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Essay

Open Posted By: highheaven1 Date: 28/02/2021 Graduate Report Writing

one 2-3 page essay (typed and double-spaced). Your essay should have a brief introduction followed by several paragraphs – one major point for each paragraph – and a short conclusion.  


Topic:  

Explicate this passage by Rose Schneiderman (it comes from Todd’s “Remembering the Unknowns”). You answer should include a brief discussion of Schneiderman, who she was and the context in which she was speaking. (You should find this information in the article and not on Wikipedia.) Who was she talking to when she made this speech? What does she mean when she says that public officials “have the workhouse just back of all their warnings”? Why does she say that she “can’t talk fellowship” with those who organized the meeting (and were sitting in the orchestra seats)? Your answer should include a discussion of social class. 

I would be a traitor to those poor burned bodies if I were to come

here and talk good fellowship. . . . We have tried you citizens; we 

are trying you now and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing

mothers and brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every

time the workers come out in the only way they to protest against 

conditions which are unbearable, the strong hand of law is allowed to 

press down heavily upon us. Public officials have only words of warning

or us – warning that we must be intensely peaceable, and they have the

workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law

beats us back when we rise. . .. I can’t talk fellowship to you who are 

gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my 

experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. And the 

only way is through a strong working-class movement (Todd, 67).  

Category: Mathematics & Physics Subjects: Algebra Deadline: 12 Hours Budget: $120 - $180 Pages: 2-3 Pages (Short Assignment)

Attachment 1

Remembering the Unknowns: The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Author(s): Ellen Wiley Todd

Source: American Art , Vol. 23, No. 3 (Fall 2009), pp. 60-81

Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/649776

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms

The University of Chicago Press and Smithsonian American Art Museum are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Art

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60 Fall 2009

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61 American Art Volume 23, Number 3 © 2009 Smithsonian Institution

Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns, 1912. Marble, 9 ft. 10 in. high including pedestal. The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo, Ellen Wiley Todd

On the afternoon of Saturday March 25, 1911, fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company. Located on the top three floors of the ten-story Asch Building in New York’s Greenwich Village, the factory, which was the city’s largest producer of the popular high-necked shirtwaist, had been notorious for undermining garment union attempts to improve working condi- tions.1 Within twenty-five minutes after sparks ignited oil-soaked cotton scraps, 146 young Jewish and Italian immigrant workers, all but 13 of them young women, perished in the massive blaze. Days later, after hundreds of family members had filed past coffins to claim the victims, seven unidentified bodies remained at the morgue. A committee representing predominantly Jewish garment workers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Women’s Trade Union League requested that the bodies be released for a public funeral proces- sion, citing the long-standing custom of the unions to provide a decent funeral for every worker.2 City officials refused. The coroner professed hopes that more bodies would be identified in the future, but Commissioner of Charities Michael Drummond, responsible for orchestrating New York’s recovery and relief efforts, reportedly feared mass expressions of outrage. Municipal leaders announced

that instead the bodies would be interred on April 5 in a private ceremony at the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, where the city owned a plot. In response, the union and its allies immediately pro- claimed a memorial parade for all city workers, also to take place on April 5. Widely distributed handbills in English, Yiddish, and Italian asked all workers to “join in rendering a last sad tribute of sympathy and affection.”3

These simultaneous memorials occurred on a rainy day but under altogether dif- ferent circumstances. In Manhattan the funeral march (fig. 1), with almost four hundred thousand people both march- ing and watching, converged quietly on Washington Square, proceeding north from the Lower East Side and south from Madison Square. Meanwhile, five male city officials, headed by Commissioner Drummond, moved in the opposite direc- tion, ferrying caskets of the unknown victims from the morgue across the East River to the nondenominational cemetery in Brooklyn. There a Roman Catholic priest, an Episcopal minister, and a rabbi read their respective burial services. The memorial service concluded with a quartet from the Elks Brooklyn lodge singing “Abide with Me” and “Nearer My God to Thee,” period favorites from the Protestant repertoire of hymns.4 But these victims

Remembering the Unknowns The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Ellen Wiley Todd

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62 Fall 2009

were laid to rest in an isolated field, at the distant perimeter of the cemetery, far from the mourning workers. Deliberately separated from their communities of class, occupation, ethnicity, and perhaps even religion, they were bid farewell, not by the young women with whom they shared the labors of sewing, but by a group of men only wishing to avoid the presumed dangers of collective grief.

