The Worst Factory Fire in the United States: The Tragedy of The Triangle Shirtwaist Company

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was a women’s blouse factory located at the ten floored Asch building in Manhattan, New York City and is the home of both the worst factory fire in America during that time period and the first women’s strike against a factory (1). The company’s specialty was shirtwaists which were blouses that had a tight waist and puffy sleeves which were popular during that time period. The company was owned by Max Blank and Isaac Harris; the men had emigrated from Russia as young boys. (4) The factory workers were made up of five hundred plus immigrant women that worked in the factory were very young, some close to even thirteen to fourteen years of age (4), and did not speak English very well (3). The women who worked here worked long hours six days a week, nine hours during the week and seven on Saturdays, for seven to twelve dollars a week in an uncomfortable environment. An interview between Joan Morrison and Pauline Newman shows how little the factory workers were really paid. Newman had said, “The wage scales. You forget nothing, as long as your memory serves, and mine does. My own wages when I got to the Triangle Shirtwaist Company was a dollar and half a week.” Also earlier in the interview Newman told Morrison about how they wouldn’t pay over-time but would be “generous” enough to give you a small apple pie for dinner (2). Because of the demand of wanting a safer working condition, shorter work week, increase in pay and recognition as a union

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