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Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935
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Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  162 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
In the early twentieth century, a group of women workers hired to apply luminous paint to watch faces and instrument dials found themselves among the first victims of radium poisoning. Claudia Clark's book tells the compelling story of these women, who at first had no idea that the tedious task of dialpainting was any different from the other factory jobs available to them ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 31st 1997 by University of North Carolina Press
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Nancy Oakes
4.5 rounded up. In my opinion, this book runs rings around Moore's Radium Girls, which was okay and did the job the author meant it to do. But after that one, I wanted to read an historical account of this story. Where Moore's account is more firmly focused on providing the human face of this tragedy, here we get down to the forces that allowed it to happen in the first place and the attempts made toward reform so that it could never happen again.

The women's fight to gain recognition for illness
Katie Boggs
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I couldn't put it down, yet found my skin crawling from both the inhumanity of the corporate world in its treatment of its workers as well as from the horrific injuries and illnesses described. I looked up images of the women; their faces haunted me. The Afterward was chilling as I realized that, although the book begins at the turn of the century, some of the companies involved were still both handling and denying residual radium into the 1990s. It also left me wondering...poisons that affected ...more
Rita Bresnan
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a hard one to read because of the horror these women went through. The postscript was so shocking that I had to read it twice. God bless these wonderful women.
May 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent research on amazing event in history.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finally bought a copy of this book after failing to get it at the library. It is an amazing story and generally is well-written, but sinks to a preachy tone in a few places. Having worked with radioactive materials for much of my career, this story left me aghast, although the ability of the company owners to weasel out of accountability does not.
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a tragic story of these young women’s senseless death. But the change that they brought to our country was immense. The book was long and drug in some areas but is a story that needed to be told.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Significant story that should be much more well known! This isn't just a story about a few young women, but of an entire case which changed the way we see and deal with company safety procedures. It led to safety precautions during the Manhattan project and even today.
Nov 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Such a sad story of corporate greed. I felt drawn to this book and all the horrific things that happened to these girls. I feel sick on what they had to endure.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Ponderous. A slog.
Nancy Bellwood
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Could not put this book down.
Jeff Wright
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sad to think about how business is more than people's health to some. These women fought to make life better for all of us.
I truly enjoyed this historical work - the research is incredible. This book not only tells the story of the first documented workers of radium poisoning and their struggle to be diagnosed, recognized and compensated, but of the political, industrial and social landscape of that time that so often (though not always) prevented the workers from being treated properly in the first place.

At first I was disappointed there wasn't more on the actual workers' lives but little is known about many of th
Oct 09, 2010 rated it liked it
I picked up Radium Girls in perhaps a strange way: I'm working on a short story that uses their plight as a backdrop. The book was useful for the variety of historical information that it provided, and Clark's approachable tone turned what might otherwise be a fairly dry topic (in particular, the long stretches dedicated to the legality surrounding industrial health reform), into an enticing, morally complex, and important narrative.

It's a story, of course, with which people ought to be more fam
Frank Stein
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was ok
Overall a pretty disappointing read. Dealing as it does with the famous "Radium Girls," the New Jersey workers who got sick from painting glowing radium watch dials in the 1920s, and whose study led to the first confirmed cases of radiation sicknesses, this story potentially brims with human and social interest. Throw in Alice Hamilton, the industrial health wunderkind who was the first woman ever appointed to the Harvard faculty and who worked to prove that the U.S. Radium Corporation was at fa ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book started out to be the author's disseration, and it sure reads like one. She almost lost me right away by starting out with a lot of tedious stuff about the various committees, government agencies and special-interest groups involved in deciding where the radium dial painters' cases against their employers would lead in the future -- none of it handled lightly or grippingly, I'm afraid. A deeper search into the text brought me some of what I was looking for -- what the factory workers a ...more
Megan Palasik
Jan 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I read this as part of an armchair chemistry class. I loved it and found it interesting all the things the girls did with the radium before we knew the side effects as well as what happened to them afterwards. I'm writing this review almost 4 years after the fact, so I don't have many details to review.
Mar 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Though dry in parts, this is a great book! Lots of information. Part I liked:
"Workers reported that their calluses would glow in the dark from deposited radium and that, for fun, they would paint their nails with the luminous paint. 'We slapped radium around like cake frosting,' remembered one employee." (pg. 197)

Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
I was fascinated by this book and the story of these women... and of the social and industrial health reform movements spawned by their plight. Well-written and well-documented.
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about American industrial radiation protection health reform. Extensive history of the radium dial painters and their deaths.
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