Today in Labor History: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 results in the death of 146 workers

March 25, 2013

102 years ago today, on March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City — one of the deadliest industrial disasters in United States history– left 146 workers dead.

Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building interior after the fire. Photograph from the National Archives.

In the aftermath of the fire Congress passed sweeping reforms in labor laws and safety standards, providing a boost to labor unions. After the fire, Frances Perkins served as secretary for the Committee on Safety, which led the way to new labor laws. Perkins later became FDR’s Secretary of Labor — the first woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.

As Secretary of Labor, Perkins was instrumental in creating and implementing the Social Security Act.

Use these links to learn more about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire; see more photographs about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire; and read more about Frances Perkins.

Baffled about shirtwaists? Here’s an article from NPR’s American Experience series that answers the question “What is a shirtwaist?”

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