The American Dream was a myth to the women who worked in the New York City shirtwaist factories in the early 20th century.
Most of them immigrants, they were subjected to long hours, poor pay and unsafe working conditions. All in the name of progress. The women were forced to work at the impossibly rapid pace of the factories' new electrical sewing machines.
Despite barely being able to put food on the table, living in cramped quarters and sending what little money they could of their pathetic earnings to their families back in their native countries, these women went on strike and rallied for unions. Some changes were made, but not many.
It took a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory that killed 146 people, mostly women, sparked by the greed, inhumanity and ignorance of the industrial age, to motivate legislation to improve the lives of women who worked in shirtwaist factories.
This is their story. Thank you PBS.