Dear America Wiki
Dear America Wiki

"Sometimes when I look at what I have written in this book, I feel so surprised. Just a few months ago, I was in school. I'd never even heard of a labor union. Now I'm learning about unions, closed shops, open shops, and the rights of workers. I've even spoken in front of rooms full of girls."
Angela Denoto[2]

Hear My Sorrow: The Diary of Angela Denoto, a Shirtwaist Worker is a historical fiction book written by Deborah Hopkinson. It is the thirty-sixth book in Dear America and was the final book until the series was relaunched in 2010. Hear My Sorrow was first published in October 2004 by Scholastic. An eBook edition with a new cover was released in January 2014.

Angela Denoto begins work at a shirtwaist factory and subsequently becomes embroiled in the New York shirtwaist strike of 1909.


"With love and gratitude to Robert Aitken and in memory of Anne Aitken.
Thank you for your dedication to peace and social justice, and for showing the way.

Book description[]

"Tuesday, November 23, 1909
I bent to my work. Everything seemed as usual. But it was not.... I could hardly keep sewing straight seams.
We worked for two hours. There was only the sound of machines and Mr. Klein's voice, urging us to work faster.
Around ten o' clock, Ruth stood up, took a whistle from her pocket, and blew it.
"I now declare a strike in this shop!"
All together we rose up out of our seats. Mr. Klein began to wave his arms and yell, "Girls! Sit down! Sit down!"
No one listened.
Without a word we took our coats and hats. And we walked out.


Fourteen-year-old Angela Denoto, an Italian immigrant living in New York City in 1909, leaves school to start working. Her disappointed teacher gives her a diary and promises to give her another if she fills the first one. Angela's family needs her to contribute, especially after her father is hurt while working. Her sixteen-year-old sister already Luisa works at a shirtwaist factory. Angela's younger siblings are Vito, whom dreams of being a businessman, and Teresa, whom has a bad cough and prefers staying home. Angela goes with Luisa and family friend Rosa Riggio to the factory. A Jewish girl named Sarah Goldstein quickly befriends Angela, though Luisa warns her that she should "Stay away from her."

Angela begins spending more time with Sarah and another girl, Clara Ruben. Sarah talks about unions and worker's rights with Angela, who becomes curious due to the factory's harsh conditions. In November 1909, a general strike for all shirtwaist workers is called for. Angela and workers from all over the city walk out. Sarah encourages Angela to join the Women's Trade Union League, which she does despite Luisa's disapproval. She expects her parents to disapprove too but they instead only advise her to "be careful." Angela begins to visit the union headquarters often, becoming a speaker and interpreter for the Italian girls. When Sarah and Clara start picketing, Angela hesitates before joining them.

As the strike continues, Luisa, Rosa, and Clara obtain new jobs at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and Angela's younger brother quits school to start working as a shoeshine boy. In late December, the union rejects the factories settlement because they refuse to recognize the union in the future. Angela's mother eventually tells her that they "[cannot] wait any longer." Fortunately, Angela returns to her old factory after management settles with the union. The strike slowly comes to close by March 1910. Meanwhile, Angela's beloved younger sister Teresa quickly falls ill and passes away on March 21, leaving the entire family devastated. Her death seems to widen the rift between Angela and Luisa.

The following summer, Audenzio Maniscalco, Rosa's boyfriend and later fiancé, takes part in the cloakmakers' strike. Angela dislikes him for dismissing the shirtwaist workers' strike, but also begrudgingly admires him. The cloakmakers' strike ends and they manage to win union recognition unlike the shirtwaist workers. Life goes on as normal for Angela until March 25, 1911. She and Sarah wait outside the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory when a fire breaks out. They see Rosa jumping to her death. Angela finds Luisa safe, but later learns that Clara died. In the following days, Angela and Luisa finally make up after feeling distant for a long time. Angela later attends a memorial for the unclaimed dead of the fire.


Angela eventually returned to her old school to show her teacher her completed diary. She continued keeping a diary and often donated blank ones to elementary schools During the 1912 Lawrence textile strike, the Denotos took in two Italian children while their parents were on strike. During this time, Audenzio began visiting often. Angela thought he was interested in Luisa, who laughed and pointed out that he actually liked Angela. They married in 1915 when Angela was twenty. They had three children, Teresa, Rosie, and Claire. They all finished high school and Teresa would go on to received a master's in social work. At seventy-three, Angela self-published a memoir with her daughters' help.

Audenzio became a union organizer and his home with Angela turned into a center for labor meetings. Angela lived long enough to witness her granddaughter earn a doctorate in sociology at New York University. Sarah left the factory in 1912 to become an organizer for the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union. She was a "devoted" aunt to her brother's children and remained friends with Angela. Luisa married a grocer and had a two children. After her father's death, her mother came to live with Luisa's family in New Jersey. Vito had a successful restaurant supply business. Rosa's brothers, Alfio and Pietro were his best workers, which made their father Vincenzo and stepmother Maria happy.

