vol 08 - 1982

In this issue, Feminist Studies presents a collection of articles that focus our attention on the work lives of women in American history. The past lives of all workers are difficult to trace. Women who have worked outside the home have been particularly invisible in a society that has focused on women's home lives; they have left us even fewer written traces than their fathers, brothers, and husbands. The articles in this issue explore new areas about which little has been known, or they challenge our received wisdom in other areas. Uncovering the history of our involvement in work beyond the daily care of family members—and learning from it—seems particularly important now when a growing majority of us work in the wage labor market and increasingly recognize that our wages and opportunities continue to be limited. Most women continue to work at low wage sexsegregated jobs that are less likely to be unionized than men's. We need a better understanding of how this situation evolved in order to change it. The articles gathered here increase our understanding of some of the crucial factors that have contributed to present conditions: slavery, economic change, social reform, the labor movement, and women's collective actions. An earlier Feminist Studies collection on women and work (vol. 5, no. 2, Summer 1979) focused on reproductive hazards in the workplace, a topic that raises important current policy issues. This collection explores the historical underpinnings for that and other issues concerning women and work that continue to have political importance today.



Jacqueline Jones
"My Mother was Much of a Woman":
Black Women, Work, and the Family Under Slavery

Suzanne Lebsock
Free Black Women and the Question of Matriarchy:
Petersburg, Virginia,1784-1820

Elaine Hedges
The 19th-Century Diarist and Her Quilts

Pat Ferrero, Linda Reuther, Julie Silber
Photos from the Exhibit
"American Quilts: A Handmade Legacy"

Christine Stansell
Women, Children, and the Uses of the Streets:
Class and Gender Conflicts in New York City, 1850-1860

Ruth Milkman
Redefining "Women's Work":
The Sexual Division of Labor
in the Auto Industry During World War II

Nancy Gabin
"They Have Placed a Penalty on Womanhood":
The Protest Actions of Women Auto Workers
in Detroit-area UAW Locals, 1945-1947

Martha May
The Historical Problem of the Family Wage:
The Ford Motor Company and the Five Dollar Day

Alix Kates Shulman
The Boarder

Joan Smith
The Way We Were: Women and Work

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