- Women, Gender, and American History
- Gender Frontiers and Early Encounters
- Manhood and the US Republican Empire
- Women and Conquest in the American West
- Women, Gender, Migration, and Modern US Imperialism
- Women, Unfree Labor, and Slavery in the Atlantic World
- Women, Power, and Families in Early Modern North America
- Women and Slavery in the Nineteenth Century
- Women’s Labors in Industrial and Postindustrial America
- Public and Print Cultures of Sex in the Long Nineteenth Century
- Interracial Sex, Marriage, and the Nation
- Reproduction, Birth Control, and Motherhood in the United States
- Sexual Coercion in America
- Gender, the Body, and Disability
- Transgender Representations, Identities, and Communities
- Women, Trade, and the Roots of Consumer Societies
- Gender and Consumption in the Modern United States
- Women at Play in Popular Culture
- Women, Gender, and Religion in the United States
- Religion, Reform, and Antislavery
- Women’s Rights, Suffrage, and Citizenship, 1789–1920
- Women, Gender, Race, and the Welfare State
- US Feminisms and Their Global Connections
- Sexual Minorities and Sexual Rights
- Women, Gender, and Conservatism in Twentieth-Century America
- Women, War, and Revolution
- Women, the Civil War, and Reconstruction
- Women and World War in Comparative Perspective
- Gender, Civil Rights, and the US Global Cold War
Abstract and Keywords
Feminist struggles for better jobs and rights at work shaped women’s labor history, a project that proclaimed that the history of work and workers was incomplete without understanding the relationship between unpaid domestic labor and employment. Despite the uneven trajectory of women’s labor in a diverse nation, three major themes characterize the history of gender, work, and capitalist development. First, the persistent power of gender on the structure of work meant that employers and policymakers classified women’s labor as unskilled, supplemental, and an extension of women’s “natural” roles as wives and mothers. Second, women’s calls for dignity and improved wages and working conditions included ethnic associations, women’s clubs, and mixed-sex and women-only unions. Third, state policies offered some women protection but made few strides toward equity, which would require acknowledging women’s differential family responsibilities and establishing decent standards for all workers, including those employed in households and in agriculture.
Eileen Boris is the Hull Professor and Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies and Distinguished Professor of history, Black Studies, and Global Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Among her books are Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States (1994) and, with Jennifer Klein, Caring for America: Home Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State (2012). Among her co-edited collections are Voices of Women Historians: The Personal, The Political, The Professional (1999), Intimate Labors: Technologies, Cultures, and the Politics of Care (2010), and Women’s ILO: Transnational Networks, Global Labour Standards, and Gender Equity (2018). Her latest book project is Making the Woman Worker: Precarious Labor and the Fight for Global Standards, 1919–2019. She is the president of the International Federation for Research on Women’s History, 2015–2020.
Lara Vapnek is professor of history at St. John’s University. She is the author of Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865–1920 (2009) and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn: Modern American Revolutionary (2015). Her current research examines the history of infant feeding and public health in New York City from the 1850s through the 1930s.
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