A year and eight months after the fire, in January 1913, the official magazine of the Red Cross pictured a monument that had been erected over the site sometime in the preceding month without any public fanfare or apparently any unveiling ceremony (fig. 2).5 The frontispiece to this essay shows the monument as it exists today, beautifully tended, with the once empty field occupied by later graves. A large vertical slab bears a relief of a half- kneeling, half-crouching, mourning female figure, carved in a quietly anguished pose of internalized grief. Her arms encircle the neck of a large Greek-style krater, and her hands are clasped. Her head bows forward, resting on a mass of draped cloth whose classically inspired folds and forceful twists feature prominently in the composition. Drapery that rests across her lap loops upward to frame the exposed left side of her ample body. Coiling over her right

shoulder, it is gathered in the arc of her hands around the urn. She weeps into the substantial folds of material gathered under her face, marking the loss of workers whose hands will never again fashion cloth into garments. The inscription beneath the figure reads, “In sympathy and sorrow citizens of New York raise this monument over the graves of unidentified women and children who with one hundred and thirty nine others perished by fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory Washington Place March 25 1911.” On the reverse, a smaller panel acknowledges that Mayor William J. Gaynor’s relief fund, administered by the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee of the Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, left a “sufficient balance to erect this monument.”6 The committee was chaired by Robert W. de Forest, a lawyer who had provided important politi- cal support to the fledgling Municipal Art Society’s City Beautiful activities, which afforded him connections to the nation’s elite sculptors. It was probably de Forest, on behalf of the Emergency Relief Committee, who commissioned Evelyn Beatrice Longman, a protégé of prominent sculptor Daniel Chester French, to design the memorial’s relief.7

The impetus for the Longman monu- ment, which has been unattributed until now, arose from controversy over memorial activities culminating in the public funeral and the private interment of the unknown victims. In the days after the fire, debates about funeral arrangements and mourning behavior were deeply embedded in the ongoing politics of class, gender, and labor in the aftermath of the 1909 Shirtwaist strike, whose failures to provide safety reform were seen by many constituen- cies to have culminated in the Triangle fire.8 More broadly, however, the funeral procession and the monument operated on relatively distinct memory principles and launched forms of remembrance that initially seemed oppositional but over time have become more atuned to one another.

On the second anniversary of the fire,

1 Mourners gather alongside the funeral procession route to honor the Triangle Fire victims, New York, April 5, 1911. Photo- graph. UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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63 American Art

in 1913, ILGWU labor leader Pauline M. Newman argued for a living, activist process of remembering. “The way to honor the memory of the dead is to build up a strong and powerful organization that will prevent such disasters as that of two years ago and serve as a monument to the dead. Lest we forget!”9 She demanded ongoing labor organizing and advocated for improved working conditions, the results of which, she claimed, would constitute a perpetual memorial to fallen workers.10 By contrast to this activist agenda, the Longman monument appeared unannounced and remained shrouded in silence for years, allowing those whose aesthetic and ideological interests it served to move forward and forget, exactly what Newman did not want to have happen. Historian James Young has described this type of forgetting, writing that “once we assign monumental form to memory, we have to some degree divested ourselves of the obligation to remember. In shoulder- ing the memory-work, monuments may relieve viewers of their memory burden.”11

In their own ways, the memorial activities and the monument secured the identities and beliefs of their respective participants and audiences.

The memorial parade took its form from a twenty-year heritage of immigrant Jewish public funeral processions, but it downplayed religious signs to allow for a multiethnic ceremony. As historian Arthur Goren has shown, these public funerals were both rituals of collective affirmation and political declarations designed to reaf- firm a way of life, the goals of the fallen, and to enhance the Jewish self-image. Organizers and participants performed both for themselves and for Gentile observ- ers with the aid of the press that regularly covered these large-scale events.12 The monument, although it served as a gesture of atonement on the part of the upper- middle-class elites who commissioned it, should be read against a shifting class-based discourse on urban social control and moral order that pervaded the ideology of the Charity Organization Society. As outlined by historian Paul Boyer, this or- ganization tried to provide gently coercive examples of correct social behavior to immigrant populations, in the hopes that inculcating individual self-control and self-improvement would result in a more civilized populace. Greater cooperation between classes toward shared ideals of civic reform would bring about more “natural relations” between classes.13 By the 1910s, however, a new generation of social activists and workers had embraced social theories that focused on the practical environment, proposing legislation for higher wages as well as improvements in conditions at work and at home. Instead of addressing codes of public behavior around assembly, protest, and mourning—as in the wake of the fire—new alliances of progressives sought workplace change and social justice. Under this newer model, progressive elites and advocates of industrial democracy worked in common cause, as would happen through corrective workplace legislation in the wake of the fire. But it

2 Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns. From American Red Cross Bulletin 8 (January 1913), 42

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64 Fall 2009

was the older model of dignified mourning behavior that appeared in the monument, whose classical iconography and especially its location largely failed to signify for the communities it memorialized. Indeed, unintended insult entered the equation in the monument’s location for one potential constituency of mourners; placed at the cemetery’s edge, the grave occupied the position that observant Jewish tradition reserved for drifters and criminals.14 Only when this section of the cemetery with its accompanying plantings developed around the monument did it assume the integrated form it has today, in its honorific plot with a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline in the distance (fig. 3).

Relief, Outrage, and Mourning

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, relief efforts came from two distinct groups, union activists and allies on the one hand, and the Charity Organization Society on the other.

