American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

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An Elegy for Fire Victims

Die Fire Korbunes
David Meyrowitz (1867-1943), composer
Louis Gilrod (1879-1930), lyricist
"Die Fire Korbunes."
New York: Theodore Lohr Co., 1911
Printed sheet music
Music Division
Copyright deposit (52B.8)

Yiddish American popular song was rooted in Eastern European Jewish minstrelsy, which had long addressed current social, economic, and political themes. However, commercial Yiddish popular sheet music, characterized by ornate and exotic cover designs, was a uniquely American phenomenon. "Die Fire Korbunes" ("The Fire Victims") is an elegy to the 146 victims, mostly young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, who perished in the March 25, 1911, fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory, a New York City garment sweatshop. Public sympathy and outrage over the tragedy led to the establishment of a Factory Investigating Commission, instrumental in drafting new legislation that mandated improved working conditions.

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