Audio & Video Sources

Oral History of Triangle Fire Survivor (1911)

Download Audio (MP3)

Right-click (Ctrl-click for Mac users) the above link and select "Save Link As..."

»Sample Media Worksheet

Click here to show/hide Media Worksheet.

Transcript

In this oral history, a survivor of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company described the poor working conditions and nonexistent safety regulations that contributed to the deadly fire, which caused the deaths of 146 out of the 500 workers crammed inside the building. The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was typical of manufacturing enterprises in large cities: its workforce was comprised of mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant workers, it was fiercely resistant to unionization, and it was guilty of chronically under-paying its workers. The tragedy of the fire was, however, a galvanizing, formative event for a generation of reformers, including future president Franklin D. Roosevelt, for whom it confirmed the need for an active government to protect the health and welfare of otherwise powerless workers.

Theodore Roosevelt, "The Right of the People to Rule" (1912)

Download Audio (MP3)

Right-click (Ctrl-click for Mac users) the above link and select "Save Link As..."

»Sample Media Worksheet

Click here to show/hide Media Worksheet.

Transcript

In this campaign speech, Theodore Roosevelt addressed the question of whether the American people were fit to govern themselves. In the decades since the Civil War, a growing number of influential American thinkers had expressed doubts about the fitness of ordinary Americans-especially immigrants, workers, and women-to choose effective leaders and to determine the best responses to the challenges of modern life. Many politicians preferred to rely on experts, who were supposedly disinterested technicians that were capable of understanding the complex processes at work in the American economy and growing urban centers. What rights did Roosevelt promise to defend for ordinary Americans?

From Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Women and Economics (1898)

Download Audio (MP3)

Right-click (Ctrl-click for Mac users) the above link and select "Save Link As..."

»Sample Media Worksheet

Click here to show/hide Media Worksheet.

Transcript

The spirit of personal independence in the women of today is sure proof that a change has come. . . . The radical change in the economic position of women is advancing upon us. . . . The growing individualization of democratic life brings inevitable change to our daughters as well as to our sons. . . . One of its most noticeable features is the demand in women not only for their own money, but for their own work for the sake of personal expression. Few girls today fail to manifest some signs of this desire for individual expression. . . . Economic independence for women necessarily involves a change in the home and family relation. But, if that change is for the advantage of individual and race, we need not fear it. It does not involve a change in the marriage relation except in withdrawing the element of economic dependence, nor in the relation of mother to child save to improve it. But it does involve the exercise of human faculty in women, in social service and exchange rather than in domestic service solely. Today], when our still developing social needs for an ever-increasing . . . freedom, the woman marrying becomes the house-servant, or at least housekeeper, of the man. . . . When women stand free as economic agents, they will [achieve a] much better fulfilment of their duties as wives and mothers and [contribute] to the vast improvement in health and happiness of the human race.