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Mar 25 2020 - 12:01 PM
Today In History: Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

On March 25th, 1911 fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory located on the eighth through tenth floors of the Asch building, currently the the landmarked Brown Building of Science, on Washington Place. It was one of the worst industrial fires in our local history -- a tragedy that caused 146 innocent deaths, mostly of women. The fire's cause was suspected to be a match or cigarette butt, thrown hastily into a scrap bin, since exits were locked to prevent some 500 workers from smoking during their breaks.

As a result, new regulations in factory safety were implemented, and the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, created, to protect the rights of laborers, many of whom were immigrants. Although sweatshop practices continued for decades, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire set a precedent for labor laws ensuring health and safety of workers.

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.


  • Check out Triangle Factory Fire, an exhibit from Cornell University which includes criminal trial transcripts, lists of victims and witnesses, bibliography, tips for student projects, and much more.
  • The 1911 Triangle Fire and Reform, Episode 18 of America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (29 min), via Kanopy
  • The Triangle Fire, by Leon Stein. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University/ILR Press, 2011 e-book



Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.