The Press Depiction of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York on March 25, 1911

Ewa Wiśniewska
2016 Studia z Historii Społeczno-Gospodarczej XIX i XX wieku  
T he outbreak of the Industrial Revolution in England and Scotland, which dates around 1760s, triggered numerous changes in social life of the inhabitants of the Western world. Along the development of modern machinery, there appeared the factory system, which involved a new type of employee. Together with the appearance of factories, the demand for respecting one's rights for proper working conditions emerged. As the sources claim, During the 1790s, for example, the average workday was twelve
more » ... o sixteen hours. In 1791 carpenters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, went on strike for a shorter working day. They demanded a twelve-hour day, including ten hours of work and two hours off for meals -breakfast and dinner. "They will work from six to six -how absurd!" remarked a local Philadelphia newspaper. The strike failed and the carpenters eventually went back to work 1 . Seemingly, the first attempts of strikes were futile, but they were soon repeated with greater success. At the end of the nineteenth century, working conditions were subject of heated social debate. Since New York was one of the biggest centers of industry and culture, no wonder that it became the birthplace of organizations that aimed at changes. As the sources claim: Women labor reformers believed that they shared a gendered sympathy for working-class women and that they were uniquely positioned to speak on their behalf. They also viewed women workers as a particularly vulnerable group, not least because they were all but ignored by male union leaders. Women's organizations pointed out that women worked long hours at wages that were sometimes less than half of what men earned 2 .
doi:10.18778/2080-8313.16.08 fatcat:6mffjo6zxva7jbzmu6v4ol2kgu