 girls were found crumpled at the bottom of the ten-story shaft.

Many tried to leave via the rear fire escape, which collapsed after a few dozen crammed themselves onto it.

At the loss of any discernible exits, girls began appearing at the windows to jump to the street below — over a hundred feet. As those below looked on, they jumped, sometimes two, three, four at a time, some holding hands. One witness remembers a boy and girl exchanging a kiss at the windows before their final leap.

Another witness, a reporter, said “I learned a new sound that day, a sound more horrible than description can picture — the thud of a speeding living body on a stone sidewalk.” 

A New York State assemblyman present at the fire said, “the eighth, ninth, and tenth stories of the building were now an enormous roaring cornice of flames. I saw girl after girl appear at the reddened windows, pause for a terrified moment, and then leap to the pavement below, to land as mangled, bloody pulp. Occasionally a girl who had hesitated too long was licked by the pursuing flames and, screaming with clothing and hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to the street.” The crowd, he said, was inconsolable. “Women were hysterical, scores fainted; men wept as, in paroxysms of frenzy, they hurled themselves against the police lines.”

Fire departments were completely ineffective: No ladder nor available water jet reached the eighth floor, and firefighters were prevented from getting inside the building by the corpses on the street and by plummeting victims. They eventually had to wait — and watch, with the rest of the crowd, as the jumpers became less and less frequent and the  faint screams from the upper floors died away.

A hundred and forty-five people, mostly young girls, perished in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

Blanck and Harris, the mass-murderers, were tried on charges of manslaughter, but acquitted, no doubt related to the corrupt ties they held with the city’s politicians. However, they did lose a civil suit and were ordered to pay out in the amount of 75 dollars per deceased victim. 

Ironically, the two men received an insurance settlement for their “losses” in the equivalent amount of four hundred dollars per casualty. In short, they EARNED money. Blanck and Harris made a tidy three hundred and twenty five dollars every time a teenage girl stood hyperventilating and sobbing with fear above a hundred feet of empty space, and then splattered to the sidewalk, every time someone was pressed against a two hundred degree door by dozens of people, every time someone crouched in a closet while acrid smoke filled their lungs. If you thought this couldn’t get any worse, allow me to make it so: two years later, Blanck and Harris were arrested for locking another set of doors in a factory, but were once again acquitted. 

And if that doesn’t churn your blood, I’m afraid I can’t help you.

phoenixyfriend  asked:

Since you're the one that seems to be spearheading the Jewish Howard Stark headcanon thing (and thank you, for that), would you say that his conversation with Peggy in the recently released sneak peak supports that? His comments on religion and social class being barriers to getting to a higher place in society and all that?

Oh my God, he is Jewish!!

Haha, sorry. Thanks for the ask, that’s the first time I’ve seen the clip. 616 Howard was born into money—he didn’t start his fortune. Apparently MCU Howard Stark’s origin is very different from 616 Howard’s, so some of the assumptions I made in my first post aren’t accurate. 

Let’s break it down:

