The Liz Library presents Irene Stuber's Women of Achievement - Women's History Month

Episode #WHM-25 for Day 25
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Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
 who is solely responsible for its content.

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The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

      Event 03-25-1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, New York City. In 18 minutes it left 146 dead, mostly young immigrant women workers who were said to be traditionally locked inside the building by their employers allegedly to prevent the women from leaving their work stations, but others said only one door was kept open so the girls could be searched for stolen lace or material.
      The fire occurred in the top three stories of a 10-story building and the city's fire ladders only reached to the seventh floor. Most of the women jumped to their death hand-in-hand from the upper story windows rather than be burned alive.
      How the fire started is not definitely known but investigators found that in spite of work regulations, the male cutters were allowed to smoke since "You would get little work out of your men if you would prevent it," according to the company owner afterwards.
      The tight aisles had been choked with discarded scraps and papers. The loft buildings such as housed the Triangle company avoided the New York fire and health codes which stipulated that there be 150 cubic feet of air for each worker by having ceilings 12 feet or more so the air was above was counted while the workers themselves were packed in unsanitary conditions that spawned brown lung.
      A photograph taken after the fire shows the one fire escape made of inferior steel twisted and broken from the weight of the women attempting escape who fell to their deaths. None of the Triangle managment or owners were ever punished. Except for a VERY minor wrist slapping, they were back in business shortly afterwards.


B. 03-25-1347, Saint Catherine of Sienna, Italian mystic who helped persuade the pope to return the papacy to Rome from France.

B. 03-25-1872, Higuchi Ichiyo, Japanese poet and novelist.

B. 03-25-1921, Mary Douglas, English social anthropologist authority on the meaning of symbols, rules, and patterns of social behavior.

B. 03-25-1921, Nancy Kelly, actress won 1955 Tony Award for her performance in Bad Seed.

B. 03-25-1921, Simone Signoret, French actress, writer. Appeared in the classic La Ronde, 1950, and won the 1958 Academy Award for her work in A Room at the Top.

B. 03-25-1922, Eileen Ford, model agency executive.

B. 03-25-1934, Gloria Steinem, author, journalist, feminist, strong voice of the feminist movement; referred to by the media during the 70s as "the pretty one." Co-founder of Ms. Magazine (1972).

B. 03-25-1940, Anita Bryant, singer, was Miss Oklahoma (1958) and Miss America finalist, married a Miami Beach disk jockey who was rumored to have ambiguous relations with Bryant's minister and together they had a Svengali effect on her so that she turned right-wing religious activist and spearheaded a vicious anti-gay campaign. After her divorce she mellowed somewhat and moved to NW Arkansas where a lot of white aryans live.

B. 03-25-1942, Aretha Franklin, singer, multi Grammy award winner. A national treasure.


      "The extraordinary woman depends on the ordinary woman. It is only when we know what were the conditions of the average woman's life, the number of her children, whether she had money of her own, if she had a room to herself, whether she had help in bringing up her family, if she had servants, whether part of the housework was her tasks - it is only when we can measure the way of life and the experience of life made possible to the ordinary woman that we can account for the success or failure of the extraordinary woman as a writer."
            -- Virginia Woolf, British essayist, critic and novelist, born 01-25-1882, writing in A Room of Her Own.

      "Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size."
            -- Virginia Woolf

      "I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman."
            -- Virginia Woolf

      "Masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice."
            -- Virginia Woolf

      "Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of fat happy women."
            -- Sylvia, cartoon by Nicole Hollander

© 1990-2006 Irene Stuber, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71902. Originally web-published at We are indebted to Irene Stuber for compiling this collection and for granting us permission to make it available again. The text of the documents may be freely copied for nonprofit educational use. Except as otherwise noted, all contents in this collection are © 1998-2009 the liz library.  All rights reserved. This site is hosted and maintained by the liz library.