The Forward 50

Michael Hirsch

Michael Hirsch

Community

When historian Michael Hirsch set out on a quest to identify the last six victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, he had no idea that he was facing four years of painstaking research. To complete the list of the 146 victims of the 1911 fire, Hirsch read microfilm from New York City newspapers of the era, searching for clues to the six who had been buried as unknowns. He visited victims’ graves in 16 cemeteries and read every death certificate — three times — that was filed in the city during the two months after the fire.

His dogged research paid off, and Hirsch, 50, was able to reveal the last six names in a film he co-produced for HBO on Demand called “Triangle: The Unidentified.” The airing of the film was just one of the hundreds of events staged across the nation marking the 100th anniversary of the fire. Near Washington Square, a rally organized by labor unions drew thousands of people. Alluding to the largely Jewish and Italian immigrant workers who perished, U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis told the crowd, “We are reminded that we must always protect our most vulnerable workers.”

Thanks to Hirsch’s efforts, the annual reading aloud of the victims’ names this year, for the first time, included the previously unknown: Max Florin, Concetta Prestifilippo, Fannie Rosen, Dora Evans, Josephine Cammarata and Maria Lauletti. Hirsch, meanwhile, is continuing his research into the fire and sharing what he discovers with the families. “We are all retelling this Jewish story,” he said.

Plus One

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, the Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.