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Eileen Boris and S. J. Kleinberg, “Mothers and Other Workers: (Re)Conceiving Labor, Maternalism, and the State”

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Mothers and Other Workers: (Re)Conceiving Labor, Maternalism, and the State”

Eileen Boris and S. J. Kleinberg

Journal of Women’s History, 15:3 (Autumn, 2003), 90-117. [PDF]

This article interrogates the gendering of labor and welfare history as part of an examination into the meaning of work, its connection to social welfare policy, and definitions of what constitutes a “real” family in the United States. It examines the gendering of labor based upon the largely male model of waged labor and the exclusion of women of color from the early phases of women’s labor history. By integrating caregiving and domestic production into analyses of work and welfare, it analyzes how the troika of class, race, and gender (especially as complicated by marriage and motherhood) have become central issues in the history of labor. It explores the racialized and gendered construction of labor and welfare legislation and the redefinition of women’s “rights” in contemporary America as participation in the waged workforce, not the right to choose how to combine motherwork and economic survival.

The current crisis of welfare states under transnational capitalism, as well as challenges to feminist thought internally by both poststructuralism and racial/ethnic/postcolonial diversity and externally by traditionalist backlash, mark the beginning of the new century as an appropriate time to cast a critical eye on our own enterprise. This article interrogates the gendering of labor and welfare history as part of an examination into the meaning of work, its connection to social welfare policy, and definitions of what constitutes a “real” family in the United States. In our scholarship on women, family, work, and welfare policy, we have investigated how work and families are defined and how those definitions are gendered and racialized. Here, we explore the historiography of women’s labors, unwaged care work as well as wage-based employment, in order to understand better the public and private consequences of those constructions. We first address the omission of women from labor history, based upon a gendered definition of work, and then consider their inclusion in social welfare history based upon conceptions of maternity as love rather than labor.

We begin with a self-critical premise: the need to examine ourselves as writers of history even as we question past policymakers, women and men social reformers, and trade unionists who organized, lobbied, legislated, and implemented law and state rulemaking. White women activists and state builders, as well as male and female labor leaders, influenced what have come to be standard historiographical interpretations in two ways: first, through the sources that they generated, and second, through the reaction (both positive and negative) of women historians to these individuals in light of subsequent developments and our own politics. Certainly the false dichotomy of equality vs. difference is the conundrum that has obsessed feminists for the last twenty years and has profoundly shaped evaluations. Divisions among African American, ethnic, social policy, labor, and women’s history further constituted another factor shaping interpretation. So did the development within women’s history of the maternalist paradigm as both description and explanation. Scholars focused more on motherhood than mothers, caregiving than wage earning, child welfare than exploitation, at best ignoring the motherhood of the non-white and at worst accepting the devaluation of their motherwork so apparent in official sources. We need to ask, which women have served as the subjects and objects of investigation? What has counted as work? And why focus on some social policies and employment settings rather than others? That is, what are the intellectual, political, and historiographical reasons for concentration on one set of issues and one group of people rather than others? Here we begin to address these questions through a critical exegesis of key topics within women’s history.

Concepts of “work” and “family” remain as fraught in scholarship as they are in social politics. Alice Kessler-Harris has unpacked these concepts most skillfully in her recent discussion of the gendered markings of economic citizenship. She investigates the relationship between economic equity, women’s status within the family, and the development of social welfare policy in the twentieth century. The federal government based its model of stability on a particular (and majoritarian) version of the familywork nexus, yet, as we know, families come in many forms, just as work has many locations.1 The dominant paradigm of economic citizenship, a wage-earning father with financially dependent mother and children, excludes same-sex couples and, arguably, single-parent families. This heterosexual bias infiltrated policy constructions of the family, normalizing two-parent households in which men had a wage, women labored inside the home as emotional and care workers, and children remained outside the labor force until they had received a suitable education, so that even historians critical of the family wage have operated within this framework.

The definitional exclusion of unremunerated caregivers from the ranks of “workers” has had grave consequences. Despite social reformers’ emphasis on the importance of motherhood, being a mother did not confer full social rights. The mutual exclusion of employment and motherhood lessened women’s economic citizenship, including the right to earn, upon which access to such benefits as unemployment insurance and old age pensions depended. Neither did the right to equal pay, fair employment, or other workplace goods apply. Single mothers (whether widowed, divorced, or never married) particularly were disbarred from key aspects of such economic citizenship. When it comes to benefits, even to this day, few states in the United States accord same-sex or unmarried partners the same prerogatives as those in heteronormative families, whose social entitlements derive from the male-breadwinner model.

Finding the Women: Defining Women’s Work in Labor History 3

The implicit definition of what constituted work as jobs undertaken for cash led early analysts of labor, such as the field’s originator John R. Commons,4 to ignore caregiving and domestic production as part of the economy. The gendering of labor based upon the largely male model of waged labor meant that such analysts neglected the household economy and privileged one set of endeavors over others.5 Mainstream academic inquiries simply ignored much of women’s labor on the basis that domestic production, unremunerated care work, and housewifery were not “work” while production in factories and services for hire were. When decoded, then, “work” becomes a linguistic encapsulation of race, mode of production, class, age, and gender.6

Although even with the new labor history, the study of labor and working class consciousness has at times been limited to the examination of skilled workers, trade unions, and strikes,7 it was not always so. A small group of Progressive researchers on women’s relation to production, including Edith Abbott, Annie MacLean, Lucy Salmon, and Rolla Milton Tyron, pursued neglected avenues of inquiry.8 While Commons and his colleagues concentrated on the male industrial labor force, this quartet wrote specifically about women in the labor force and sometimes about women who worked in the home. Tyron’s inquiry into household manufactures located industrialization as beginning in the home and based upon women’s labors. MacLean traced the development of the textile industry in New England, focusing on women’s contributions, and then moved on to New York, Chicago, New Jersey, and Western cities. She also examined rural women’s employment in chapters on hop picking in Oregon and the fruit industries of California although she ignored women’s work in the South and thus neglected the labors of African American women in the cotton fields.

Both Tyron and MacLean considered the economic dimensions of women’s work in the home. MacLean wrote briefly about the women of the Pennsylvania coal fields, who married young and were “in the main given over to the arduous duties of housekeeping and taking boarders, besides trying to care for numerous small children.” There were few factories in the bituminous district, although the anthracite fields supported silk and knitting mills and shirt factories that mostly employed young women. So women combined family care and income production, monetizing housework by taking in boarders.9 MacLean recognized early that family and economic structures needed to be taken into account when analyzing women’s economic contributions.

Edith Abbott limited consideration of “early women agriculturalists” to New England in a survey of women’s employments that concentrated on the establishment of the factory system-textile mills, cigar making, shoemaking, the clothing industry, and printing. For Abbott, work occurred in factories or quasi-industrial workshops; like MacLean, she deplored industrial homework and tenement manufacturing. Of these early interpreters, only Lucy Salmon devoted any significant amount of attention to the most common female employment, domestic service. Writing from the employers’ perspective, Salmon dealt in ethnic stereotypes and, like Abbott, focused on New England. Given the predominance of African Americans in the occupation, Salmon surprisingly glossed over considerations of race.

Indeed, these early writers on women’s labors virtually ignored women of color. MacLean included census tables showing that African American women contributed nearly one-quarter of the female labor force at the turn of the century, were over one-half of all women agricultural workers, and one-third of domestic servants, but made little reference to their experiences. She fleetingly mentioned Mexican women in connection with the fruit industries of California, and observed that Russians were the “only white people who will pick grapes, the other pickers being Japanese, Chinese, and Indians.”10 Such remarks aside, these pioneering historians of women’s labors established a trend that distorted the history of women’s work for decades. Tyron alone considered slave labor’s role in industrialization and that only in passing. Women’s work in the home and the field, whether for love or money, received negligible attention from male labor researchers, and the first female analysts presumed women workers to be white and mostly urban.

