By Ethan Shea
During the early twentieth century, women working in textile factories were subject to terrible working conditions and inhumane treatment by employers. In addition to grueling hours and minuscule pay, workers were often locked in the factory to prevent them from taking breaks.
Clearly, this was a health and safety violation, as was tragically made clear during the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, an industrial disaster that killed 146 garment workers, 123 of which were women and girls.
Such poor treatment led to years of strikes within the textile industry. The photo above shows three women garment workers on strike in New York City. These protests were essential to the establishment of unions and labor rights in the U.S.
In recognition of such contributions by brave women, the month of March is dedicated to celebrating women’s history, and the 31-day celebration begins today! Considering recent challenges to women’s reproductive rights, recognizing Women’s History Month is more important than ever.
March was chosen to be Women’s History Month because it coincides with International Women’s Day on Mar. 8. At first, Women’s History Month was only a week, the first of which occurred in 1978 as a local celebration in California.
Two years later, President Jimmy Carter declared the first National Women’s History Week to be the week of March 2-8, 1980. It was not until 1987 that March was officially declared Women’s History Month. Read more here!
Here at Falvey, there are countless resources that highlight women’s achievements. For example, the recent Art of War exhibit on the first floor of Falvey featured historical artifacts showing how women took part in the Second World War. Check out this blog to learn more!
Below are some more resources for Women’s History Month you can find right here at Falvey:
- U.S. Women’s History: Untangling the Threads of Sisterhood
- Selling Women’s History: Packaging Feminism in Twentieth-Century American Popular Culture
- Black Women’s History: Theory and Practice
- Women in World History: 1450 to the Present
- Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinemas, Past and Future
- Religious Women and Their History: Breaking the Silence
- Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country
Ethan Shea is a second-year graduate student in the English Department and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.
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