Monday, March 07, 2011

March Centennials: Women's Day and the Triangle Fire

Triangle: The Fire That Changed AmericaThis March 8, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.  For more on the history of this day honoring women see this timeline.  I've had labor unions on the brain, and was trying to think if we had read any books about unions and labor rights in the past and of course what immediately came to mind was David Von Drehle's Triangle: The Fire That Changed America which tells the story of the fire that took 146 lives, mostly of young immigrant women workers, and galvanized a movement for social justice.  As it happens, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire also happened in 1911, the same year, in fact just a week after, the first Women's Day. Learning more about the Triangle fire and the labor and women's rights movement associated with it, would be a great way to remember Women's Day this year.

As part of the commemoration of the Triangle tragedy, two documentaries about the fire are worth checking out.  The LAT recommends you watch both.  PBS American Experience offers Triangle Fire which has already aired and can be viewed online (or via Netflix streaming). Author David Von Drehle appears in the film. The PBS website features a map, photo gallery, biographies and other primary resources great for teachers and an excellent list of web resources for more information. (This Cornell site and Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition are especially worthy of exploration).  HBO's documentary is airing later this month. Here's the trailer:

Don't forget to check in with Amnesty's Human Rights Now blog this week for action suggestions to honor International Women's Day and visit the IWD website to learn more about other events celebrating the day.
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