Between the Progressive Era and the 1970s, few historians focused on women workers inside or outside the home, in factories, or in fields. Several investigations of the textile industry from the 1930s scrutinized female employment as part of their analysis of industrial growth in New England, regarding women as unskilled and transient workers.11 Other studies, most notably Julia Cherry Spruill’s Women’s Life and Work in the Southern Colonies (1938), concentrated on elite plantation ladies and townswomen rather than small farmers or agricultural laborers, mentioning African Americans only in connection with their service to whites. Her restricted vision of women’s history promulgated an approach to the past that privileged genteel white women even as it expanded historical coverage by discussing housewifery and family life.12

Eleanor Flexner briefly included slave women’s labors in A Century of Struggle (1959), observing that African American women encountered “a double measure of discrimination.”13 Although essentially writing a history of the woman’s rights movement, Flexner noted that “the concept of the inferiority of women barred them from training for more skilled work, and therefore from entering other occupations; it also prevented their receiving the same pay as a man for similar work.”14 Framing discussion in terms of institutional labor history, she explored women’s strikes in the textile industry, the activities of the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association, and women’s participation in the National Labor Union, the Knights of Labor, the early American Federation of Labor, and the Women’s Trade Union League. Robert W. Smuts’s Women and Work in America (1959) was one of the very few overviews of female employment written between the Progressive Era and the second wave of the feminist movement and, even in this small sample, atypically explored farms and kitchens as sites of employment and not merely factories.15

These initial investigations accepted women’s place in the world as it was, without much questioning of the gender conventions that thrust women into their socially mandated roles and excluded caregiving (and to a lesser extent, domestic production) from the world of work. They encouraged a documentation of women’s experience, typically in the industrial setting, and had relatively little impact on labor history as it plowed along the same institutional furrow pioneered by Commons and his associates. Not surprisingly, articles in the early issues of the eponymous journal Labor History adhered to an institutional approach and defined work as remunerated employment.16

The journal’s authors did not completely ignore women, but few sought to analyze their experience of strikes, especially not in coal, steel, rail, and other industries where occupational segregation by racialized gender ruled. There were accounts of the sit-downs, biographies of labor leaders and even occasional analyses of the relationship between the labor movement and (male) African Americans, immigrants and religious denominations, but little or nothing on women. These essays assumed the labor movement was white and male and that people of color mostly stood outside it.17 Even where women had a central place in the text, as in the account of how the labor union song “The Death of Mother Jones,” became a folk song, there was scant investigation of women’s labor activism. Instead, Mother Jones stood valorized as a resourceful woman who carried a pistol under a gingham apron and confronted the bosses. She served to remind the readers of the workers’ “heroic past” rather than how women had mostly disappeared from the story.18 Mary Harris Jones merited a mention by name, but women were more frequently depicted as obstacles among rather than part of the working class.19

In “Adolph Strasser and the Origins of Pure and Simple Unionism,” Howard M. Gitelman described how “skilled” workers initiated a union label campaign to oppose the large numbers of recent immigrants, “men, women, and children-put to work manufacturing cigars in the 1870s.”20 Interrogation of “skilled” as a term that encoded gender, especially masculinity, had to wait for a gendered labor history to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s. As long as labor historians believed that “the manager’s brains were under the workman’s cap,” women waited on the sidelines, tending machines perhaps, but peripheral to the struggle or, worse still, one cause of skilled workers’ problems.21

In contrast, later studies of cigar workers placed gender at the center of their analysis wherein “‘manhood’ offered legitimacy for men to challenge managerial authority, [but] cultural constructions of womanhood might work to undermine women’s claims for justice.”22 Even so, women deployed these cultural constructions both to engender autonomy and to build solidarity. In these views, women had as legitimate a place in the cigar industry as the men who so mightily resented their presence. Studies of unionism that accepted arguments by Strasser, Gompers, and other leaders about the nature of unions and who were appropriate members ultimately accepted the notion that men were the real workers and women had no legitimate claim to employment.23

In the 1970s, labor historians began paying attention to women, but they were not yet central to the story and work remained synonymous with waged employment. Articles on the agitation against child labor acknowledged that girl as well as boy children worked and indicated awareness of the racial subtexts in labor’s battle to ban young workers. Historians still ignored women’s important efforts to bring about this legislation and the ways in which the construction of “work” as paid wage labor ignored many of women’s productive activities.24 Essays on diverse topics had gender issues at their center but paid little or no attention to women. The struggles of telephone workers for representation, social workers’ rankand file movement, and the battle for Social Security all had significant, but neglected, gender components.25

Nevertheless, the 1970s were a transitional decade in the writing of labor history, with a burgeoning interest in women in the labor force, trade unions, and the home as workplace, even though most topics in labor history stubbornly privileged the male without recognizing this emphasis. The historiography continued to segregate women as a group and view them through their family status rather than incorporating them in all aspects of the discipline. Additionally, to most authors, “woman” remained essentially synonymous with the white working class, even though race and ethnicity were acknowledged issues among historians of male workers. 26

Labor historians had for decades ignored female work culture and its role in labor activism. Two considerations of women in the textile industry helped reshape the terms of the debate, demonstrating that women’s work and family experiences were important components of working-class formation. Thomas Dublin’s examination of women, work, and protest in the Lowell mills rooted activism in the female boardinghouse community and the close interaction between green hands and experienced workers. Tamara Hareven’s depiction of French-Canadian women’s manipulation of the industrial system to meet their own needs showed that women were an integral part of family economic strategies and not merely a reserve army of labor. Dublin focused on work culture, while Hareven placed women’s employment in its familial context; both made women active agents in their own work lives.27

Alice Kessler-Harris and Barbara Klaczynska also explored the ethnic and family dynamics of women’s work, chronicling the female presence in the labor force and in trade unions and questioning how women interpreted their roles. Kessler-Harris interrogated the ways in which class, ethnicity, and gender constructions shaped women’s participation in the garment industry and in working- and middle-class organized trade unions, while Klaczynska examined the employment strategies of black and white ethnic women in a variety of occupations, including domestic service.28 Other articles, including Elizabeth Pleck’s “A Mother’s Wages:
Income Earning Among Married Italian and Black Women, 1896-1911,” specifically took issue with the image of employment as confined to young women and contrasted recent immigrants with African American migrants to Northern cities, investigating the roles of culture and economic need in prompting some but not all women into the labor force.29

With the exception of taking in boarders, these articles accepted the standard definition of work as being in the paid labor force. S. J. Kleinberg, in “Technology and Women’s Work: The Lives of Working Class Women in Pittsburgh, 1870-1900,” reconfigured work as all endeavors that helped the family maintain itself. Working-class domesticity did not permit women to withdraw from society as the separate spheres paradigm posited. As with Jeanne Boydston’s later examination of the ideology of labor in the Early Republic, such analyses showed that working-class women were neither isolated in the home nor were they unproductive, regardless of their employment status. Politics impinged upon their lives in the home through the distribution of municipal technology and the ability to afford the domestic technology that sewers, gas, electricity, and paved roads made possible. Rather than comparing women’s work to men’s, such articles and books promulgated a view of labor and working-class history in which housewifery was just as important as working on the line.30 In Ardis Cameron’s reinterpretation of the 1912 Lawrence strike, housewives fanned militancy-“the interconnectedness of women’s lives, as caretakers of home and family and as essential breadgivers, expanded the issues of wage reductions to include a critique of the ‘powers that prey.'”31 In this form of women’s history, “female” activities had a centrality and a significance of their own regardless of their location.32 Such studies recognized as work undertakings that most men (and traditional labor historians) seemingly considered unimportant, such as housework and household production, and thus reconfigured their centrality for the working class.33

