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Drawing "The Locked Door!" refers to the Triangle fire and depicts young women throwing themselves against a locked door in an attempt to escape the flames.

Kheel Center’s Triangle Fire Site Honored

The Triangle Fire website at the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives has received the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s 2022 Health & Safety Virtual Exhibit of the Year Award.

Recognizing excellence in communicating the risk control challenges related to workers and/or public health and safety, the award is made annually by the non-profit organization’s Museum & Cultural Heritage Industry Working Group. The Kheel Center is in Catherwood Library. Catherwood, located in the ILR School, is part of Cornell University Library.

“The exhibit highlighted a tragedy that became the bedrock for so many transformational workplace fire, health and safety regulatory acts and initiatives. The virtual exhibit is easy to navigate and well curated with humanely presented details on the victims, historical recordings, and primary/secondary documents,” Kathryn Makos, working group chair, wrote in announcing the award today. 

Friday was the 111th anniversary of the fire, which was the deadliest workplace tragedy in American history until 9/11. It killed 146 workers, most of them young immigrant women, at the Triangle Waist Factory in New York City.

“We are honored by this prize. Workplace safety has been so important over the last two years and the AIHA has done such an incredible job. It is a perfect time to recognize this horrible tragedy from which so much necessary legislation came,” said Curtis Lyons, the Harriet Morel Oxman Director of the Catherwood Library.

The Kheel Center’s Triangle Fire collection is housed within its International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union archives, which include the papers of Leon Stein, who wrote a definitive account of the tragedy in a 1962 book entitled “The Triangle Fire.” It drew on newspaper stories, court documents and interviews with survivors, fire victims’ families and others. 

In 1997, the materials became more broadly available to the public through the Kheel Center website devoted to the fire. Since then, hundreds of thousands of visitors – many of them schoolchildren – access the website, now in its third iteration. The site sections include:

The American Industrial Hygiene Association is an 8,500 member international association for scientists and professionals committed to preserving and ensuring occupational and environmental health and safety in the workplace and community. 


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