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The Radium Girls: The Dark History of America’s Shining Women

Key insights from Kate Moore's

The Radium Girls: The Dark History of America’s Shining Women


Key insights from Kate Moore's

The Radium Girls: The Dark History of America’s Shining Women

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9 minutes

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How a generation of working women fought for justice.

At the beginning of the 20th century, working-class women joined the glamorous radium-dial industry, eager to make the best wages of the day. But when these women began to experience mysterious illnesses and painful deaths, they never guessed that their dazzling new profession might be to blame. In this Snapshot, you’ll learn how the leaders of the industry misled its most vulnerable employees and knowingly put them at risk.

Read this Snapshot if you:

  • Are interested in American labor history
  • Have curiosities about the legacies of female employment and female advocacy
  • Care about the marginalized narratives of working women
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Introduction

As early as 1901, Marie and Pierre Curie, along with their collaborators and fellow scientists, understood the miraculous and devastating effects of radium. This was the beginning of radium’s financial heyday.

Though radium was branded as a marvel of modern medicine and inspired new products, the manufacturers who understood radium’s dangerous effects failed to warn the employees who were most vulnerable to its risks. In the following decades, dozens of women died as a result of radium exposure, and hundreds more endured devastating health problems such as cancer, tooth loss,...

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