As practitioners of women’s labor history and gender history battled over how best to write the history of working-class women, a number of labor historians continued to write labor history without much reference to either women or matters of gender. Books, such as Ira Katznelson and Aristide Zolberg’s Working-Class Formations, ignored the issue of gender, although some of the authors in the collection discussed women workers. 34 Sean Wilentz’s Chants Democratic offered, in Linda Kerber’s analysis, “an oddly traditional version of working-class history through the eyes of the male workers in the old ‘honorable trades.'”35 Richard Oestreicher argued that labor history and gender history were different tribes, in effect excluding women from the mainstream of working-class history.36

As Geoff Ely and Keith Nield observed, “class is gendered male where workers are exercising agency and female where class signifies privilege, parasitism, and moneyed power.”37 In “Tied to the Whipping Post,” William R. Sutton explored the gender stereotypes of labor historians, who stigmatized women as a means of exploring male artisan culture.38 David Montgomery’s essay, “To Study the People: The American Working Class” held that work, culture, and the working-class presence were crucial to understanding American social and political development during the last 150 years. While noting that women’s working patterns cannot be explained through reference to working-class values, he neglected the female subculture and intersections between race, ethnicity, religion, region, and gender, which led to distinctive female participation.39 This approach led Joan Scott to note that, by the late 1980s, labor historians treated gender as important, even if they did not have time to study it.40

Some studies powerfully thrust women back into heart of working class issues, most notably Nancy Gabin’s exposition of women’s work in the auto industry in which she traced their efforts to obtain justice in hiring and firing both from employers and from their male trade union colleagues. In her article and subsequent book, Gabin simultaneously chronicled black and white women’s work in the auto industry and got to the heart of the matter through her examination of the ways in which auto workers constructed masculinity and femininity.41 Elizabeth Faue’s study of labor relations in Minneapolis workers earlier in the century concluded that identification of work and workers as male marginalized women.42

Complex analyses of women’s work increasingly interrogated the intersections of race, class, and gender along with region, religion, ethnicity, and age. Race had become, in Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s analysis, a metalanguage, with a “powerful, all-encompassing effect [on] the construction and representation of other social and power relations, namely, gender, class, and sexuality.” Simple dichotomies no longer sufficed because, as Higginbotham observed, “race not only tends to subsume other sets of social relations, namely gender and class, but it blurs and disguises, suppresses and negates its own complex interplay with the very social relations it envelops.”43 Recent analyses of the racial dimensions of work and employment reconfigured the relationship between mothers, work, and social policy through an examination of the distinctive patterns of domesticity and waged labor in various racial and ethnic communities. Historians of the experiences of women of color have called into question the notion of a universal womanhood at the same time that historians of labor have questioned the universality of the female experience along class lines.44

Indeed, the troika of class, race, and gender (especially as complicated by marriage and motherhood) had to some extent replaced narrative histories of the labor movement, biographies of (mostly male) labor leaders, and detailed investigations of strikes as central issues in the history of labor.45 By the mid-1980s, women’s labor history became more nuanced as historians recognized that women’s work had been omitted from studies of slavery and from the accounts of African Americans’ activities during and following Reconstruction. The examination of work and parenthood under slavery for both male and female slaves and black and white women raised fundamental questions about work as a liberating experience.46 Other historians explored the role of women of color in trade union organizing, extending our understanding of the role of the community in labor struggles. Vicki Ruiz’s landmark study of Mexican cannery workers demonstrated their key roles in organizing the food processing industry; Margaret Rose explored the distinctive nature of Mexican American women’s activism in the United Farm Workers, distinguishing their participation from that of their male comrades, while Michael Flug examined the ways in which African American nurses’ aides tried to organize in Baltimore.47 By discussing distinctive women’s approaches to labor issues these authors situated the complexities of race/class/gender/ region in their economic and political contexts.

One of the questions that historians of the working-class still need to address is the extent to which, in Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s phrasing, “the totalizing tendency of race precludes recognition and acknowledgement of intragroup social relations as relations of power.”48 Several recent histories of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, for example, have shown how racial uplift, gender pride, and class conflict motivated women activists but also constrained them. Melinda Chateauvert and Paula F. Pfeffer found that the Brotherhood and its Ladies’ Auxiliaries fought for racial and economic equality through the union movement, but men had disdainful and paternalistic attitudes toward the Auxiliaries despite their central roles in recruiting members and raising funds.49 The Brotherhood was less effective in protecting female porters because the family wage ideology subsumed women’s interests under men’s.

A number of labor historians have documented women’s support for the family wage, including Mary Blewett’s investigation of the tensions between married and single women workers in the shoe industry.50 AvaBaron discussed women’s “consent” to oppression in terms of historical agency-not that women wished to be oppressed but rather that they believed their best interests were served through primary identification with their family or their race.51 In the highly charged racial conflicts of the early twentieth century, both the Ladies’ Auxiliaries and the Brotherhood accepted that African American men should support their families and that white people would respect them more if they did. In this race/gender system, women’s wages were less of a priority than men’s. Although the domestic and agricultural sectors in which they were concentrated were seldom part of major trade unions, black women did organize both as auxiliaries (as in the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters) and in their own unions, including those of domestics, where their battles for higher wages benefited the entire community and formed part of the African American community’s resistance to oppression.52

Labor history arguably has suffered as much or more than most areas of historical inquiry from essentializing white men as the norm, so that work became a term applied only to industrial labor to the exclusion of that in the home or the field. In 1989, Kessler-Harris called upon historians to substitute the social construction of gender for class formation as the central problematic of social history. She suggested that we need to ask not “what is the meaning of work?” or “what gendered images does it construct?” but rather “how is work interpreted by those who do it?” Ending the dichotomous approach to the past exemplified by the paradigm of separate spheres would permit historians “to evaluate women on their own terms” and extend the groups included. She concluded that gendered identity was part of a “historically contingent nexus that includes race and class” and shapes both the “behavior of historical actors and frames the interpretations of historians.”53 Crucial to this analysis is the relationship between different forms of women’s labors.

Gender actually has meant different things to men and women. Male and female work both “bear the mark of gender,” as Dorothy Sue Cobble has observed, but “for most men, gendered labor meant higher wages, status and more autonomy.”54 For women, it typically resulted in segregation into low paid employments inaccurately stigmatized as being unskilled, or the assumption that their economic interests are less significant than men’s. The new gendered labor history has gone beyond a simple reconstruction of working-class women’s experiences, as important as that reconstruction is, to a full analysis of the intricacies of a multivariate analysis that decodes the race/gender/class dynamics of people’s relation to the material world. Labor historians no longer assume that the working class was or is composed of white men in skilled trades nor that work occurs only in factories. What is needed now is a synthesis of work and working-class history that encapsulates diversity and complexity and incorporates a gendered analysis into all aspects of that history.

Mothers, Work, and Social Policy: De-centering Maternalism

The 1990s witnessed a growing body of scholarship addressing what Progressive-Era researcher Katherine Anthony termed “Mothers Who Must Earn,” focusing on the early-twentieth-century origins of the welfare state and the forging of the New Deal order. By the time that political scientist Theda Skocpol published Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States in 1992, with its portrayal of the United States not as a laggard in welfare state development but rather as a forger of a “maternalist welfare state, with female-dominated public agencies implementing regulations and benefits for the good of women and children,”55 historians of women already had named Progressive-Era reformers “maternalist.” Seth Koven and Sonya Michel’s pathbreaking 1990 article not only limited maternalism to the arena of maternal and child welfare but they carefully and critically spoke of “maternalist discourses” as “ideologies that exalted women’s capacity to mother and extended to society as a whole the values of care, nurturance, and morality.”56

Feminist scholars already had heard from Carol Gilligan about women’s different voice, which seemed to universalize the women’s culture that historians had excavated from the remains of bourgeois domesticity. Molly Ladd-Taylor had distinguished between “sentimental maternalists” and “progressive” ones, maternalists and feminists.57 Although Robyn Muncy talked of the reformers’ “female dominion” rather than about maternalist discourse, she too explored the Children’s Bureau and maternal and infant health.58 Linda Gordon in her search for the origins of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) offered the most sophisticated understanding of the maternalist hegemonic: from its association of women’s interests with children’s and focus on women’s domestic and family responsibilities to the self-perception of maternalists who not only “imagined themselves in a motherly role toward the poor” but also “believed that it was their work, experience, and/or socialization as mothers that made women uniquely able to lead certain kinds of reform campaigns and made others deserving of help.”59 But by concentrating on child welfare and the Children’s Bureau, Gordon neglected the parallel efforts of the Women’s Bureau to sustain women’s wage earning.