The first group, called the Joint Relief Committee, included activists from ILGWU Local 25, who were joined by like-minded progressive organizations that had supported its strike causes in the past: the Women’s Trade Union League, the Workmen’s Circle, and the Jewish Daily Forward. The second major group coalesced around the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee of the Charity Organization Society—the eventual source of funds for the memo- rial. Spearheaded by Mayor Gaynor and buttressed by high-society worthies, the committee opened an office in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on Madison Square. The committee worked with staff recruited from the United Hebrew Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, while the police supplied victims’ names. Members of the Joint Relief Committee, many of whom spoke the languages of the bereaved, accompanied trained Red Cross workers during interviews with the survivors and families to learn what kinds of help

3 Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns, 1912 (distant view). The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo, Ellen Wiley Todd

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65 American Art

were needed. As early as Wednesday, March 28, most families on the police list had been visited. The relief groups also shared responsibility for distributing funds. The union took charge of relief for past and present union members, while the Red Cross committee helped non-union victims and provided aid to families of immigrant workers who were still living in Europe and dependent on money sent to them. Throughout these initial days, money poured in from religious and educational communities as well as from cultural and commercial

groups that donated proceeds from theatrical events and daily receipts from stores.15

But if these relief efforts crossed class, cultural, and political boundaries, battle lines were drawn in the daily newspapers as public outrage about the fire generated calls for the blame to be laid at someone’s door as well as demands for safety legisla- tion and for different forms of public mourning, especially for the unknowns. These sentiments escalated within the newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, whose stories supported workers and often fueled the kind of emotional content that city of- ficials mistrusted. Indeed, most papers deployed the discursive features of period melodrama, as it has been described by film scholar Ben Singer. The New York American, for example, vastly inflated the numbers of trapped employees (from 500 to 1,500) and elevated the body count to 175 (fig. 4). In the tragedy’s aftermath, newspapers deployed melodramatic tropes of overwrought emotion, moral polariza- tion, and sensationalism that highlighted suffering and difference, especially in class and gender terms.16 In particular, news accounts focused on female working-class mourning behavior, emphasizing stories of distraught workers. Hearst’s New York American preyed on families, staging pictures at the morgue before and after bodies were identified. In one such set (figs. 5, 6), six female workers confront the camera “Awaiting Their Turn to Seek Lost Relatives,” while in the photograph

4 Policemen and bystanders with bodies of Triangle Fire victims on Greene Street, New York Ameri- can, March 26, 1911, 1. Photo, courtesy of Joshua Brown

5 “Awaiting Their Turn to Seek Lost Relatives,” New York American, March 27, 1911, 2

6 “Grief Stricken Relatives Leaving the Morgue,” New York American, March 27, 1911, 3

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66 Fall 2009

documenting the later scene, relatives hold handkerchiefs and one woman swoons, supported by friends on the right. The caption reports exaggerated responses ranging from “hysterical to dumb with despair.” Even the more staid New York Times condemned “scores of women, transformed by grief into unreasoning furies, who resisted ordinary efforts to check them. They rushed about moaning and crying and tearing their hair. They were hardly capable of making a thorough examination of the bodies.”17 Connections between female hysteria and irrationality, typical of the period more broadly, were linked to the Triangle Fire itself. A few of the published descriptions attributed greater loss of life to female panic. Such readings failed, however, to account for the locked doors and crowded conditions on the site of the fire or the loss of daugh- ters in their teens and early twenties. These young women often provided the sole support to families and served as their only English speakers. Commentators also ignored different cultural and religious forms of mourning. Accounts of public memorials in the Jewish Daily Forward, for example, routinely cited physical lam-

entation and public outcry as typical and acceptable.18

Class conflict over behavior—linked both to mourning traditions and larger mistrust between constituencies—also suffused major memorial gatherings and protest meetings around the city. The sharpest distinction between class and be- havior was drawn by Rose Schneiderman, the tireless union activist who had partici- pated in the Waistmakers strike and lost friends in the fire (fig. 7). Schneiderman’s now well-known remarks were made on April 2 at an unprecedented cross-class meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House, a site rented by Ann Morgan, suffrage activist, garment union supporter, and daughter of the famous financier. As Triangle Fire historian Leon Stein described the setting, the upper galleries were filled with Lower East Siders, and the orchestra with women “trailing fur and feathers.”19 The attempt to find common ground in civic reform began when those in charge of the meeting offered a resolution asking for the establishment of a Bureau of Fire Prevention, more inspectors, and workmen’s compensa- tion. Those in the balconies voiced their

distrust of citizen committees that failed to include union workers or union inspectors. As the meeting deteriorated, alternating between applause and boos from the balcony, Schneiderman intervened:

I would be a traitor to those poor burned bodies if I were to come here to talk good fel- lowship. . . . We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers and brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbear- able, the strong hand of the law

7 Speakers at mass meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House. Rose Schneiderman at upper right. New York World, April 3, 1911, 3

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67 American Art

is allowed to press down heavily upon us. Public officials have only words of warning for us—warning that we must be intensely orderly and must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back when we rise. . . . I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. And the only way is through a strong working-class movement.20

Schneiderman adopted the rhetoric of sep- arate working-class activism that Pauline Newman would two years later claim as a memorializing process. For Schneiderman, the civic ideal of controlled behavior would never emerge from “natural rela- tions” between classes but would only be dictated from the top. And, finally, it would not improve working lives.

