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Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy

Page history last edited by Mr. Hengsterman 5 years, 5 months ago


Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy [1911]

 On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City burst into flames.  The factory was crowded.  The doors were locked to ensure workers stay inside.  One hundred forty-six people—mostly immigrants women  representing nearly  twelve nationalities —perished leading  to changes in working conditions and initiating radical new laws




The story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire is the intersection of several narratives we have been discussing in class. Immigration and Urbanization serve as a backdrop to the rise of the American labor movement and the role of progressives and radicals within the labor movement .


Points to Consider - Role of Government: The changing scope of government regulations; the role of such regulations in promoting competition and worker safety; the ongoing debate over having more or less government regulation of business; and the fact that government regulations are sometimes instituted in response to illegal or unethical business practices


Points to Consider - Gender Equality The struggle for gender equality and the extent of women's progress toward economic opportunity, social equality, and political rights


Points to Consider - Labor Organzation The rights of organized labor and the shifting role of government in regulating business, along with the political conflict created by workers' demands for increased protections and improved working conditions



Directions: While watching this documentary, answer the guided viewing questions below.

1. What was a typical day like for workers at the Triangle factory?


2. In what ways was this workplace dangerous?


3. How much money did the workers earn?


4. For what reasons did bosses dock workers' pay?


5. What caused the fire that broke out at the Triangle factory on March 25, 1911?


6. What did workers discover when they ran to the Washington Place stairway? Why was this door locked?


7. How many people died in the Triangle fire?


8. What concrete changes did the government institute to make workplaces safer for factory workers?


9. Should Blanck and Harris have been held legally responsible for the deaths of the Triangle workers? Why?


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