What distinguished Skocpol’s work was a focus beyond that of the Children’s Bureau; she embraced protective labor legislation as well as mothers’ pensions. The protectionist argument for wage and hour laws- that they would safeguard “the mothers of the race,” as the Supreme Court exclaimed in Muller v. Oregon-thus becomes a component of the maternalist state and belongs to the story of gender and the welfare state.
Skocpol, however, failed to consider that her maternalists were actually paternalists who would restrict female wage earning, whether or not women were mothers or mothers were breadwinners. In one of several disagreements with Skocpol, Gwendolyn Mink exposed how the opposition of wage earning to motherhood, sustained by maternalists, meant, “that maternalists tabled consideration of policies aimed at reconciling work with family life.” At the beginning of World War II, that tabling inhibited “the possibility of women’s economic independence and with it women’s full and equal citizenship.”60

In the post-Sears case, post-Gilligan world of feminist scholarship, it sometimes seemed that Kessler-Harris alone defended equal rights for wage-earning women. From the vantage point of the lives of wage-earning women, she later would expose “the paradox of motherhood”: restrictions on women’s labor force participation with no maternity leave or other protections for mothers on the job.61 During the mid- and late-1990s debate over welfare reform, Mink came to embrace support for motherwork as part of citizen equality, compatible with the critique of the racialized domesticity of earlier policy maternalists (who neglected if not negated the motherhood of women of color) but one that she recognized pulled her uncomfortably into their tradition.62 In the midst of these developments, Eileen Boris questioned an apparent gender division of labor within scholarship itself, a tendency to divide the redistributive state from the regulatory state, so that labor standards, equal pay, and the end of economic exploitation faded from the story of women and the welfare state.63 Those who began with labor and the standpoint of working-class women and families rather than at social agencies and the perspective of middle-class reformers found maternalism too simple. In an attempt to bridge the history of workers with that of women’s reform, they asked, as Boris did in the Journal of Women’s History 1993 symposium on maternalism, “Where is the Working of the Working Mother?”64 In comparing the fight for minimum wage legislation in Britain and the United States, Vivien Hart stepped outside the paradigm by focusing on constitutional rather than moral or economic factors to explain women-only legislation in the United States. In particular, Hart noted how “economic analysis was there from the start, struggling to come out, in conflict with traditional maternalism.”65

Indeed, Florence Kelley’s biographer Kathryn Kish Sklar named earlytwentieth century activists “social justice feminists” in recognition of their roots in the social gospel and “the social question.” They mediated class antagonism to facilitate industrial peace; as Sklar and her collaborators Anja Schuler and Susan Strasser later explained, “they sought structural changes in the social, political, or economic status quo, particularly by intervening in the marketplace or familial relationships to establish new standards of fairness.”66 Landon Storrs also claimed the feminist mantle earlier rejected by Molly Ladd-Taylor for the women reformers of the National Consumers’ League: the “League was concerned with reforming the conditions under which women were employed, not women’s practice of motherhood.”67 Storrs directed our attention to the post-suffrage work of the League and turned her lens South; both directions are significant for re-evaluating concern for wage-earning women and children as rights based on justice rather than maternalism.

Joanne Goodwin initially made the case for social justice feminists in an analysis of the politics of mothers’ pensions in Chicago, which focused on the advocacy of Edith Abbott and Sophonsiba Breckinridge. For these reformers, “social welfare went beyond measures for mothers and children. . . . They linked economic systems with politics and social relations.”68 In this interpretation, mothers’ pensions were less about family life and caretaking and more about work and earning, although the two could not be separated easily. Kleinberg’s research on the family economy and social welfare policy explicitly linked the rise of maternalist welfare policies to the changing structure of economic opportunity for women and children in three cities (Pittsburgh, Fall River, and Baltimore), reminding us that social policies varied significantly according to the racial, ethnic, and employment prospects of particular localities.69

Goodwin also affirmed that “race problematizes maternalism’s universalist assumptions and feminism’s focus on sex equity.”70 In her study of a Southwest community’s racial and class divide over the coming of an
“orphan train,” Gordon more recently exposed the misdirection of maternalism on the part of Anglos who refused to accept the placement of “white” Catholic children with Mexican families.71 As early as 1990, Mink had underscored the racialist project at the heart of maternalist social policy.72 Boris also argued in 1993 that black activist women forged an oppositional discourse of motherhood in reaction to classification of African American women as workers, not mothers in the racialized division of labor among women.73 As historians were beginning to document, Southern black clubwomen and churchwomen built community services outside of a hostile status apparatus; their relationship to the emerging welfare state, mediated by traditions of self-help and legalized segregation, proved even more complex because of race and region.74 Social policy on the national level by the 1930s did not explicitly bypass African Americans.

What appeared to be omission now seems more like exclusion, as Mary Poole has discovered in research on the Committee on Economic Security, the formulator of Social Security.75 As we have learned, labor legislation and social security defined recipients in ways that blocked their participation, a consequence of structures of federalism, labor market segmentation, and Southern control of Congress.76 What accounts for this trajectory? Here enters politics. The Reagan administration’s shredding of the safety net made earlier twentieth-century reformers in settlement houses, state and federal women’s and children’s bureaus, and throughout the Roosevelt administration look much more admirable as we sought to preserve the welfare state, however inadequate and discriminatory. Meanwhile, and perhaps in response, academic women’s studies during the 1980s and 1990s focused on difference, both between women and men and among women. Those who concentrated on women’s differences from men advocated women-specific remedies, such as pregnancy leave, and highlighted qualities associated with women, including a nurturing ability supposedly derived from motherhood. Historians gained new appreciation for the arguments of turn-of-the century women reformers who found in women’s social distinctiveness justification for state intervention in both the family and the labor contract. The success of the “pro-family” right led many feminists to maternalism as the best strategy for advancing women’s status at the end of the twentieth century, as it was at its beginning. The Clinton presidency also ignored calls for universal entitlements, so we found ourselves again “standing by the children.”77 But welfare “reform” in 1996 trampled the citizenship rights of poor single mothers, reinforcing the pitfalls of arguing for women’s rights on the basis of children’s needs.78

Women’s “rights” had become associated with participation in the waged workforce, not the right to choose how to combine motherwork and economic survival. Again, poor women, often the racial or ethnic “other,” became the target of uplift as policy, which still saw them as needing lessons in proper homemaking, motherhood, and the work ethic. But the ideal for white, middle-class women had shifted from the domestic norm to some form of wage-labor motherhood.79 Sociologist Ann Shola Orloff has argued that new gender dynamics, marked by the expectation of, as well as the increase in, women’s waged labor-even more than changing family and household organization-made elimination of AFDC possible. “Racial models of motherhood likely hastened shifts in the character of work requirements,” she has contended, but did not bring them about.80 In bidding farewell to maternalism, or programs that privilege motherhood and women’s domestic responsibilities, Orloff thus also bids good riddance. Like Kessler-Harris in The Pursuit of Equity,81 Orloff would insure the value of women’s wage labor, as do contemporary living wage campaigns.

