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Triangle Fire Open Archive

Cultural Response

Mural, “Pins and Needles”

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Contributed by : Emily Wright

Object # 64


This section of the mural depicts a scene from the ILGWU musical “Pins and Needles,” a celebration of the Union’s influence on workers’ lives. Seeing the mural in person made this scene come alive to me, and gave me an understanding of how much the union improved workers’ lives, and how many opportunities the union provided. The mural’s bright colors reflect the style of other New Deal murals as well as workers’ optimism, even in the midst of the Depression.

Courtesy of : Kheel Center

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In this scene of the mural “History of the Needlecraft Industries” the allegorical figure of Achievement rests his hand over a scene from ILGWU’s Labor Stage production of “Pins and Needles”– a satirical play about labor problems and current political events. The scene, ‘Sunday in the Park,’ depicts the park as a fashionable resort for the working class. The production’s aim, as with many union activities, was to educate members. At its inception, the performers were garment workers who received a leave of absence from their day jobs in order to perform. As the show went on, the cast became more professional and the skits became less about labor, and more about politics. “Pins and Needles” closed in New York on June 2, 1940, after 1,108 performances, a record for musicals in the 1930s.
-Amanda Pietrzykowski and Maggie Schreiner

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