Ironically, the memorial procession to the fallen workers on April 5 served as a decorous rebuke to the city elites who were simultaneously on their way to Brooklyn to inter the unidentified dead. Where police had feared “the thickly populated foreign districts—where emo- tions are poignant and demonstrative,” they found instead an ominous silence in the gathering of four hundred thousand who marched and lined the two parade routes for six hours. Organizers called for an end to class conflict, and the Morgen Zhurnal urged, “Ideologies and politics should be set aside, opponents and enemies forgotten, and all should bow their heads and grieve silently over the victims of the horrendous misfortune.” The Jewish Daily Forward described the procession as demonstrating workers’ noble sense of duty as they proclaimed the unity and strength of unions.21 The organizers banned all visual forms of political protest and overt religious expression, putting in their stead or- ganization and union banners (fig. 8). Instead of the plain pine box of observant Jewish tradition—to symbolize the fallen—they substituted a hearse covered with flowers and drawn by white horses covered in black netting—demonstrative signs typical of Italian funerals (fig. 9). Operating as a civic memorial, the pro- cession deployed symbols that represented the nameless victims who in turn stood for all the dead. Silence, orderliness, sorrow, and sobriety permeated a crowd with a substantial female contingent who, on a pouring rainy day and in deference to their fallen sisters, marched without hats, umbrellas, or overshoes.22

8 Mourners from the Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union Local 25 and the United Hebrew Trades of New York march in the streets after the Triangle Fire, 1911. Pho- tograph. UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

9 Trade parade in memory of the Triangle Fire victims, April 5, 1911. Bain News Service Photo- graph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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68 Fall 2009

The Longman Memorial

In the Evergreens Cemetery memorial, the same qualities of sorrow and dignified grief characterized the design of Evelyn Beatrice Longman’s sculpture as it was installed in early December 1912. The monument’s commission, its maker’s background, its setting and iconography, and the cloak of silence enveloping its completion come together to reinforce the web of the sometimes intersecting but more often separate class, gender, and ethnic positions on memorializing detailed above. Why was Longman, a female sculptor, chosen for this memorial? Under what circumstances did she produce it, and what might have been her thoughts on a commission so fraught with controversy and grief? Why did she never include the memorial in her own records, and why was there no press coverage when it appeared? While some of what follows emerges from concrete docu- mentation, other features of the interpreta- tion are offered in the spirit of plausible speculation.

By the time Longman (1874–1954) received the commission for the Triangle memorial’s relief sculpture sometime in early 1912, she was fully embarked on a successful career as a sculptor of major public works, private memorials, allegorical figures, and smaller portrait busts. Longman (fig. 10) came of age at a time when increasing numbers of women were exhibiting and selling sculpture. Unlike many of her female peers, who specialized in small-scale genre works or garden fountains, however, she sought her reputation as a monumental public sculp- tor. The field was dominated by men who discouraged women’s attempts to compete for these prize commissions. In 1912 her position and achievements in the sculp- tural profession, her integrity and ideals in relation to the constituency represented by the Emergency Relief Committee, and her biography all contributed to her being the logical choice in the view of that committee.23

Longman’s training and professional connections placed her at the heart of the sculptural elite in New York City, despite the fact that she was born in Ohio and grew up in Chicago. She found initial inspiration from visiting the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in her hometown, where she saw dozens of women receiving their first experience making sculptural decoration. After a two-year stint at Olivet College in Michigan, from 1896 to 1898, she sub- mitted a portfolio of drawings and was accepted to study sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There she came under the tutelage of Beaux- Arts sculptor Lorado Taft, who not only encouraged promising women but also held grand ambitions for America’s civic sculptural movement, tied to City Beautiful ideals. Already focused and ambitious for herself, Longman found Taft a strong mentor and completed her four-year program in two years. Recognizing that her best opportunities for major commissions were on the East Coast, she departed for New York City in 1900. She was armed with letters of introduction from Taft and from Art Institute director William M. R. French to his brother sculptor Daniel Chester French as well as a return ticket provided by skeptical friends.24 She would never need it. French hired her as his first and only female studio assistant and soon wrote his brother that the strength of Longman’s work “entirely vindicates your recommendation.”25

Longman rented a studio at 11 East Fourteenth Street. Over the next several years, until about 1906, she combined labor in French’s nearby Greenwich Village studio with her own sculptural production.26 Longman and French’s three-decade relationship, which lasted until his death in 1931, began with Longman very much the student-assistant to the great teacher- sculptor, twenty-five years her senior, and the overworked French sent commissions

