River Grove Public Library District

Radium Girls by Kate Moore

Posted by rivergrovelibrary on

This book is both fascinating and tragic at the same time.  It follows several young women, from the 1920s and beyond, who decided to work at two similar factories.  One was the U.S. Radium Factory in Orange, New Jersey and the other was the Radium Dial Corporation in Ottawa, IL.  At these locations, young women in the prime of their lives painted glow-in-the-dark numbers on watch and clock dials.  These items would be used by both civilians and soldiers in the field.  The luminous substance used by the women to paint the dials contained the chemical element Radium.  A common technique used by the painters involved using their lips to put a fine point on their paintbrushes many times throughout the day.  This technique would end up leading to destructive consequences inside the bodies of these young women.  The factory bosses responded to these health issues with criminal disregard.  This story follows the arduous journeys of the painters and their efforts to get their employers to admit the dangers of radium and offer compensation.
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