  • “My mother sewed shirtwaists for a factory”: for most Americans, the term “shirtwaist” evokes images of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which killed 146 people. The majority of the women working there were Jewish or Italian. The shirtwaist industry was primarily Jewish. I’ll quote Wikipedia here: “The New York shirtwaist strike of 1909…was a labor strike primarily involving Jewish women working in New York shirtwaist factories.”
  • At the time, 50% of the women working in the garment industry were Jewish. Again, Wikipedia: “In the production of shirtwaists in particular, the workforce was nearly all Jewish women.
  • “The press of the day often referred to the garment industry as ‘a Jewish problem.’ The owners were almost exclusively Jewish, as were the majority of the workers.” (source)
  • he grew up on the Lower East Side: this was a very ethnically diverse neighborhood in the 1910s, but it has always been associated primarily (and very strongly) with the Jewish community. Very strongly. I’m from NYC, and I can tell you that our public schools teach the Lower East Side as a Jewish neighborhood. The Lower East Side is home to some of the most important Jewish cultural signifiers in America. 
  • It was also known as Little Germany for a period, and since, realistically, the only other possible ethnicity for Howard is German, that’s worth examining. However, and this is from Wikipedia, “The neighborhood’s ethnic cohesion began to decline in the late 19th century from the population dynamics of non-German immigrants settling in the area.” In 1904, over a decade before Howard was born, a steamboat chartered by the local Lutheran Church sank, killing about 1,021 of its 1,300 passengers. This greatly accelerated the, at that time rapid, decline of the German population on the Lower East Side. 97 Orchard Street, a major tenement museum and a staple of any public school student’s field trips, apparently serves as a good indicator for ”the neighborhood’s majority ethnic group,” and in 1870 residents of the building were 55% German. By 1910, 100% of residents were Yiddish speaking, meaning they were at least ethnically Jewish. (source)
  • Statistically speaking, the most likely ethnicity for someone born in 1918 on the Lower East Side was Ashkenazi.
  • There’s a ceiling for certain types of people based on how much money your parents have”: The construction of this sentence is interesting. When he’s talking about “certain types of people,” he’s not referring to growing up poor. He’s saying that other poor Americans can get somewhere on their own, but that there’re “certain types of people” who need more than their ingenuity, who can’t just jump into the American dream. That he had to lie to move past his “type.”
  • Your social class, your religion, your sex!” Social class is too vague a term, I’m not going to get into it. He says “sex” at the end very pointedly, indicating that Peggy should agree with him. But why bring up religion? When did religion come into this conversation? It was always there. From the moment he said he grew up on the Lower East Side, Peggy knew what that meant.
  • “The only way to break through that ceiling sometimes is to lie, so that’s my natural instinct: to lie." This one is almost self-explanatory. Why has Howard’s ethnic background never come up? Because he’s Jewish, and he doesn’t tell people that because if he did, his life would be 100x more difficult. Of course, in the context of this scene he’s justifying a very specific lie to Peggy, but he began the conversation with his origins, and he’s still referring to that here. He’s saying, “how did I get past that ceiling for ‘certain types of people?’ I lied about it.” What did he lie about? Not about having money. Not about coming from nothing. Those would be unnecessary and extremely convoluted lies. He lied about his type. And what could his type be, that he had to lie about it? 

If you’re curious about what I’ve written previously, here are the other posts: (basic info) and (the Anna Jarvis scene)

So I fell off the earth for…. yknow… the summer. But I have drawn things and those things shall be posted.

Starting with this drawing of Asches, a Geist character from Geist: the Sin-Eaters. They are not mine they belong to one of my players but I really wanted to take a stab at drawing them. Asches is comprised of the memories and ghosts from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.

When summer temperatures exceeded 100 degrees inside the company’s Breinigsville, Pennsylvania warehouse, managers would not open the loading bay doors for fear of theft. 

Ever hear of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire you fucks

Nostalgia Filter

For those who think of the “good old days” in America, you should remember EVERY generation sees those “good old days” as different periods and in a different light.

As part of those “good old days” you might want to look into…

Anti-Chinese immigration laws
Mixed race marriage laws
Homosexuality as a mental illness/felony
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
Henry Clay Frick
Robber Barons
Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall
Sundown towns
The Pullman Strike
The Ludlow Massacre
The Memorial Day Massacre
The Homestead Strike
The Haymarket Riot
No unemployment pay
No pensions
No social security
No welfare
No food stamps
No health insurance
No overtime
The Panic of 1873
The Panic of 1893
Native American Boarding Schools
The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1919-20
Yellow Fever in New Orleans
Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”
The photographs of Jacob Riis
In 1900 18%of all American workers were under the age of 16
Children as young as 3 working in food production
Boys as young as 8 working 10 hour shifts underground in coal mines
Girls as young as 6 working 12 hour shifts in textile mills
No food safety standards
No water safety standards
Women and people of color denied the right to vote
Poorhouses and work farms
No workplace safety
The Dustbowl
The Great Depression
Internment Camps
No vaccinations
No antibiotics
Anti-Catholic/Papist bias
The Tuskegee Experiment
Jim Crow laws
Eugenics movement
The Bonus Army
Johnstown Flood
Iroquois Theater Fire
Coconut Grove Fire

And that’s just a bit, and that’s just American. There’s tragedy,corruption, Misery and all the trappings everywhere.
The “good old days ” look better when you’re not going through them. Bad goes with good. You can’t go back All you can do is try to fix NOW


Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

On March 25, 1911, a fire broke out in a garment factory in Greenwich Village causing the death of 146 people, mostly young women from New York’s immigrant communities. The catastrophe served as a galvanizing moment for the labor movement and provided the impetus for improved fire-safety regulations in factories across the city.

