by Ryan Gilliam
‘The Uprising of the 20,000’ in 1909 was the largest strike by women that the U.S. had ever seen. The strikers, mostly young immigrant women in their teens and early 20’s, were a model of courage and tenacity throughout an 11 week general strike which captured attention of the entire city.
Opposition to the workers was led by the Triangle Factory, the largest manufacturer of shirtwaists – button-down ready-to-wear blouses widely worn across the country, a symbol of newfound female independence.
The strikers ultimately only achieved a portion of their demands. Thirteen months after the strike, the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire brought the young workers back into the public eye. Within the next five years, the entire garment industry, including worker’s rights, wages, and safety, would be transformed.
Clara Lemlich and the Uprising of the 20,000 (American Experience)
The Uprising of the 20,000 (Jewish Women’s Archive)