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University at Albany Contributes to Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Commemorations

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire on March 25, 1911, in New York's Greenwich Village, led to reforms in workplace safety. (Photo, courtesy CSEA)

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 18, 2011) --

The horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, which killed 146 mostly young immigrant women on March 25, 1911, in New York’s Greenwich Village, will be remembered at the University at Albany’s School of Public Health (SPH) at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 25, with a panel of experts discussing how this event galvanized reform and led to safety laws protecting workers. The event will be held in the George Education Center Auditorium on UAlbany’s East Campus in Rensselaer.

The University is also involved in another Triangle fire commemoration that day through Ivan Steen, professor in the Department of History. Steen is a member of the Capital District Triangle Fire Centennial Coalition, which will hold a ceremony at the New York State Museum in Albany at 4 p.m.

At the later event, held on the exact date and time of the Triangle fire, the names of the fire’s victims will be read. Featured speakers will include U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, New York State Assemblyman John McEneny, and WCNY –Syracuse News Director Susan Arbetter. Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Howard J. Hubbard is also scheduled to participate.

“The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was not only one of the greatest workplace tragedies in American history, it ultimately led to significant improvements in workplace safety and in the treatment of workers,” said Steen, who directs the history department’s graduate program in public history, as well as the Center for Applied Historical Research. “This centennial recognition promises to be a moving experience.”

UAlbany undergraduate Bryan McGrath serves as an intern for the Triangle Fire Coalition.

The SPH panel on the East Campus features:

• Dr. Christopher Breiseth, of the Frances Perkins Center, who will talk about how the Triangle Fire motivated Perkins, U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933-45, to a lifetime of work protecting American workers.

• Jane Ladouceur, adjunct professor, College of Saint Rose, who has used archival interviews with survivors and witnesses to create a first-person account of the tragedy.

• Dr. Matthew Caddell, D.O., M.P.H., Occupational and Environmental Health Center of Eastern NY, who will discuss how the Triangle Fire led to occupational health and safety and fire-prevention measures.

• NYS Assemblyman Rory Lancman, who will close the event by handing out a resolution on workplace safety being introduced into the NYS Assembly.

The SPH panel is sponsored by the School’s Center for Public Health Continuing Education and Empire State Public Health Training Center in conjunction with the Occupational and Environmental Health Center of Eastern NY.

New York State United Teachers, Public Employees Federation, CSEA, the New York State Department of Labor and the American Labor Studies Center, all part of the Capital District Centennial Coalition, provided support for the commemoration at the museum.

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