Radium Girls Statue-Ottawa

The Radium Girls were female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning from painting watch and clock dials with glow in the dark paint. 

The women's jobs were to apply glow-in-the-dark paint to watch and clock hands. They were instructed to roll the brushes on their tongue to make a fine point for precise painting. It was an practice that poisoned, sickened and eventually killed many of them.

On the corner of Clinton and Jefferson streets in Ottawa, Illinois, is the former site of the Luminous Processes factory. 

Today, in the center of a small garden, stands a statue of a young woman holding a tulip in one hand and paintbrushes in the other.

She is the symbol of the Radium Girls, the young women who worked in the clock and watch factories from 1918 through the the end of WWII.

The statue marks a dark place in our history and commemorates the struggle of these women.  A plaque next to the statue tells the story of the women who died, the legal battles for restitution and the company who knew they were in danger but looked the other way.  

Laws for workers rights and safety were enacted due to the deaths and illnesses of the Radium Girls. 

The statue was installed and dedicated on Labor Day 2011.


  1. Dear kelly,

    I would like permission to use one of your pictures of the Radium Girl statue for an article written by Sue Straus, that we will be printing in News & Letters. Sue was at the dedication and wrote up an article for us. We can't pay you as we are an all volunteer organization, but we would of course credit the picture to you. Please let me know as soon as you can as we go to press soon. You can email me at terrymoon@gmail.com

    Thank you for your consideration.

    Terry Moon,
    Managing Editor, News & Letters

  2. This kind of statue reminds me of the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street by Vibal.


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