Episode 99: Smollop: Radium Girls

I may earn money from the participating companies linked in this post: Bookshop.org (supporting my nearby independent bookstore Bluebird & Co, in Crozet, VA) and/or Audible. My podcast is sponsored by Audible and Care/Of.

No, no, no, Dave, you can’t unhear that!
–Gareth, making the odontophobic alarm call

Before I get silly, I need to say this: over two thousand women died, and died horribly, because tycoons lied. They died slowly, piecemeal, falling apart like Brundlefly, because tycoons will always be tycoons, and bigwig tycoons think “the little people” are interchangeable and replaceable, and everything is copacetic if you hurl enough money at it.

The five Radium Girls that had the nerves of steel to sue the Radium Corporation, before anyone ever thought to sue their bosses for jobsite injuries, and therefore embodied the American spirit:

  1. Grace Fryer
  2. Edna Hussmann
  3. Katherine Schaub
  4. Quinta McDonald
  5. Albina Larice (Quinta’s sister)

They deserve top billing, and they deserve to be remembered by name. Thanks to their pain and fortitude, we have the right to hold our employers accountable, we have OSHA, and we have workmen’s compensation.

That being said…

Healthy glow, to distract the boys from your lack of chin.
Healthy glow, to distract the boys from your lack of chin.

So many bookses, yes, Precioussssessss.


Undark * Jenna Hammerich (Kindle Single, so short and sweet, good place to start)

Radium Girls * D. W. Gregory

Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935 * Claudia Clark

Radium Halos: A novel about the Radium Dial Painters * Shelley Stout

Romancing the Atom: Nuclear Infatuation from the Radium Girls to Fukushima * Robert Johnson

Deadly Glow: The Radium Dial Worker Tragedy * Ross Mullner

Also included in:

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer * Siddhartha Mukherjee

and a book I have recommended before, and highly recommend again:

The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York * Deborah Blum

but wait, there’s more!

The Emperor of All Maladies has been made into a documentary series by Ken Burns.

So warm in my tummy. Why is it so warm?
So warm in my tummy. Why is it so warm?

And yes, radium butter was a thing. Want some gleaming, glowing toast, motherfucker?




Also, new Special Dollopish Tag: overfucking. Thanks, guys, thank you. Grateful tear.

Remember David Hahn‘s fascination with clocks in antique stores? The Radium Girls are the ones who would leave a small pot of luminescent paint inside the clock in case the owner needed to touch up the dial. Yeah. The Radium Girls’ evil corporate bosses’ actions led to the glowing potting shed. Plus, Edison was looming over William Joseph Hammer‘s shoulder the whole time, thinking I can claim this invention as my own, too, yes I can…

See, it is all connected. I told you so. I. Told. You. So.

(i knew if i stopped taking my medication i could see it all and i can ican icanican)





Bands from this episode:

  • Radium Butter
  • Radium Hand
  • Weakjaw

Cultural references from this episode:

Radium was such a fad that there was a musical. A friggin musical.
Glow in the dark Blue Man Group.
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