Historians have produced less literature on carework as labor than have the theorists of the welfare state who ask how societies organize care.82 Emily Abel has investigated the caring of the ill and elderly and Linda Blum has explored breastfeeding as women’s labor.83 Studies of domestic service have been the exception. Focused on the relations between employer (or mistress) and employee (or maid), these works have suggested how class privilege, usually working through race and ethnicity, has separated women from each other. They have further complicated the category of household labor, revealing how the emotional work of the child nurse differed from the creativity of the cook or the autonomy of the washerwoman. The meaning of the home as a place of labor has depended on a woman’s relation to work: the maid’s toil could be homemaking for the mistress.84 Keeping this relational focus, Tera Hunter considered domestic labor from the perspective of African American women in New South Atlanta.85 Grace Chang, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, and Pierrette Hondagneu Sotelo have looked at how the cleaning and caring work of Latina immigrants represents shifts in the global economy where the nanny is the guest worker of choice. Women’s liberation from this standpoint appears to derive not from a new gender equity in household labor, but from the ability to purchase the services of another woman, who in turn must migrate away from her own children and home in order to be a good mother, that is, one who provides for her children.86

But maternalism may have been more of a discourse than a practice. To the extent that programs under its name would protect mother care of children, they rarely extended to all mothers or children. Instead, they were means-tested. The racialization of welfare, its association with women who were defined as laborers and whose carework remained unvalued, proved crucial in turning welfare into a work program. Thus, Boris has contended that the War on Poverty deployed the tellingly labeled manpower programs to undertake the maternalist project by instructing recipients how to establish proper homes, better families, and improved selves, even as it sought to uphold employment over welfare.87

The valuing of employment over unwaged carework did not happen overnight. From the first mothers’ pensions, the right to public assistance was always conditional, dependent upon race and ethnicity, citizenship, marital status, sexuality, and location.88 Beginning with Louisiana in 1943, as Goodwin cogently showed, states adopted “employable mother” rules that “forced” would-be recipients into the labor market if any form of employment was available.89 As Jennifer Mittelstadt has emphasized, the 1956 amendments to Social Security began the transformation of welfare from assistance to workfare, a movement away from a right to mother to a need to earn. Policymakers reconceptualized the original ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) as a program “to assist clients in maintaining and strengthening family life and encouraging ‘self-care and self-support'” among clients.90 Responding to changes in the recipient population-a shift away from white widows to the never married, the divorced, and the minority91- social welfare advocates argued for “rehabilitation,” a notion that through training, education, and other social services, families on welfare could become self-supporting through maternal employment.92 Behind talk about the psychological impact of work and the benefits of independence, Mittelstadt has argued, lay a conviction that welfare checks “were not adequate to provide a minimum standard of living.”93 Wage work promised a higher standard.

As Felicia Kornbluh and Martha Davis have documented, court decisions moved welfare closer to an entitlement in the 1960s, but the new scholarship on welfare has traced how subsequent reforms mandated workfare for mothers who had access to childcare.94 The replacement of AFDC with TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) insisted that recipients take any job, even one below minimum wage, kicking them out of higher education as well as out of the home and placing lifetime limits on obtaining social assistance. By then, employment had moved from a liberal strategy to increase women’s independence to a conservative strategy to punish their sexuality and reinforce the low-wage labor force, as Mink has emphasized.95 Once middle-class women began to obtain jobs in large numbers in order to sustain high standards of living, society grew unwilling to support poor women’s domesticity and care work. Poor women never really could choose stay-at-home motherhood, but after the end of welfare they lacked a social safety net. As Rickie Solinger passionately has contended, motherhood had become a “class privilege.”96 Such historically informed commentary on the end of welfare rights challenges historians to uncover mothering practices among non-elites to a greater extent than currently investigated.97

A Reconsideration

To move beyond the maternalist paradigm, we suggest that scholars enrich the locus of our research and expand the players in our history. Even during the heyday of the paradigm, those who researched in the papers of the Women’s Bureau or trade unions came away with a more complex story. This focus on the mother, rather than the children, and on her earning, rather than her nurturing, derived from the bureaucratic imperative of the Women’s Bureau, with its defense of “women’s right . . . to work for wages,” 98 rather than the mission offered by the more often studied Children’s Bureau. Sonya Michel had put the tension between support of “mother’s rights” and the meeting of “children’s needs” at the center of her sweeping history of childcare policy. In a manner not incompatible with the Women’s Bureau, Michel argued that “to ensure equal citizenship, social rights for women must, therefore, take into account their assignment to motherhood.”99

Julia Kirk Blackwelder has suggested that the Women’s Bureau, along with the War Manpower Commission, was a more vigorous defender of the right of married women to continue laboring than trade unions or Congress during reconversion from WWII.100 The notion of “a right to a job,” rather than “a right to childhood,”101 had distinguished demands of African American women and men during the Second World War. Boris turned to this quest for full citizenship in the 1940s as part of a larger exploration of the racialized gendered state. Studying fair employment allowed her to explore the conjuncture of mothers, work, and social policy from the perspective of the African American working class and state responses to their protest. Embedded in the call for fair employment were not only the efforts of the black working class to combine home and work but also a tale of how employment policy always impacts on family policy.102

It would be ahistorical to forget that cultural notions about motherhood apart from wage labor persisted into the mid-twentieth century. The Women’s Bureau continued to couch its explanation for mothers’ wage earning in demographic and economic terms. Essential for women’s ability to earn, day care could not be touted as a facilitator of women’s right to work; rather, it stood as an aid to meeting the necessity to labor. On the eve of the second wave of feminism, women in government bifurcated rights from needs even as they sought to advance women in the workforce and enable them to combine wage earning with family responsibilities.103 As Dorothy Sue Cobble and Dennis Deslippe have reminded us, trade union feminists from the mid-1940s had agitated for a family-friendly agenda that would alleviate such burdens;104 recent scholarship recognizes this contribution to the origins of the modern women’s movement. Trade union feminists understood, as Boris and Michel have contended, that the right to earn was not enough: It required additional social rights: welfare measures implemented by European social democratic and laborite parties, but blocked in the United States by the weakness of labor and strength of capital, racial divisions, and free-market ideology.105 Yet, passage of the Women’s Bureau own agenda-the 1963 Equal Pay Act-and the inclusion of sex in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act introduced a competing discourse that promised to turn needs into rights. How the histories of mothers with various racial, ethnic, and sexual identities; work; and social policy diverge and come together after WWII-how fair employment and affirmative action, maternity and family leave, equal pay and comparable worth, training and education, day care and health care, workfare and welfare-relate to the right to earn still remains to be untangled by labor and social welfare historians.

Where, then, does this trajectory leave the study of mothers and other workers? We suggest that both labor and welfare historians need to consider women’s and men’s work in terms of the family economy, that is, their roles both in the labor force and in the home, as well as the political interpretations of employment and caretaking. Much of our scholarship embraces a model of single-minded economic dedication. We must avoid trying to grind as much out of women as our society and the economy have done out of men-who previously had women as a backup on the home front. The Progressives may have been right to be ambivalent about mothers working, not because there is anything inherently wrong with female employment, but because it has seriously overburdened women who have to manage a home, look after children, and still be up for a job the next morning. Partners ideally should contribute their fair share to home and childcare, and the work traditionally done by women in the home should have the same standing as that done for wages in the labor force. But after decades of new feminism, we still wait for men to do housework and for caretaking to be valued.

Labor history as a discipline needs to examine people’s relation to the property and production construed in the broadest terms, including care work of all sorts and unremunerated labor. Integrating the study of work with that of social welfare policy development restructures the subject by extending the definition of work to encompass the gamut of women’s endeavors. The roads not taken in American history are not only those that lead to publicly funded childcare, but also those heading for the communal laundry and the co-operative kitchen.106

Labor history’s growing recognition of work, regardless of its location, as its proper subject matter has greatly expanded our inquiry into the relationships between gender, race, politics, and social welfare. By questioning who undertakes what kind of labor, how that labor is socially and politically constructed, and the policies that govern various types of labor, we illuminate the complicated impact of race and gender upon all people’s lives and life chances. Expanding the definition of work turns labor history from a study of white men’s unionizing efforts into a vehicle for exploring the crucial aspects of American history for all people, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, and, of course, gender. This, in turn, decentralizes the male definition of employment, investigates the racialized and gendered nature of employment, gives parity of interest to work inside and outside the home, and emphasizes the intersections between labors, care work, and public policy.