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69 American Art

her way. Before long it grew into a close personal friendship extending to French’s entire family. As evidenced in correspon- dence between Longman and French and with other sculptors, their association was touched by the paternalistic or def- erential age and gender dynamics typical of the period and the sculptural vocation. On balance, however, the …

Attachment 2

Remembering the Unknowns: The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Author(s): Ellen Wiley Todd

Source: American Art , Vol. 23, No. 3 (Fall 2009), pp. 60-81

Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/649776

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected] Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at https://about.jstor.org/terms

The University of Chicago Press and Smithsonian American Art Museum are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Art

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60 Fall 2009

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61 American Art Volume 23, Number 3 © 2009 Smithsonian Institution

Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns, 1912. Marble, 9 ft. 10 in. high including pedestal. The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo, Ellen Wiley Todd

On the afternoon of Saturday March 25, 1911, fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Company. Located on the top three floors of the ten-story Asch Building in New York’s Greenwich Village, the factory, which was the city’s largest producer of the popular high-necked shirtwaist, had been notorious for undermining garment union attempts to improve working condi- tions.1 Within twenty-five minutes after sparks ignited oil-soaked cotton scraps, 146 young Jewish and Italian immigrant workers, all but 13 of them young women, perished in the massive blaze. Days later, after hundreds of family members had filed past coffins to claim the victims, seven unidentified bodies remained at the morgue. A committee representing predominantly Jewish garment workers of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) and the Women’s Trade Union League requested that the bodies be released for a public funeral proces- sion, citing the long-standing custom of the unions to provide a decent funeral for every worker.2 City officials refused. The coroner professed hopes that more bodies would be identified in the future, but Commissioner of Charities Michael Drummond, responsible for orchestrating New York’s recovery and relief efforts, reportedly feared mass expressions of outrage. Municipal leaders announced

that instead the bodies would be interred on April 5 in a private ceremony at the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, where the city owned a plot. In response, the union and its allies immediately pro- claimed a memorial parade for all city workers, also to take place on April 5. Widely distributed handbills in English, Yiddish, and Italian asked all workers to “join in rendering a last sad tribute of sympathy and affection.”3

These simultaneous memorials occurred on a rainy day but under altogether dif- ferent circumstances. In Manhattan the funeral march (fig. 1), with almost four hundred thousand people both march- ing and watching, converged quietly on Washington Square, proceeding north from the Lower East Side and south from Madison Square. Meanwhile, five male city officials, headed by Commissioner Drummond, moved in the opposite direc- tion, ferrying caskets of the unknown victims from the morgue across the East River to the nondenominational cemetery in Brooklyn. There a Roman Catholic priest, an Episcopal minister, and a rabbi read their respective burial services. The memorial service concluded with a quartet from the Elks Brooklyn lodge singing “Abide with Me” and “Nearer My God to Thee,” period favorites from the Protestant repertoire of hymns.4 But these victims

Remembering the Unknowns The Longman Memorial and the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Ellen Wiley Todd

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All use subject to https://about.jstor.org/terms

62 Fall 2009

were laid to rest in an isolated field, at the distant perimeter of the cemetery, far from the mourning workers. Deliberately separated from their communities of class, occupation, ethnicity, and perhaps even religion, they were bid farewell, not by the young women with whom they shared the labors of sewing, but by a group of men only wishing to avoid the presumed dangers of collective grief.

A year and eight months after the fire, in January 1913, the official magazine of the Red Cross pictured a monument that had been erected over the site sometime in the preceding month without any public fanfare or apparently any unveiling ceremony (fig. 2).5 The frontispiece to this essay shows the monument as it exists today, beautifully tended, with the once empty field occupied by later graves. A large vertical slab bears a relief of a half- kneeling, half-crouching, mourning female figure, carved in a quietly anguished pose of internalized grief. Her arms encircle the neck of a large Greek-style krater, and her hands are clasped. Her head bows forward, resting on a mass of draped cloth whose classically inspired folds and forceful twists feature prominently in the composition. Drapery that rests across her lap loops upward to frame the exposed left side of her ample body. Coiling over her right

shoulder, it is gathered in the arc of her hands around the urn. She weeps into the substantial folds of material gathered under her face, marking the loss of workers whose hands will never again fashion cloth into garments. The inscription beneath the figure reads, “In sympathy and sorrow citizens of New York raise this monument over the graves of unidentified women and children who with one hundred and thirty nine others perished by fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory Washington Place March 25 1911.” On the reverse, a smaller panel acknowledges that Mayor William J. Gaynor’s relief fund, administered by the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee of the Charity Organization Society of the City of New York, left a “sufficient balance to erect this monument.”6 The committee was chaired by Robert W. de Forest, a lawyer who had provided important politi- cal support to the fledgling Municipal Art Society’s City Beautiful activities, which afforded him connections to the nation’s elite sculptors. It was probably de Forest, on behalf of the Emergency Relief Committee, who commissioned Evelyn Beatrice Longman, a protégé of prominent sculptor Daniel Chester French, to design the memorial’s relief.7

