Women at Work, 1860-1939

July 2013
20 black and white, 2 line illustrations
217 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Regions and Regionalism in History
ISBN: 9781843838708
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037060, SOC028000

Women at Work, 1860-1939

How Different Industries Shaped Women's Experiences

Valerie G. Hall

A major contribution to women's history, labour history, and economic and social history.
This book examines three different groups of women - in coal mining communities, in inshore fishing communities and in agricultural labour. It demonstrates how the work these groups undertook was fundamental in shaping their experiences as women in different ways and shows that women's experiences varied within class as well as between classes. The book illustrates how mining women, despite being restricted to domestic roles, created, through meticulous housekeeping, a power base in their homes and rendered their husbands dependent on them, while a minority took so active a role in politics that they were said to be 'the backbone of the Labour Party'; how fisher women, engaging in a household economy reminiscent of pre-modern times, exercised great influence on financial decision making through their roles in baiting lines and selling fish; and how some single female agricultural labourers exercised considerable autonomy whereas those who were tied in a family economy had little independence. Overall, the book makes a very significant contribution to women's history, to labour history and to economic and social history.

"This is a tremendously useful and relevant book for historians of women as well as social and labor historians." - Professor Joan Scott, Institute of Advanced Studies, Princeton University

VALERIE HALL is Professor Emerita of History at William Peace University, North Carolina

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Table of Contents

1860-1914: 'Stay at home and look after your husband'
The Inter-War Years: The Contrasting Roles of Mining Women
A Household Economy in the Modern Era
The Inshore Fishing Community: 'A Race Apart'?
'Muscular Femininity'
'Clever hands' - Household, Demographics and Autonomy
Select Bibliography


It contains important material for the understanding of three key industries in Northumberland and the women who belonged in them. THE LOCAL HISTORIAN

A strong contribution to the historiography of working-class women's work and lives in this period, and will be important reading for scholars and students alike. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW

Hall has undertaken a very difficult task in addressing three very different communities, and the book provides us with an interesting insight into working women's lives because of that approach. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW This is a very thoroughly researched book, very readable, and a valuable contribution to the growing understanding of working-class women's work and lives. The study of men's work has long dominated labour history. Eventually, as the missing pieces of the jigsaw are found, it will be possible to see a complete picture of working-class women's lives, with both the similarities and differences made plain. INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF SOCIAL HISTORY The author has presented a vivid picture of divergence between the experiences of women in the three communities and shows how they challenged the notion of separate spheres in different ways. SOCIAL HISTORY Women emerge from this account as active agents, although their economic, social, and political identities differed across the region. ... [The book is] based upon a wide range of printed and archival evidence, that allows the author to carefully assess the continuities and changes, and the similarities and differences in women's experiences in the north-east. LABOUR HISTORY REVIEW

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