We Shall Not Be Moved: The Women’s Factory Strike of 1909

Written By: Joan Dash
Published By: Bt Bound
October 1999
Suggested Readers: Ages 9-12

We Shall Not Be MovedJoan Dash’s We Shall Not Be Moved takes an in-depth look at the lives of women factory workers in 1909. The story is not told from the perspective of one worker, but is rather a compilation of numerous experiences of the young women, mostly between the ages of 16 and 18 who led the “largest strike of women workers ever known in the United States.” Fascinating details of factory conditions emerge. Talking, joking, laughing and singing were all forbidden while working. Bosses placed Italians next to Jews on the line so that they would not be able to communicate with each other and “waste” valuable working time. The shirtwaist industry generated 50 million dollars a year but its workers lived near poverty.

In protest of these conditions, workers found their united voice and banded together, gaining support from suffragists and women of the upper class in a 13-week strike that began in New York and spread to factories in Philadelphia. Picketers were often beaten and jailed, but were not deterred from their goals. Women of all classes came together to fight and “demonstrated, possibly for the first time, the power of sisterhood.” Young readers who are frustrated with the state of the world will draw inspiration from this moving and well-documented historical tale. Black-and-white photographs offer a closer look at the era and make real the struggle of these courageous young women.

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