Today, March 25th, is the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire in New York City, in which 146 workers, mostly young immigrant women died. I first learned about it while doing research for my biography of Frances Perkins, who witnessed the tragedy. That searing experience, Perkins later said, was “a never-to-be-forgotten reminder of why I had to spend my life fighting conditions that could permit such a tragedy.” The first woman in the U.S. cabinet, Frances Perkins served as Secretary of Labor (1933-1945) and was the architect of far-reaching and important reforms and social legislation, including the establishment of Social Security. Every year there is a moving ceremony at the site of the event where there is a historic marker.
I’m off to Omaha, Nebraska, tomorrow to give a talk about my actual research and writing process of “Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: A Friendship That Changed the World.” On Friday I got an email from the organizer asking what snacks I’d like in my guest room; Sophie happened to be here so I asked her what she’d like–“donuts and ice cream!” Saturday night was “Girl Scout Night” at the American Museum of Natural History and Sophie and her Brownie troop were among the 300 girls who had a sleep-over at the museum, which included a flashlight-fossil-hunt! Her Daddy just emailed that she had a “great time but is exhausted”!