1Alice Kessler-Harris, In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 21.

2S. J. Kleinberg, Widows and Orphans First: The Family Economy and Social Welfare Policy (forthcoming, University of Illinois Press), chaps. 1 and 2.

3Kleinberg initially read every fifth year of the journal Labor History between 1960 and 1995, but as the frequency of gender-based material increased, she strayed from this sampling frame.

4Herbert Gutman, Power and Culture: Essays on the American Working Class ed., Ira Berlin (New York: Pantheon, 1987) exemplified the concerns of the new labor history. Leon Fink, In Search of the Working Class: Essays in American Labor History and Political Culture (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 3-15, contrasted Gutman and John R. Commons, the founder of American labor history with his four-volume History of Labor in the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1919- 1935). David Montgomery, Workers’ Control in America: Studies in the History of Work, Technology, and Labor Struggle (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979). For a brief biographical treatment of Commons, see Maurice Isserman, “‘God Bless Our American Institutions’: The Labor History of John R. Commons,” Labor History 17 (summer 1976), 309-28.

5A number of historians have made this point eloquently. See Ava Baron, “Gender and Labor History: Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future” in Work Engendered: Toward a New History of American Labor ed. Ava Baron (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991) and David Roediger, “What if Labor Were Not White and Male? Recentering Working-Class History and Reconstructing Debate on the Unions and Race” ILWCH 51 (spring 1997) 72-95. Jeanne Boydston, Home and Work: Housework, Wages, and the Ideology of Labor in the Early Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), explored the gendering of labor.

6Alice Kessler-Harris, “Treating the Male as ‘Other’: Redefining the Parameters of Labor History,” Labor History 34 (spring-summer 1993) 194; and Joan W. Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review 91 (December 1986), 1053-75. Geoff Ely and Keith Nield, “Farewell to the Working Class,” ILWCH 57 (spring 2000) 6, sardonically observed that “women workers finally arrive on the pages of social historians and the theorizing of class promptly migrates elsewhere.”

7David Montgomery’s Fall of the House of Labor (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 1; and Judith Stein, “Where’s the Beef,” International Labor and Working-Class History (ILWCH) 57 (spring 2000) 42-47. Racial, regional, and gender analysis inflects some of the best “new” labor history: for example, Tera Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women’s Lives and Labors after the Civil War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); Devra Weber, Dark Sweat, White Gold: California Farm Workers, Cotton, and the New Deal (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); and Mary Romero, Maid in the U.S.A. (New York: Routledge, 1993).

8Lucy Salmon, Domestic Service (New York: Macmillan, 1901); Annie Marion MacLean, Wage-Earning Women (New York: Macmillan, 1910); and Edith Abbott, Women in Industry (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1917). Region here indicates rural/urban, agricultural/industrial, and section of the nation.

9MacLean, Wage-Earning Women, 135-37.

10Ibid., 190, 117, 123. MacLean’s appendices do not include the date or sources from which they are drawn. Cross-referencing with the U.S. Census for 1900 indicates this to be their origin. Bureau of the Census, Statistics of Women at Work, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1907), 12.

11Constance M. Green, Holyoke, Massachusetts: A Case History of the Industrial Revolution in America (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1939); Vera Shlakman, Economic History of a Factory Town: A Study of Chicopee, Massachusetts (New York: Octagon, 1935); and Caroline M. Ware, The Early New England Cotton Manufacture: A Study in Industrial Beginnings (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931). Also see Hannah Josephson, The Golden Threads: New England’s Mills Girls and Magnates (New York: Russell and Russell, 1949).

12The most obvious exemplar of this approach is Barbara Welter, “The Cult of True Womanhood,” American Quarterly 18 (summer 1966), 151-74.

13Eleanor Flexner, A Century of Struggle: The Woman’s Rights Movement in the Untied States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1959), 330. On the importance of this book, see Ellen C. Dubois, “Foremothers I: Eleanor Flexner and the History of American Feminism,” Gender and History 3 (1991), 81-90.

14Flexner, A Century of Struggle, 53.

15Robert W. Smuts, Women and Work in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959), 6-11, 17-18.

16John A. Garraty, “The United States Steel Corporation Versus Labor: the Early Years,” Labor History, 1 (winter 1960), 3.

17Roediger, “What If Labor Were Not White and Male?” 73. For example, see Labor History, 1 (1960) and 6 (1965).

18Archie Green, “The Death of Mother Jones,” Labor History 1 (winter 1960), 77, 80. In contrast, see Elliott J. Gorn, Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Women in America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001).

19During the journal’s first decade, apparently the only exceptions to this neglect of women were James T. Patterson, “Mary Dewson and the American Minimum Wage Movement,” Labor History 5 (spring 1964), 134-52; and Allen F. Davis, “The Women’s Trade Union League Origins and Organization,” Labor History 5 (winter 1964), 3-17.

20Howard. M. Gitelman, “Adolph Strasser and the Origins of Pure and Simple Unionism” Labor History 6 (winter 1965), 71-83.

21Montgomery, The Fall of the House of Labor. Contrast this with Joan Scott, “On Language, Gender and Working-Class History” ILWCH 31 (spring 1987), 1-13.

22Patricia A. Cooper, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 221. Also see Dorothee Schneider, “The New York Cigar Makers Strikes of 1877,” Labor History 26 (summer 1985), 325-52.

23Leon Fink, “Culture’s Last Stand? Gender and the Search for Synthesis in American Labor History,” Labor History 34 (spring-summer 1993), 181.

24Roger W. Walker, “The AFL and Child-Labor Legislation,” Labor History 11 (summer 1970), 326; and Jeremy P. Felt, “The Child Labor Provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” Labor History 11 (fall 1970), 467. Arden J. Lea, “Cotton Textiles and the Federal Child Labor Act of 1916,” Labor History 16 (fall 1975), 485-94, also ignored female contributions to child labor legislation, all the more ironic given the importance of the Children’s Bureau in these struggles.

25John N. Schacht, “Toward Industrial Unionism: Bell Telephone Workers and Company Unions, 1919-1937,” Labor History 16 (winter 1975); 5-36; John Earl Haynes, “The ‘Rank and File Movement’ in Private Social Work,” Labor History 16 (winter 1975), 78-98; and Louis Leotta, “Abraham Epstein and the Movement for Old Age Security,” Labor History 16 (summer 1975), 359-77.

26Marc W. Kruman, “Quotas for Blacks: The Public Works Administration and the Black Construction Worker,” Labor History 16 (winter 1975) 37-51; Jean Ann Scarpaci, “Immigrants in the New South: Italians in Louisiana’s Sugar Parishes, 1880-1910,” Labor History 16 (spring 1975) 165-83; and Dana Frank, “White Working-Class Women and the Race Question,” ILWCH 54 (fall 1998), 80-102 examined gender specific race privileges.

27Thomas Dublin, “Women Work and Protest in the Early Lowell Mills: ‘The Oppressing Hand of Avarice Would Enslave Us,'” Labor History 16 (winter 1975), 96-116; and Tamara K. Hareven, “The Laborers of Manchester, New Hampshire, 1912-1922: The Role of Family and Ethnicity in Adjustment to Industrial Life,” Labor History 16 (spring 1975), 249-65.

28Alice Kessler-Harris, “Organizing the Unorganizable: Three Jewish Women and Their Union,” Labor History 17 (winter 1976) 5-23; and Barbara Klaczynska, “Why Women Work: A Comparison of Various Groups-Philadelphia, 1910-1930,” Labor History 17 (winter 1976), 73-87.

