The Radium Girls

The Radium Girls

The Dark Story of America's Shining Women

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
A full-length account of the struggles of hundreds of women who were exposed to dangerous levels of radium while working factory jobs during World War I describes how they were mislead by their employers and became embroiled in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights.

& Taylor

Recounts the struggles of hundreds of women who were exposed to radium while working factory jobs during World War I, describing how they were mislead by their employers and became embroiled in a battle for workers' rights.

Sourcebooks Inc.

A New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Charts Bestseller!

"the glowing ghosts of the radium girls haunt us still."—NPR Books

For fans of Hidden Figures, comes the incredible true story of the women heroes who were exposed to radium in factories across the U.S. in the early 20th century, and their brave and groundbreaking battle to strengthen workers' rights, even as the fatal poison claimed their own lives...

The Curies' newly discovered element of 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 in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

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.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. 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.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the "wonder" substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives...

Publisher: Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781492649359
Branch Call Number: 363.17990820973 Moo
Characteristics: xvi, 479 pages : illustrations


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Feb 22, 2021

Many girls are named so I got lost in trying to follow all of them. Realize this is just a small percentage of those who lives were impacted by companies' careless choices. This book details out the process these young women were told in how to use Radium and then the court process and the impact it had on the origins OSHA.

Jan 28, 2021

cancelled hold

Oct 24, 2020

Modern Mrs Darcy

Oct 22, 2020

Fantastic book! Everyone should read this so we don't forget what these ladies went through.

Oct 03, 2020

When the Curies successfully isolated the radioactive radium in 1902, private firms raced to occupy the market of luminescent watches. At the time, radium was not only thought to be safe, but also beneficial upon contact and even consumption. So when factories girls who were paid to paint watch faces put radium-dipped paintbrushes into their mouths, few expected the dire consequences that would later manifest in their bodies. ⁣⁣
Except the companies themselves. But valuing profit over everything else, they created an illusion of healthfulness and gaslit the girls into silence, even when they began to suffer from tooth loss, non-healing wounds, miscarriages, bone fractures, cancer, and death itself. ⁣⁣
As their employees suffered, these companies denied all knowledge and responsibility of their wrongdoings. Their lawyers refused to compensate for the lives lost. Their witnesses lied in court. The companies whose products illuminated the night had become night itself, and it was only after more than a decade of lawsuit that the women finally won their justice. ⁣⁣
This book really reminds me of Bad Blood, which made my top 10 list in 2019. Despite the amount of information and the number of people involved in the case, Kate Moore is able to bring to life each woman’s pain and strength. Moore also writes with incredible style, with breath-gripping developments every other page and foreboding cliffhangers at the end of each chapter.⁣⁣
The Radium Girls are remembered today for their pursuit of justice and the consequent implementation of labor protection laws, but beneath their almost martyr-like demeanors were just ordinary human beings. Human beings who wanted to help others, human beings who wanted to live to see their grandchildren, and human beings who rebelled against the way capitalism had trampled over their crippled bodies.

For more book reviews, visit me on Instagram @ RandomStuffIRead

Jun 14, 2020

This is a topic that I've been interested in learning more about for a while, so I was eager to read this book. I was surprised that I found myself able to stick with it due to the length and heft of the topic, but I found myself hooked on the story. That said, there are some slow and redundant parts in the middle that nearly spoiled it. I was glad I powered through them because the latter part of the book when it starts discussing the legal fallout of the issue was the most interesting part. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew the girls. Side note- Don't skip the Epilogue and Author's Note at the end. They are very informative as well.

May 02, 2020

I feel this story would be more impactfal if it were told in half the length of it's current presentation. There are redundant details of each girl repeated throughout the book just to keep the reader's interest which I found boring and unnecessary.

Available as a ebook or eaudio, although I found the audiobook narrator wasn't the best. This book is a very eye-opening and important read, especially at a time when consumers and workers need to watch the behavior and interests of companies, investors, and government leaders so carefully. I chose this from a science reading list but the takeaways for me focused on the girls themselves, their desire to do well for their families, and their fight for equality and justice in the workplace.

Apr 14, 2020

this was a very eye opening story about what a company will do to profit, regardless of the lives at stake. However despite all the sad truths within this story about the many women and families affected, I found it very sweet in some parts. The little bit of regular life we get to glims of each girl reminds me of the kindness and curiousity that many young girls posses. I did really enjoy the author stressing how little each of the workers knew about what was happening and how much the co operations and companies hid from them all during this very dark time in our history.

Jan 27, 2020

THE RADIUM GIRLS is a 20th-century female version of the classic David vs. Goliath parable. It’s the inspiring, true story of ordinary women who fought for their rights against the powerful radium industry, while they also battled the devastating effects of radium poisoning. Several of the passages and photos depicting the illnesses and injuries suffered by the victims may be particularly difficult for sensitive readers. Although author Kate Moore’s writing sometimes seemed dry and repetitive, ultimately, the book is a thought-provoking testament to the women’s courage and perseverance. THE RADIUM GIRLS is also a cautionary reminder of what can happen when a business, because of greed and corruption, values corporate profits over the safety and well-being of its workers. For me, this makes the book all the more relevant and troubling for today’s world, given our government’s current policies of deregulation and weakening of industry and environmental standards. May this history never repeat itself.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Jan 29, 2019

pink_dolphin_3025 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 7 and 40

Jun 17, 2017

Tjad2LT thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


Add a Quote
Jan 27, 2020

“Lip… Dip… Paint.” - p. 18


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at IPL

To Top