I recently sat down with Irish Central to talk about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, which marks its 110th anniversary this March 25th. Between research for my Gilded Age novel manuscript, Irish Eyes and my three-part podcast series with Irish historian Fin Dwyer, there was soooo much fascinating material that didn’t make it into either of those projects, leaving me lots to talk about, not only the grim facts of the fire but the workplace reforms won its wake.
The fire took the lives of 146 workers, most of them immigrant women and girls. The youngest victim was just 14 years old. Triangle policies such as denying workers fire drills and locking workroom doors from the outside greatly contributed to the catastrophic loss of life — the deadliest workplace disaster in New York State until 9/11.
In combing through the debris afterward, rescuers recovered fourteen engagement rings, a poignant reminder of the thwarted promise of so many young lives lost.
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