29Elizabeth H. Pleck, “A Mother’s Wages: Income Earning Among Married Italian and Black Women, 1896-1911,” in Michael Gordon, ed., The American Family in Social-Historical Perspective, 2d. ed. (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1978), 490- 510.

30S. J. Kleinberg, “Technology and Women’s Work: The Lives of Working Class Women in Pittsburgh, 1870-1900,” Labor History 17 (winter 1976), 58-72. Also see Boydston, Home and Work Susan Levine, Labor’s True Woman: Carpet Weavers, Industrialization and Labor Reform in the Gilded Age (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984) applied true womanhood to working class women who supported a class-based political movement at the same time that they regarded themselves as productive workers inside and outside the home. See also Christine Stansell, “Women, Children, and the Uses of the Streets: Class and Gender Conflict in New York City, 1850-1860,” Feminist Studies 8, (summer 1982), 309-35.

31Ardis Cameron, Radicals of the Worst Sort: Laboring Women in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1860-1912 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 168.

32Kessler-Harris, “Treating the Male as Other,” 198.

33Baron, “Gender and Labor History,” 9-10. See also Eileen Boris, Home to Work: Motherhood and the Politics of Industrial Homework in the United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994) for working-class women’s approach to motherhood and work for pay within the home. Dana Frank, Purchasing Power: Consumer Organizing, Gender, and the Seattle Labor Movement, 1919-1929 (New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1994) connects household labor to urbanization.

34Ira.Katznelson and Aristide Zolberg, eds., Working Class Formation (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1986).

35Linda Kerber, Review of Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic, ILWCH 31 (spring, 1987), 78.

36Richard Oestreicher, “Separate Tribes: Working Class History and Women’s History,” Reviews in American History 19 (June 1991), 228-31.

37Ely and Nield, “Farewell to the Working Class,” 3.

38William R. Sutton, “Tied to the Whipping Post: New Labor History and Evangelical Artisans in the Early Republics,” Labor History 36 (spring 1995), 251- 81, explored the gender stereotypes of leading labor historians. Also see, Elizabeth Faue, Community of Suffering and Struggle: Women, Men, and the Labor Movement in Minneapolis, 1915-1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), for a depiction of the gendered iconography employed by twentieth century workers.

39David Montgomery, “To Study the People: The American Working Class,” Labor History 21 (fall 1980) 497.

40Scott, “On Language, Gender and Working-Class History,” 2.

41Nancy Gabin, “Women Workers and the UAW in the Post-World War II Period: 1945-1954,” Labor History 21 (winter 1980), 5-30; and Nancy Gabin., Feminism in the Labor Movement: Women and the United Auto Workers, 1935-1975 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990)

42Elizabeth Faue, “Gender and the Reconstruction of Labor History: An Introduction,” Labor History 34 (spring-summer 1993), 172.

43Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race,” in “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible”: A Reader in Black Women’s History ed. Darlene Clark Hine, Wilma King,and Linda Reed (Brooklyn, NY: Carlson Publishing, 1995), 3-5.

44Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith, eds., All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies (New York: The Feminist Press, 1982); and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, “Beyond the Sound of Silence: Afro-American Women in History Gender and History 1 (spring 1989) 53. See, for example, Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom.

45Frank, “White Working-Class Women and the Race Question,” explored the intersections of class race and gender as did Eileen Boris, “‘You Wouldn’t Want One of ‘Em Dancing With Your Wife’: Racialized Bodies on the Job in WWII,” American Quarterly 50 (March 1998), 77-108.

46Carole Shammas, “Black Women’s Work and the Evolution of Plantation Society in Virginia,” Labor History 26 (winter 1985), 5-28. See also Patricia Morton, ed., Discovering the Women in Slavery (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996); Leslie Schwalm, A Hard Fight for We: Women’s Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997); and Jacqueline Jones, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family (New York: Basic, 1985).

47Vicki L. Ruiz, Cannery Women, Cannery Lives: Mexican Women, Unionization, and the California Food Processing Industry, 1930-1950 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1987); Margaret Rose, “From the Fields to the Picket Line: Heulga Women Did the Boycott, 1965-1975,” Labor History 31 (summer 1990) 271-293; and Michael Flug, “Organized Labor and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s: The Case of the Maryland Freedom Union,” Labor History 31 (summer 1990), 322-46.

48Higginbotham, “African-American Women’s History,” 17.

49Melinda Chateauvert, Marching Together: Women of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998); and Paula F. Pfeffer, “The Woes Behind the Union: Halena Wilson, Rosina Tucker, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters,” Labor History 36 (fall 1995), 557-78.

50Mary Blewett, Men, Women, and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988).

51See Baron, “Gender and Labor History,” 27-32 on “understanding ‘consent’ to oppression.”

52Tera Hunter, “Domination and Resistance: The Politics of Waged Household Labor in New South Atlanta,” Labor History 34 (spring-summer 1993), 208. Sharon Harley, “When Your Work Is Not Who You Are: The Development of a Working-Class Consciousness among Afro-American Women,” in “We Specialize in the Wholly Impossible”, 25-38.

53Alice Kessler-Harris, “Gender Ideology in Historical Reconstruction: A Case Study from the 1930,” Gender and History 1 (spring 1989), 31-49; and Welter,
“Cult of True Womanhood.”

54Dorothy Sue Cobble, “‘A Spontaneous Loss of Enthusiasm’: Workplace Feminism and the Transformation of Women’s Service Jobs in the 1970s,” ILWCH 56 (fall 1999), 34.

55Theda Skocpol, Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in the United States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), 2.

56Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, “Womanly Duties: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States, 1880-1920,” American Historical Review 95 (October 1990), 1079.

57Molly Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work: Women, Child Welfare, and the State, 1890- 1930 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).

58Robyn Muncy, Creating A Female Dominion in American Reform, 1890-1935 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).

59Linda Gordon, Pitied But Not Entitled: Single Mothers and the History of Welfare (New York: Free Press, 1994), 55.

60Gwendolyn Mink, The Wages of Motherhood: Inequality in The Welfare State, 1917-1942 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1995), 156.

61For her equality arguments, see Alice Kessler-Harris, A Woman’s Wage: Historical Meanings and Social Consequences (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1990); and Kessler-Harris, “The Paradox of Motherhood: Night Work Restrictions in the United States,” in Protecting Women: Labor Legislation in Europe, the United States, and Australia, 1880-1920, ed. Ulla Wikander, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Jane Lewis (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995), 337-57.

62Gwendolyn Mink, Welfare’s End (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998). For self-recognition, see Gwendolyn Mink, “The Lady and the Tramp (II): Feminist Welfare Politics, Poor Single Mothers, and the Challenge of Welfare Justice,” Feminist Studies 24 (spring 1998), 55.

63Boris, Home to Work.

64Eileen Boris, “What About the Working of the Working Mother?” Journal of Women’s History 5 (autumn 1993), 104-109.

65Vivien Hart, Bound By Our Constitution: Women, Workers, and the Minimum Wage (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1994), 98.

66Sklar emphasized her critique of maternalism during a panel in which Boris participated at “Re-visioning Women’s History: Working Seminars Across the Generations,” CUNY Graduate Center, March 13, 1999; Kathryn Kish Sklar, Anja Schuler, and Susan Strasser, Social Justice Feminists in the United States and Germany: A Dialogue in Documents, 1885-1933 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1998), 5-7; but also see Sklar, “The Historical Foundations of Women’s Power in the Creation of the American Welfare State, 1830-1930,” in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel, Mothers of a New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (New York: Routledge, 1993), 43-93.

67Landon R.Y. Storrs, Civilizing Capitalism: The National Consumers’ League, Women’s Activism, and Labor Standards in the New Deal Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), 5; Ladd-Taylor, Mother-Work, classifies such women under “progressive maternalism.”

68Joanne Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform: Mothers’ Pensions in Chicago, 1911-1929 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 10-11.

