In March 1911 a fire broke out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City.
The owner had locked all the doors to keep the workers at their sewing machines; the fire escapes were so rusty they fell apart; and the fire trucks’ ladders could not reach the top floors.
Some women were killed when they tried to jump from the windows, but most died inside. Altogether 143 women and 3 men were killed.
At a memorial service labor organizer Rose Schneiderman lashed out at the public for ignoring all the women who had died over the years because of terrible workplace conditions.
“Too much blood has been spilled,” she declared, and she urged workers to “save themselves” by uniting in “a strong working-class movement.”
Some 100,000 mourners marched down Fifth Avenue after the memorial service, but the factory owners were never punished for the conditions that led to the disaster.