The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
Author Kate Moore, on her book, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women, which uncovers the incredible story of the women who, after being exposed to radium and suffering terrible and deadly illness from radium poisoning, fought for safer work places and workers’ rights.
In the dark years of the First World War, radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright. Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill. And, until they begin to come forward.
As the women start to speak out on the corruption, the factories that once offered golden opportunities ignore all claims of the gruesome side effects. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come. A timely story of corporate greed and the brave figures that stood up to fight for their lives, these women and their voices will shine for years to come.
[Recorded on 16 December 2021.]