Sunday, February 20, 2011

100 Years Later, 6 Victims of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Identified

Joseph Berger of The New York Times reports that six previously unidentified victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 have finally been identified, thanks to the perseverance of amateur genealogist and historian, Michael Hirsch.

The factory fire at Washington Place and Greene Street that occurred on March 25, 1911, claimed the lives of 146 persons (129 women, 17 men).

Twenty-three families sued the two owners and were eventually paid $75 each. The owners were acquitted of any wrongdoing.

A centennial commemoration of the fire at the Greenwich Village building will be held on Friday, March 25, 2011, from 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. which will include a reading of the victims' names -- which is now complete. At 4:45 p.m. (the time of the fire), a bell vigil will take place; 146 bells will ring, one for each victim, as visitors meditate on the lives lost. They are requesting churches, fire departments and the public to join in a pealing of bells.

Mr. Hirsch was hired by HBO as a co-producer for the upcoming "Triangle: Remembering the Fire." The documentary will debut on March 21, 2011. See the viewing schedule here. (On Twitter, you can follow @HBODocs or like their page on Facebook.)

Cornell University has assembled a comprehensive web site on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

A list of events honoring the 100th anniversary can be found at "Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition." Like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter @trianglefire.

Visit to hear one of the survivors speak (1986), and see photos.

On March 25th every year, volunteers fan out across the city to chalk the sidewalk with the names of the victims in front of their former homes.
Ten years ago tomorrow -- on February 22, the last survivor of the fire, Rose (Rosenfeld) Friedman, passed away at age 107. Read her incredible story here -- and how she survived by following company executives to the roof. She became a lifelong crusader for worker safety.

TRIANGLE: Remembering the Fire from Blowback Productions on Vimeo.


  1. Kath:

    Wonderful post on a horrific event. I will watch the documentary and share your work - thank you for posting!

    Enjoy your Monday,


  2. Hi Jenn,
    I started out with simply the NY Times piece, but I kept researching and learning so much more; I had to share it all. How eerily familiar this tragedy is to 9/11, with so many victims opting to jump rather than burn to death. At first, people thought they were tossing bolts of expensive fabric, then realized they were people on the ground, mostly young women.
    Use & share whatever you'd like.
    Enjoy your Monday, too!

  3. That's got to be a relief in its way for the families.

  4. Hi Charles,
    I agree. How painful this must have been for the families. Michael Hirsch really deserves the credit for his perseverance and painstaking work. He learned that one of the victims lived on his block, and he was off to the races after that.

  5. Kath:

    Eerily familiar to 9/11 is the truth. Please do present Michael Hirsch with a hats off from me; what a wonderful tribute he is helping to uncover. You know the old saying, never uncover an old wound - but in this case it honors those through lost that fateful day instead of losing the entire event to time.

    A true relief to families as stated before me.


  6. I am so touched that volunteers chalk the sidewalks in front of the former homes of these victims.
    There are so many events ongoing and leading up to the anniversary; I'm amazed how many organizations and people are participating.
    Their deaths were not in vain. Countless numbers of lives were SAVED as a result of improvements made after this tragedy.