The impetus for the Longman monu- ment, which has been unattributed until now, arose from controversy over memorial activities culminating in the public funeral and the private interment of the unknown victims. In the days after the fire, debates about funeral arrangements and mourning behavior were deeply embedded in the ongoing politics of class, gender, and labor in the aftermath of the 1909 Shirtwaist strike, whose failures to provide safety reform were seen by many constituen- cies to have culminated in the Triangle fire.8 More broadly, however, the funeral procession and the monument operated on relatively distinct memory principles and launched forms of remembrance that initially seemed oppositional but over time have become more atuned to one another.

On the second anniversary of the fire,

1 Mourners gather alongside the funeral procession route to honor the Triangle Fire victims, New York, April 5, 1911. Photo- graph. UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

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63 American Art

in 1913, ILGWU labor leader Pauline M. Newman argued for a living, activist process of remembering. “The way to honor the memory of the dead is to build up a strong and powerful organization that will prevent such disasters as that of two years ago and serve as a monument to the dead. Lest we forget!”9 She demanded ongoing labor organizing and advocated for improved working conditions, the results of which, she claimed, would constitute a perpetual memorial to fallen workers.10 By contrast to this activist agenda, the Longman monument appeared unannounced and remained shrouded in silence for years, allowing those whose aesthetic and ideological interests it served to move forward and forget, exactly what Newman did not want to have happen. Historian James Young has described this type of forgetting, writing that “once we assign monumental form to memory, we have to some degree divested ourselves of the obligation to remember. In shoulder- ing the memory-work, monuments may relieve viewers of their memory burden.”11

In their own ways, the memorial activities and the monument secured the identities and beliefs of their respective participants and audiences.

The memorial parade took its form from a twenty-year heritage of immigrant Jewish public funeral processions, but it downplayed religious signs to allow for a multiethnic ceremony. As historian Arthur Goren has shown, these public funerals were both rituals of collective affirmation and political declarations designed to reaf- firm a way of life, the goals of the fallen, and to enhance the Jewish self-image. Organizers and participants performed both for themselves and for Gentile observ- ers with the aid of the press that regularly covered these large-scale events.12 The monument, although it served as a gesture of atonement on the part of the upper- middle-class elites who commissioned it, should be read against a shifting class-based discourse on urban social control and moral order that pervaded the ideology of the Charity Organization Society. As outlined by historian Paul Boyer, this or- ganization tried to provide gently coercive examples of correct social behavior to immigrant populations, in the hopes that inculcating individual self-control and self-improvement would result in a more civilized populace. Greater cooperation between classes toward shared ideals of civic reform would bring about more “natural relations” between classes.13 By the 1910s, however, a new generation of social activists and workers had embraced social theories that focused on the practical environment, proposing legislation for higher wages as well as improvements in conditions at work and at home. Instead of addressing codes of public behavior around assembly, protest, and mourning—as in the wake of the fire—new alliances of progressives sought workplace change and social justice. Under this newer model, progressive elites and advocates of industrial democracy worked in common cause, as would happen through corrective workplace legislation in the wake of the fire. But it

2 Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns. From American Red Cross Bulletin 8 (January 1913), 42

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64 Fall 2009

was the older model of dignified mourning behavior that appeared in the monument, whose classical iconography and especially its location largely failed to signify for the communities it memorialized. Indeed, unintended insult entered the equation in the monument’s location for one potential constituency of mourners; placed at the cemetery’s edge, the grave occupied the position that observant Jewish tradition reserved for drifters and criminals.14 Only when this section of the cemetery with its accompanying plantings developed around the monument did it assume the integrated form it has today, in its honorific plot with a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline in the distance (fig. 3).

Relief, Outrage, and Mourning

In the immediate aftermath of the fire, relief efforts came from two distinct groups, union activists and allies on the one hand, and the Charity Organization Society on the other.

The first group, called the Joint Relief Committee, included activists from ILGWU Local 25, who were joined by like-minded progressive organizations that had supported its strike causes in the past: the Women’s Trade Union League, the Workmen’s Circle, and the Jewish Daily Forward. The second major group coalesced around the Red Cross Emergency Relief Committee of the Charity Organization Society—the eventual source of funds for the memo- rial. Spearheaded by Mayor Gaynor and buttressed by high-society worthies, the committee opened an office in the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building on Madison Square. The committee worked with staff recruited from the United Hebrew Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, while the police supplied victims’ names. Members of the Joint Relief Committee, many of whom spoke the languages of the bereaved, accompanied trained Red Cross workers during interviews with the survivors and families to learn what kinds of help

3 Evelyn Beatrice Longman, The Triangle Fire Memorial to the Unknowns, 1912 (distant view). The Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Photo, Ellen Wiley Todd

