The deaths of 145 employees of the Triangle Waist Company during a fire in the factory stunned New Yorkers and the nation. Public concern mounted as investigations revealed the locked stairwells, crowded conditions, and unsafe environment in which the employees, predominantly women, worked and subsequently died. The New York State Legislature responded by establishing the Factory Investigating Commission to study working conditions in a variety of industries and businesses.
The records of the Factory Investigating Commission provide researchers with a detailed view of early twentieth century working life. The majority of records are from the Wage Investigation and include information on thousands of individual workers' salaries, work hours, personal expenses, and family finances. They also reflect working conditions as reported by the investigators who visited various factories and businesses. Administrative records reflect the views of government agencies, businessmen, civic groups, and subject experts on working condition problems and potential solutions.
The records of the Factory Investigating Commission are part of the holdings of the New York State Archives. The Commission's records consist of over twenty series, totalling more than forty cubic feet. Most of these records have been microfilmed and the microfilm copies are available on inter-library loan. They are also available for purchase at cost of duplication. Microfilming of selected records and preparation of this Guide were supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This finding aid provides a general history of the Factory Investigating Commission, describing the range of issues it studied, although surviving records are primarily from the Wage Investigation. Descriptions of each record series generated by the Commission are arranged in groups by general type or subject of the records. Finally, a list is provided of those record series which have been microfilmed and are therefore available on inter-library loan or for purchase.
The records of the Factory Investigating Commission are available to researchers at the State Archives. Research Assistance provides further information about the content or use of these or other State Archives holdings.
This finding aid was prepared by Elisabeth A. Golding, Senior Archivist.