Painting / mural

Item no. 28118
Occupation: Retail and wholesale - department stores, grocery stores, warehouses
Collection: Other
The artist Elizabeth Sparhawk-Jones painted this in 1912, shortly after the notorious Triangle Fire, and it was reproduced in a poster series from the New York State Department of Labor in the 1980s. The text from the poster is still important:

"Over the years, radically different images have helped to shape America's ever changing view of the world of work. Perhaps nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than in the mixed signals America has sent to working women throughout our history. "Shopgirls," painted in 1912, is representative of the last vestiges of Victorian America. The reality for many working women in the early 20th century was confinement to jobs where they were routinely exploited--especially those who worked in mills and factories up to 70 hours a week for three dollars or less.

"Around the time "Shopgirls" was being painted, 154 workers, mostly young women, died in the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire of 1911 in New York City...

"The history of America's working women is a history of the advocacy of sharing, the right to vote, the right to unionize, the welfare of children and the extension of human rights to all. Despite the obstacles, despite the stereotypes imposed by society, theirs is a revolution still in the making.

Poster published by the New York State Department of Labor in the 1980s, photograph of poster by Teddy Fung.
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Women's History Month 2015