Hist 298 Papers

Primary Source Analysis

Dorgan, Thomas Aloysius. “This is One of a Hundred Murdered.” Cartoon, The New York  Journal, 1911.


This primary source is an editorial cartoon published after the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire based on the illustrations and captions. The factory fire killed over a hundred women working in the factory. This cartoon depicts a woman lying on the ground surrounded by references to the factory fire. Smoldering debris surrounds her, and in the back, there is a trash bin and lit cigarette on the ground representing how the fire was ignited. There is also a sign that reads “Operators Wanted. Inquire Ninth Floor.” The floor that the women mainly worked on was the ninth floor. The cartoon is clearly a portrayal of the fire and calls for action. The political cartoon, titled “This is One of a Hundred Murdered. Is anyone to be punished for this?” shows the death of the fire and demands that responsibility be taken for the victims.

The illustrations in the cartoon are clear references to the Triangle Factory fire. It is unclear when the cartoon was published. It could have been days after the fire, during the investigation and trials, or even long after the fire. You can see the author’s signature in the lower right corner, but they are just initials and does not spell out he whole name. The purpose of the cartoon is to demand justice for the victims of the fire. The author draws the women very pretty as she is laying there face up on the sidewalk. She looks almost peaceful and with a jacket laid across her lower body. The author also implies that the factory does not care about the victims with the sign in the back. Even as the girl is laying there dead, a help wanted sign is already up in the window inferring that the factory had no remorse or care for that girl or the fire. The smoldering debris around the girl even suggests that the fire happened minutes ago and they are already looking for replacements. The powerful words above the cartoon such as “murdered” and “punished” imply that this is a severe tragedy that someone needs to be held responsible.

This editorial cartoon is important because it reveals the emotions of the public at the time. Political cartoons tend to revolve around politics, figures, and current events while influencing public opinions. The Triangle shirtwaist factory fire was an event that the media highly publicized. The cartoon illustrates an opinion and reaction to the fire and attempting the public to demand justice for the victims. This drawing is a form of journalism and reveals that at the time of the fire, there were some that felt compassion for the victims.

Because the primary source is not clear on the date or full name of the artist, one would have to do further research to find those answers. The date is important because it would reveal if this cartoon was published while the investigation was still ongoing or after the trials. The identify of the author would be crucial in order to understand why the author drew the political cartoon. The author might not be a credible or reliable source and can alter the meaning of the cartoon. The drawing does not reveal who the author believes is guilty. Was this long after the trial and wanted to be brought up again or was this published days after the fire.

This is a classic editorial cartoon used to influence the public after the fire by calling for someone to be held responsible for all of the girl murdered in the fire. It clearly states that more than one hundred people were “murdered” and that someone needs to be “punished”. It very clearly refers to the factory fire with the cigarette and mention of the ninth floor. It establishes the fact that the factory does not care about the victims and is already looking for replacement’s as dead girls are still on the ground surrounded by burning debris. The political cartoon was published to influence the public opinion and gain support for the victims.











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