Frederick Hugh Smyth.  Triangle Waist Co. Factory Fire, Washington Place & Greene Street. 1911. New-York Historical Society.


Courfeyrac grew up in a nondescript household with a mother and father that existed as quietly as they could, went to work, got groceries, and never did anything out of the ordinary. Or so it would have appeared to any one of their neighbors. Courfeyrac grew up learning her lessons differently than most children. Her mother would reminder her, on nights when Courfeyrac wanted to play football with the other kids on the street, of the stories of their ancestors, other fire witches that had been found out as one of the worlds most dangerous magical creatures. They had a long history of death and destruction, from the Great Fire in London in 1666 to the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in New York. The fire came with passion. It would consume her hands and sometimes her hair, burning anything it came in contact with other than her own skin. Courfeyrac would have to learn to control her emotions, an almost impossible trait for an idealist young adult excluded from almost all of society. The trapped feeling would lead her to find the Underground, to deal in the black market despite what her parents told her, trying to find some way to stop the fire that would cover her. It would take until meeting Enjolras and Combeferre for Courfeyrac to feel safe. Fire witches, like gorgons are not even welcome in magical circles. They are too dangerous, accidents happen so Courfeyrac feels alienated from everyone. Her greatest treasure are the large gloves Combeferre enchanted to contain the fire. They were not sure they would work at first but a few mishaps and arguments later Courfeyrac owned a pair of gloves that would let her be herself in the world. They give her freedom.


The Backstory | Enjolras | Combeferre | Courfeyrac Grantaire | Jehan

To read/see more about this universe track the Moonlight Beneath tag or follow the artist Juliette and the creator Marie

Verizon Workers Strike for fair treatment and wages. #verizon workers strike near the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. (at Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire)

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of March 25th 1911 was the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City. It was the deadliest disaster in NYC until the destruction of the World Trade Centre. 146 people died in the fire mainly Jewish or Italian immigrants, predominately female. The median age of the victims was 16 to 23. The youngest victims were both 14. The fire began on the ninth floor of the Asch Building on Washington Street. Because the factory managers had locked the exits, as was common practice, many girls jumped from over eight stories to escape the flames. The intense public backlash and the rise in labour militancy following the fire led to the creation of federal factory safety legislations, which facilitated further industrial reform. Max Hochfield, who worked at the factory and narrowly escaped with his life at the expense of his sister’s became obsessed with revenge.  “I began to plan how to get a gun,” he says. “I would go to collect the wages they owed me - and my sister. The bosses would be there. I would come in and ask for the money. I would kill them.” As a member of Local 25 of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union he went to the union for assistance; “He listened to me and said, ‘No, not that way. I know how you’re are suffering. But you’re a young fellow. You’ll ruin your life. Take my advice. Killing won’t do you any good and it won’t do us any good. Shooting? No; making the union stronger? yes; that’s the way.’ ” The ILGWU went on to be a leading voice in many sweatshop and labour reform movements of the early twentieth century. But even now Hochfield laments:  “Still and all, if I had had the money and if I had known where to buy a gun, I would have gone through with the plan.” The factory owners Max Blanck and Isaac Harris escaped the fire safely. Following the quashing of their manslaughter charges they were court ordered to pay $75 per victim in compensation. Their fire insurance payout resulted in Blanck and Harris receiving $400 per victim. In 1913 Blanck was fined $20 for once again locking the exits at his new factory.

theatre students have the most twisted sense of humor seriously for our OAP we’re doing the play Triangle which is based off the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 in which 146 workers (129 female, 17 male) were killed. and for curtain call we chose the song…wait for it…This Girl is on Fire.