American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl: Immigrant Women in the Turn-of-the-Century City

An unexpected friendship between two Italian and Jewish immigrant girls provides the backdrop for this story of labor organizing and women’s growing activism. While working in harsh sweatshops and factories, the young women also experienced the thrills of movies, amusement parks and dance halls. As their numbers in the workforce grew and working conditions declined they took matters into their own hands. In 1909, garment workers staged the “Uprising of the 20,000,” a massive strike that won union recognition and transformed the role of women in the union movement. (Length: 30 minutes)

Heaven… is a strikingly vivid slice of labor history, in which the working girls come to life as fully realized three-dimensional human beings.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of This Land Is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation (2008)

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