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Carding Room at Men's Underwear Factory, Hudson, NY, 1912

Men's underwear factory: carding room
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3029-78_B4_F8
Document Description
Workers feed cotton into machines in the carding room of the Washington St. plant of Union Mills, a men's underwear manufacturer located in Hudson, New York. One of the men holds a broom for sweeping the excess off the floor. The Factory Investigation team noted that "owing to the absence of ducts and hoods the whole room is so filled with floss that it is difficult to see." The cotton in the air and on the floor was noted as a dangerous fire hazard, 1912.

Historical Context
On March 25, 1911, a deadly factory fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City killed 146 workers, including many young immigrant women, who were trapped in the building by locked and blocked exits.  The public was horrified by this needless loss of life.  In response, the New York State Legislature created the Factory Investigating Commission to examine working conditions in factories and other businesses.  In the four years of its existence, the Commission reported on fire hazards, unsanitary conditions, occupational diseases, working hours, wages, and more.  Many of the Commissions' recommendations to the state legislature later became laws to protect workers.

When the Factory Investigating Commission visited the factory in this photograph, they were concerned that all the cotton on the floor and in the air created a dangerous fire hazard.


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