Historical Note[]

Many immigrants in New York City found work in the garment industry. Most of these workers were young Jewish and Italian immigrants and, by 1910, seventy perfect of them were women. The working conditions were harsh and the pay was low, leading to the shirtwaist strike of 1909 also called the "Uprising of Twenty Thousand." The strike was lead by the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU). Upper-class women of the Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) helped bring the public's attention to the cause. The strike ended in February 1910. Despite over three hundred shops agreeing to the union's terms, around thirteen larger manufacturers only agreed to compromises.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had kept its doors open throughout the strike and little changed once the strike had ended. On March 25, 1911, a fire started on the eighth floor of the Asch Building, where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory was located. One hundred and forty-six workers lost their lives. The tragedy shocked the public and the state of New York went on to pass several reform laws. On April 5, 1911, despite the rain, over one hundred thousand people attended a memorial march for the seven unidentified victims of the fire. Seven photographs of New York during the era are included. The section concludes with the union song "The Uprising of the Twenty Thousand" and a glossary of Italian words.


Main article: List of Hear My Sorrow characters


Main article: Deborah Hopkinson

Deborah Hopkinson is an American children's author. Her primary subjects are historical fiction and nonfiction. She has authored more than forty books.[3] Hear My Sorrow is Hopkinson's only entry in the Dear America series. In the "About the Author" section, she wrote about the extensive research she conducted for Hear My Sorrow, which included visiting the building where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory had been. Hopkinson also spoke about the need for labor laws to be enforced, referencing the then recent 1991 Imperial Foods processing plant fire.



"Writing Hear My Sorrow has been a deeply rewarding experience. I have learned so much, and wish to thank the many people who helped make this book possible. Throughout this project I was fortunate to meet Amy Griffin, Lisa Sandell, and Beth Levine, three amazing and talented editors. I am especially grateful to Lisa for her encouragement and thoughtfulness, and to Amy for her enthusiasm and unflagging support. Thanks also to Steven Malk, my agent, for setting me on the path that led into this fascinating period of history.
I feel fortunate to have had the advice of two scholars whose writings and research have been extraordinarily helpful. Donna R. Gabaccia, Charles H. Stone Professor of American History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, was thorough and generous in reviewing the manuscript, and her book on social change among Italian immigrants on the Lower East Side was invaluable. Dr. Gabaccia introduced me to Dr. Jennifer Guglielmo, Assistant Professor of History at Smith College, whose research enabled me to better understand Italian labor history during this period, and who also gave generously of her time to read the manuscript and respond to queries. Any errors are my own.
A special thanks goes to author Susan Campbell Bartoletti, whose advice during one long phone call was more helpful than she probably ever imagined, and whose work I deeply admire. I would also like to thank the staff members who assisted me with research at libraries and museums, especially Patrizio Sizione and Barbara Morley at Cornell University's Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, and the library staff of the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Public Library, the Library of Congress, the New-York Historical Society, and New York University.
Mahalo to my dear friend Elisa Johnston, her daughter Kate, and late mother Laurie Johnston, for welcoming me into their family home on Jones Street in Greenwich Village. I will always remember our visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. My husband, Andy Thomas, and my children, Rebekah and Dimitri, who bring me joy every day. I am fortunate to have many people whose friendship and support sustains me day to day. A special thanks to my sisters, Janice Fairbrother and Bonnie Johnson, my friends, especially Michele Hill, Vicki Hemphill, Deborah Wiles, and Jane Kurtz, and all my Whitman College colleagues."


  • The portrait on the cover is a detail of the Paul Hoffman Jr. High School class photo taken by S. Gardner from the Museum of the City of New York. The background is photo licensed from Culver Pictures.[5]


See also[]

Dear America

A Journey to the New World | The Winter of Red Snow | When Will This Cruel War Be Over? | A Picture of Freedom
Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie | So Far from Home | I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly
West to a Land of Plenty | Dreams in the Golden Country | Standing in the Light | Voyage on the Great Titanic
A Line in the Sand | My Heart Is on the Ground | The Great Railroad Race | The Girl Who Chased Away Sorrow
A Light in the Storm | Color Me Dark | A Coal Miner's Bride | My Secret War | One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping
Valley of the Moon | Seeds of Hope | Early Sunday Morning | My Face to the Wind | Christmas After All
A Time for Courage | Where Have All the Flowers Gone? | Mirror, Mirror on the Wall | Survival in the Storm
When Christmas Comes Again | Land of the Buffalo Bones | Love Thy Neighbor | All the Stars in the Sky
Look to the Hills | I Walk in Dread | Hear My Sorrow


The Fences Between Us | Like the Willow Tree | Cannons at Dawn | With the Might of Angels | Behind the Masks
Down the Rabbit Hole | A City Tossed and Broken

External links[]