Remember The Triangle Fire Coalition

Triangle Fire Open Archive

Memorial

Invitations + responses to the 1961 Triangle Fire Memorial

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Local 105 to Dubinsky

Contributed by : Autumn Heath-Simpson

Object # 195

1961

These are invitations from David Dubinsky to attend the 1961 memorial and acceptance letters from the unions. Of the unions that respond, my favorites are the Local 32 – Corset & Brassiere Worker’s Union, and the Local 105 – Snow Suits, Ski Wear, Leggings, Infants’ and Novelty Sportswear Union. Those two represent the wonderful variety of unions at the time. In the invitation, Dubinsky emphasizes the importance of memory of the fire in re-invigorating members’ involvement.

Courtesy of : Kheel Center

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Commentary

In 1961, David Dubinsky of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union planned a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Triangle Fire. The ceremony began at 10:30 AM and was attended by a wide variety of organizations that felt connected to the fire, including NYU, the New York Fire Department and the Police Department. Dubinsky also felt it necessary to invite garment unions of the time and encouraged them to come to the commemoration in large numbers. The commemoration lasted only an hour, but it had a large impact, not only because of who was in attendance, but because it was used as a platform for continued dedication to the labor cause and the safety of workers.
- Norma Jean Garriton
One of the driving forces behind the highly successful 50th anniversary commemoration–which had Eleanor Roosevelt among the honored guests–was Leon Stein, the author of the first major history of the tragedy, titled simply, “The Triangle Fire.” Stein was a remarkable man, a garment worker turned ILGWU editor and historian. It’s hard to believe now, but before Leon Stein, the story of the Triangle fire was slipping from memory, neglected by the union and by city archivists and historians.
Stein changed that with this 50th anniversary commemoration and with the subsequent publication of his book. As we mark the 100th anniversary, we should recall with gratitude this first steward of our shared memory.
- David Von Drehle

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