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65 American Art

were needed. As early as Wednesday, March 28, most families on the police list had been visited. The relief groups also shared responsibility for distributing funds. The union took charge of relief for past and present union members, while the Red Cross committee helped non-union victims and provided aid to families of immigrant workers who were still living in Europe and dependent on money sent to them. Throughout these initial days, money poured in from religious and educational communities as well as from cultural and commercial

groups that donated proceeds from theatrical events and daily receipts from stores.15

But if these relief efforts crossed class, cultural, and political boundaries, battle lines were drawn in the daily newspapers as public outrage about the fire generated calls for the blame to be laid at someone’s door as well as demands for safety legisla- tion and for different forms of public mourning, especially for the unknowns. These sentiments escalated within the newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer, whose stories supported workers and often fueled the kind of emotional content that city of- ficials mistrusted. Indeed, most papers deployed the discursive features of period melodrama, as it has been described by film scholar Ben Singer. The New York American, for example, vastly inflated the numbers of trapped employees (from 500 to 1,500) and elevated the body count to 175 (fig. 4). In the tragedy’s aftermath, newspapers deployed melodramatic tropes of overwrought emotion, moral polariza- tion, and sensationalism that highlighted suffering and difference, especially in class and gender terms.16 In particular, news accounts focused on female working-class mourning behavior, emphasizing stories of distraught workers. Hearst’s New York American preyed on families, staging pictures at the morgue before and after bodies were identified. In one such set (figs. 5, 6), six female workers confront the camera “Awaiting Their Turn to Seek Lost Relatives,” while in the photograph

4 Policemen and bystanders with bodies of Triangle Fire victims on Greene Street, New York Ameri- can, March 26, 1911, 1. Photo, courtesy of Joshua Brown

5 “Awaiting Their Turn to Seek Lost Relatives,” New York American, March 27, 1911, 2

6 “Grief Stricken Relatives Leaving the Morgue,” New York American, March 27, 1911, 3

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documenting the later scene, relatives hold handkerchiefs and one woman swoons, supported by friends on the right. The caption reports exaggerated responses ranging from “hysterical to dumb with despair.” Even the more staid New York Times condemned “scores of women, transformed by grief into unreasoning furies, who resisted ordinary efforts to check them. They rushed about moaning and crying and tearing their hair. They were hardly capable of making a thorough examination of the bodies.”17 Connections between female hysteria and irrationality, typical of the period more broadly, were linked to the Triangle Fire itself. A few of the published descriptions attributed greater loss of life to female panic. Such readings failed, however, to account for the locked doors and crowded conditions on the site of the fire or the loss of daugh- ters in their teens and early twenties. These young women often provided the sole support to families and served as their only English speakers. Commentators also ignored different cultural and religious forms of mourning. Accounts of public memorials in the Jewish Daily Forward, for example, routinely cited physical lam-

entation and public outcry as typical and acceptable.18

Class conflict over behavior—linked both to mourning traditions and larger mistrust between constituencies—also suffused major memorial gatherings and protest meetings around the city. The sharpest distinction between class and be- havior was drawn by Rose Schneiderman, the tireless union activist who had partici- pated in the Waistmakers strike and lost friends in the fire (fig. 7). Schneiderman’s now well-known remarks were made on April 2 at an unprecedented cross-class meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House, a site rented by Ann Morgan, suffrage activist, garment union supporter, and daughter of the famous financier. As Triangle Fire historian Leon Stein described the setting, the upper galleries were filled with Lower East Siders, and the orchestra with women “trailing fur and feathers.”19 The attempt to find common ground in civic reform began when those in charge of the meeting offered a resolution asking for the establishment of a Bureau of Fire Prevention, more inspectors, and workmen’s compensa- tion. Those in the balconies voiced their

distrust of citizen committees that failed to include union workers or union inspectors. As the meeting deteriorated, alternating between applause and boos from the balcony, Schneiderman intervened:

I would be a traitor to those poor burned bodies if I were to come here to talk good fel- lowship. . . . We have tried you citizens; we are trying you now and you have a couple of dollars for the sorrowing mothers and brothers and sisters by way of a charity gift. But every time the workers come out in the only way they know to protest against conditions which are unbear- able, the strong hand of the law

7 Speakers at mass meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House. Rose Schneiderman at upper right. New York World, April 3, 1911, 3

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67 American Art

is allowed to press down heavily upon us. Public officials have only words of warning for us—warning that we must be intensely orderly and must be intensely peaceable, and they have the workhouse just back of all their warnings. The strong hand of the law beats us back when we rise. . . . I can’t talk fellowship to you who are gathered here. Too much blood has been spilled. I know from my experience it is up to the working people to save themselves. And the only way is through a strong working-class movement.20

Schneiderman adopted the rhetoric of sep- arate working-class activism that Pauline Newman would two years later claim as a memorializing process. For Schneiderman, the civic ideal of controlled behavior would never emerge from “natural rela- tions” between classes but would only be dictated from the top. And, finally, it would not improve working lives.

