Triangle Fire Open Archive

Creating a collaborative online space to explore the importance of the Triangle Fire today

The Triangle Fire Open Archive was created by Buscada, in collaboration with the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, one of the worst workplace disasters in American history, and a seminal event in American labor history. An ongoing participatory online archive and digital humanities project, it tells of the significance of the Triangle Fire through historical narrative and human connection, inspired by the widely varying labor, safety, art, activist and pedagogical perspectives of the Coalition. The Archive’s website invites the public to contribute objects which tell one aspect of the Triangle Fire / Asch Building story. They may be embedded in its moment of conflagration in 1911, or may refer to the event’s extraordinary influence in the everyday world as we now know it. With the power of communal testimony, no one person has the responsibility for every perspective, but together we created an entwined whole.

Visit the site : The Triangle Fire Open Archive

"A powerful encounter... it invites the visitor to engage, reflect, and speculate on a prismatic and fragmented story... It is a people's archive."
P. R. Zimmerman & H. De Michiel
Open Space New Media Documentary

Exhibited at the Brooklyn Historical Society, March 2011

Vernacular objects help make the unfathomable concrete, and make the distinct connected. As part of this project, Buscada solicits objects for the Open Archive, and photographs these objects, often with their contributors. By juxtaposing individual stories and objects on the website, we invite readings through a range of thematic lenses, by which the collection as a whole gives context to each individual contribution, imparting a rich sense of the human and political legacy of the Triangle Fire.

By collecting objects in person and online, the Open Archive straddles the boundary between the virtual and the real. Likewise, the March 2011 Pop-up Exhibition of the Open Archive at the Brooklyn Historical Society brought what is usually only seen online into the real world, and the following year, our Triangle Fire Open Museum brought these objects into critical spaces for immigrant, labor, and women’s rights around New York City.

“We Are One” ILGWU newsletter, 1982

Contributed by : Mei Yin Tsang and Alice Ip Object # 1574

People are saying: 

The Triangle Fire Open Archive on the Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC
Stories from the Triangle Fire Open Archive featured on the Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC, March 25, 2011

Architect’s Newspaper
“The Triangle Fire Open Archive commemorates the event in a very modern way, with user-generated contributions that allow the larger community to tell the story of the fire and critically reflect on its relevance today.”

The Triangle Fire Open Archive pop-up exhibition at Brooklyn Historical Society featured as a pick of the week.

The Lo Down
“a comprehensive and evolving web site that seeks to tell the stories of the Triangle fire through multi-faceted community contributions”

“Small Places in the Era of the Big Problem/ Big Place Documentary: The Triangle Fire Open Archive.” in Patricia R. Zimmerman & Helen De Michiel, Open Space New Media Documentary: A Toolkit for Theory and Practice. New York & London: Routledge, 2018.

“The Triangle Fire Open Archive expands in multiple directions across the decades as a living documentary collaboration… It works with microhistorical strategies… Deceptively simple, the website embodies a powerful encounter with this seminal event in American labor history. It invites the visitor to engage, reflect, and speculate on a prismatic and fragmented story… It is a people’s archive.”

“Fair Exchange.” in Ruth Sergel, See You in the Streets: Art, Action, and
Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016.

“Gabrielle’s deeply sensitive photography placed the contributions in the context of memory. She often photographed not simply the object but the person who had donated it.”