I’m home this sunny afternoon trying to prep for a class I’m teaching on International New York. I took my students last week to the Tenement Museum, where the guide mentioned the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. The students hadn’t heard about it, so I thought, I’ll show them that section of the DVD of the Burns documentary…

but on second thought, I’d better not. It’s TOTALLY devastating. Between the descriptions of the thuds the bodies of the young seamstresses as they hit the stone sidewalk, and the little detail that inspectors later found eleven engagement rings among the ruins, tears were racing down my cheeks. I don’t think I could control myself if I were to show that in the classroom, and I think students might not be able to take it either, even if they missed some of the language. I’d better stick with the section on the lower east side and ask them to watch this section on their own.

To get informed about current struggles for the betterment of working conditons for garment workers, have a look at the Clean Clothes Campaign.

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