Ironically, the memorial procession to the fallen workers on April 5 served as a decorous rebuke to the city elites who were simultaneously on their way to Brooklyn to inter the unidentified dead. Where police had feared “the thickly populated foreign districts—where emo- tions are poignant and demonstrative,” they found instead an ominous silence in the gathering of four hundred thousand who marched and lined the two parade routes for six hours. Organizers called for an end to class conflict, and the Morgen Zhurnal urged, “Ideologies and politics should be set aside, opponents and enemies forgotten, and all should bow their heads and grieve silently over the victims of the horrendous misfortune.” The Jewish Daily Forward described the procession as demonstrating workers’ noble sense of duty as they proclaimed the unity and strength of unions.21 The organizers banned all visual forms of political protest and overt religious expression, putting in their stead or- ganization and union banners (fig. 8). Instead of the plain pine box of observant Jewish tradition—to symbolize the fallen—they substituted a hearse covered with flowers and drawn by white horses covered in black netting—demonstrative signs typical of Italian funerals (fig. 9). Operating as a civic memorial, the pro- cession deployed symbols that represented the nameless victims who in turn stood for all the dead. Silence, orderliness, sorrow, and sobriety permeated a crowd with a substantial female contingent who, on a pouring rainy day and in deference to their fallen sisters, marched without hats, umbrellas, or overshoes.22

8 Mourners from the Ladies Waist and Dressmakers Union Local 25 and the United Hebrew Trades of New York march in the streets after the Triangle Fire, 1911. Pho- tograph. UNITE Archives, Kheel Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

9 Trade parade in memory of the Triangle Fire victims, April 5, 1911. Bain News Service Photo- graph. George Grantham Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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68 Fall 2009

The Longman Memorial

In the Evergreens Cemetery memorial, the same qualities of sorrow and dignified grief characterized the design of Evelyn Beatrice Longman’s sculpture as it was installed in early December 1912. The monument’s commission, its maker’s background, its setting and iconography, and the cloak of silence enveloping its completion come together to reinforce the web of the sometimes intersecting but more often separate class, gender, and ethnic positions on memorializing detailed above. Why was Longman, a female sculptor, chosen for this memorial? Under what circumstances did she produce it, and what might have been her thoughts on a commission so fraught with controversy and grief? Why did she never include the memorial in her own records, and why was there no press coverage when it appeared? While some of what follows emerges from concrete docu- mentation, other features of the interpreta- tion are offered in the spirit of plausible speculation.

By the time Longman (1874–1954) received the commission for the Triangle memorial’s relief sculpture sometime in early 1912, she was fully embarked on a successful career as a sculptor of major public works, private memorials, allegorical figures, and smaller portrait busts. Longman (fig. 10) came of age at a time when increasing numbers of women were exhibiting and selling sculpture. Unlike many of her female peers, who specialized in small-scale genre works or garden fountains, however, she sought her reputation as a monumental public sculp- tor. The field was dominated by men who discouraged women’s attempts to compete for these prize commissions. In 1912 her position and achievements in the sculp- tural profession, her integrity and ideals in relation to the constituency represented by the Emergency Relief Committee, and her biography all contributed to her being the logical choice in the view of that committee.23

Longman’s training and professional connections placed her at the heart of the sculptural elite in New York City, despite the fact that she was born in Ohio and grew up in Chicago. She found initial inspiration from visiting the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in her hometown, where she saw dozens of women receiving their first experience making sculptural decoration. After a two-year stint at Olivet College in Michigan, from 1896 to 1898, she sub- mitted a portfolio of drawings and was accepted to study sculpture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There she came under the tutelage of Beaux- Arts sculptor Lorado Taft, who not only encouraged promising women but also held grand ambitions for America’s civic sculptural movement, tied to City Beautiful ideals. Already focused and ambitious for herself, Longman found Taft a strong mentor and completed her four-year program in two years. Recognizing that her best opportunities for major commissions were on the East Coast, she departed for New York City in 1900. She was armed with letters of introduction from Taft and from Art Institute director William M. R. French to his brother sculptor Daniel Chester French as well as a return ticket provided by skeptical friends.24 She would never need it. French hired her as his first and only female studio assistant and soon wrote his brother that the strength of Longman’s work “entirely vindicates your recommendation.”25

Longman rented a studio at 11 East Fourteenth Street. Over the next several years, until about 1906, she combined labor in French’s nearby Greenwich Village studio with her own sculptural production.26 Longman and French’s three-decade relationship, which lasted until his death in 1931, began with Longman very much the student-assistant to the great teacher- sculptor, twenty-five years her senior, and the overworked French sent commissions

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69 American Art

her way. Before long it grew into a close personal friendship extending to French’s entire family. As evidenced in correspon- dence between Longman and French and with other sculptors, their association was touched by the paternalistic or def- erential age and gender dynamics typical of the period and the sculptural vocation. On balance, however, the …