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Grover Shoe Factory Disaster: Topics in Chronicling America

On March 20, 1905, a boiler explodes in the Grover Shoe Factory, killing at least 35 people. This guide provides access to materials related to the "Grover Shoe Factory Disaster” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Boiler bursts; factory falls; fifty victims." March 20, 1905. The Washington Times (Washington, DC), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“In an hour the four story factory was a blazing ruin. The adjoining business block building and seven houses were destroyed. The cries of persons pinned under the timbers in the ruins were heard nearly half a mile,” read The Paducah Sun on March 20, 1905. The Grover Shoe Factory’s boiler explosion was just one example in a long list of industrial malpractices as a product of the Industrial Revolution. Coupled with another factory boiler explosion in 1906, the Grover disaster brought about intense pressure for improved industrial safety. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

March 20, 1905
7:50 AM
The boiler explodes, immediately sparking fires in the building and causing partial collapse of the roof. Within the hour, the building collapses in on itself.
March 20, 1905
10:30 AM
The fire begins to die out and is under control by 11:00 AM.
March 20, 1905
12:00 PM
Body recovery begins.
March 20, 1905
3:00 PM
About 35 bodies are recovered.
March 22, 1905 Funeral is held to honor the dead factory workers.