Sociology, history, gender studies, political science classes, and the freshman honors program at the University of Massachusetts Lowell spent several weeks learning about the 1912 Lawrence, Mass., textile strike.
One hundred years ago today, in 1912, the first American Girl Scout troop was formed by Juliette Gordon Low. She had just returned from England, where she had met Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts and, with his sister Agnes, the Girl Guides.
Low returned to her home in Savannah, Georgia, full of plans for a similar organization for American girls. She called her cousin on the phone, saying, “I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!” She brought together 18 girls to form the first troop, and her niece, Margaret “Daisy Doots” Gordon, was the first registered member. The organization now has more than 3 million members.
Today marks the centennial anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history and a seminal moment for American labor. On March 25, 1911, 146 garment workers, mostly young immigrant women, died after a fire broke out at the factory. Many of them leaped to their deaths when they tried to escape and found the emergency exits locked. “I saw people throwing themselves from the window. As soon as we went down, we could not get out because the bodies were coming down” says the last survivor of the fire in a 1986 interview with Amy Goodman. Denied any collective bargaining rights, the Triangle workers were powerless to change the abysmal conditions in their factory: inadequate ventilation, lack of safety precautions and fire drills—and locked doors.
100th Anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire via DemocracyNow!
Growing up as I did in New York, not far from “the City” as we used to call it, we learned about this in history class. How could conditions have been so bad in the ole USA, which we also were taught to think of as so grand? Eventually we learned that the country only got that way by effort and attention to what was just.