69S. J. Kleinberg, “The Economic Origins of the Welfare State, 1870-1939” in Social and Secure? Politics and Culture of the Welfare State: a Comparative Inquiry
ed. Hans Bak, Frits van Holthoon, and Hans Krabbendam, (Amsterdam: V.U. Press, 1996), 94-116.

70Goodwin, Gender and the Politics of Welfare Reform, 10.

71Linda Gordon, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard University Press, 1999).

72Gwendolyn Mink, “The Lady and the Tramp: Gender, Race, and the Origins of the American Welfare State, ” in Women, the State, and Welfare, ed. Linda Gordon (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990), 92-122.

73Eileen Boris, “The Power of Motherhood: Black and White Activist Women Redefine the ‘Political’,” in Mothers of a New World, 213-45.

74Linda Gordon, “Black and White Visions of Welfare: Women’s Welfare Activism, 1890-1945,” Journal of American History 78 (September 1991): 559-90;
Cynthia Neverdon-Morton, Afro-American Women of the South and the Advancement of the Race. 1895-1925 (Knoxville: University of Tenn. Press, 1989); Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896-1920 (Chapel Hill: University. of North Carolina Press, 1996); Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom, 130-44; and Deborah Gray White, Too Heavy A Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 (New York: Norton, 1998).

75Mary Poole, “Securing Race and Ensuring Dependence: The Social Security Act of 1935,” (Ph.D. diss., Rutgers University, 2000).

76Suzanne Mettler, Dividing Citizens: Gender and Federalism in New Deal Public Policy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998); although gender is not central, see also Robert C. Lieberman, Shifting The Color Line: Race and the American Welfare State (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998).

77Linda Gordon, “Putting Children First: Women, Maternalism, and Welfare in the Early Twentieth Century,” in U.S. History as Women’s History: New Feminist Essays, Linda Kerber, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Kathryn Kish Sklar, eds. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 63-86.

78Mink, Welfare’s End.

79Eileen Boris, “When Work Is Slavery,” in Whose Welfare? ed. Gwendolyn Mink (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University. Press, 1999), 36-55.

80Ann Shola Orloff, “Ending the Entitlements of Poor Single Mothers: Changing Social Policies, Women’s Employment, and Caregiving in the Contemporary United States,” in Women & Welfare: Theory and Practice in the United States and Europe ed. Nancy J. Hirschmann and Ulrike Liebert (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2001), 150.

81Kessler-Harris, In Pursuit of Equity.

82For a good sense of this literature, see the journal Social Politics. For an overview, Madonna Harrington Meyer, ed., Care Work, Gender, Labor, and the Welfare State (New York: Routledge, 2000).

83Emily Abel, Hearts of Wisdom: American Women Caring for Kin, 1850-1940 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000); and Linda Blum, At the Breast: Ideologies of Breastfeeding and Motherhood in the Contemporary United States (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999).

84Evelyn Nakano Glenn, “From Servitude to Service Work: Historical Continuities in the Racial Division of Paid Reproductive Labor,” Signs 18 (August 1992), 1-42; Phyllis Palmer, Domesticity and Dirt: Housewives and Domestic Servants in the United States, 1920-1945 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989); Romero, Maid in the U.S.A.; Vicki Ruiz, “By the Day or the Week: Mexicana Domestic Workers in El Paso,” in Women on the U.S.,-Mexico Border: Responses to Change, ed. Vicki Ruiz and Susan Tiano (Boston: Allen and Unwin, 1987), 61-76.

85Hunter, To ‘Joy My Freedom. See also, Elizabeth Clark Lewis, Living In, Living Out : African American Domestics and the Great Migration (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994).

86Grace Chang, Disposable Domestics: Immigrant Women Workers in the Global Economy (Boston: South End Press, 2000); Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration, and Domestic Work (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2001); Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo, Doméstica: Immigrant Workers Cleaning and Caring in the Shadows of Affluence (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); and Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, Global Women: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002).

87Eileen Boris, “Contested Rights: The Great Society Between Home and Work,” in The Great Society and the Rights Revolution ed. Sidney Milkis (Amherst: University of Mass. Press, forthcoming).

88Kleinberg, Widows and Orphans First.

89Joanne Goodwin, “‘Employable Mothers’ and ‘Suitable Work’: A Re-evaluation of Welfare and Wage-earning for Women in the Twentieth-Century United States,” Journal of Social History 29 (winter 1995), 253-74; Nancy Rose, Workfare or Fair Work: Women, Welfare, and Government Work Programs (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995), 73-75.

90Jennifer L. Mittelstadt, “The Dilemmas of the Liberal Welfare State, 1945- 1964: Gender, Race, and Aid to Dependent Children,” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 2000), 93.

91Robert A. Moffitt and Michele Ver Ploeg, eds., Evaluating Welfare Reform in an Era of Transition (Washington: National Academy Press, 2001), 16-7, especially Fig. 1-1, 1-2.

92Jennifer Mittelstadt, “‘Dependency as a Problem to be Solved’: Rehabilitation and the American Liberal Consensus on Welfare in the 1950s,” Social Politics 8 (summer 2001), 228-57.

93Blanche D. Coll, Safety Net: Welfare and Social Security, 1929-1979 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995), 164-238.

94Felicia A. Kornbluh, “A Right to Welfare? Poor Women, Professionals, and Poverty Programs, 1935-1975,” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 2000); and Martha Davis, Brutal Need: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement, 1960-1973 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1993); for recent history, Mink, ed., Whose Welfare?; Randy Albelda and Ann Withorn, eds., Lost Ground: Welfare Reform, Poverty, and Beyond (Boston: South End Press, 2002).

95Gwendolyn Mink, “Violating Women: Rights Abuse in the Welfare Police State,” in Lost Ground, 95-112.

96Rickie Solinger, Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001), 193.

97Recent books tend to focus on advice to mothers or adoption. For example, Julia Grant, Raising Baby by the Book: the Education of American Mothers (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1998); Julie Berebitsky, Like Our Own: Adoption and the Changing Culture of Motherhood , 1851-1950 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000).

98″The Share of Wage-Earning Women in Family Support,” Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, n.30 (Washington: GPO, 1923), 2.

99Sonya Michel, Children’s Interests/Mothers’ Rights: The Shaping of America’s Child Care Policy (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1999), 2.

100Julia Kirk Blackwelder, Now Hiring: the Feminization of Work in the United States, 1900-1995 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1997), 136-37.

101Kriste Lindenmeyer borrows this phrase from Florence Kelley’s 1905 social justice feminist tract, Some Ethical Gains through Legislation, for the title of
“A Right to Childhood”: The U.S. Children’s Bureau and Child Welfare, 1912-46 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1997).

102Eileen Boris, “‘The Right to Work is the Right to Live!’ The Rights Discourse of Fair Employment,” in Two Cultures of Rights: The Quest for Inclusion and Participation in Modern America and Germany eds. Manfred Berg and Martin Geyer (Washington, D.C. and New York: German Historical Institute and Cambridge University Press, 2002), 121-41; Boris, “The Gender of Discrimination: Race, Sex, and Fair Employment,” in Women and the U.S. Constitution: History, Interpretation, and Practice ed. Sibyl Schwarzenbach and Patricia Smith (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2003).

103Kathleen Laughlin, Women’s Work and Public Policy (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000).

104For example, Dorothy Sue Cobble, “Recapturing Working-Class Feminism: Union Women in the Postwar Era,” in Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960, ed. Joanne Meyerowitz (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1994), 57-83; and Dennis A. Deslippe, “Rights, Not Roses”: Unions and the Rise of Working-Class Feminism, 1945-80 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000).

105Eileen Boris and Sonya Michel, “Social Citizenship and Women’s Right to Work in Postwar America,” in Women’s Rights and Human Rights: International Historical Perspectives, ed. Patricia Grimshaw, Katie Holmes, and Marilyn Lake (New York: Palgrave, 2001), 199-219.

106Michel, Children’s Interests, 331 n. 47.

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