"To toil the livelong day": America's women at work, 1780-1980

"This lively and thought-provoking book takes a close look at women's work--paid and unpaid, domestic and public, agrarian and industrial--over the past two centuries in America. Covering a wide array of working situations, from a farm household in eighteenth-century New England to a contemporary office being picketed by striking clerical workers in Wisconsin, it offers important new perspectives on women's experience in the labor force. "To Toil the Livelong Day" is made up of seventeen essays that are grouped according to the period they discuss: 1780-1880, 1870-1920, 1910-1940, and 1940-present. The essays are preceded by the editors' introduction highlighting the themes that link women's work experience across boundaries of time, space, class, and race. Several of the essays, such as one on slave women, are certain to arouse controversy. Those that treat unionized women workers confront currently held views concerning the formation of working-class culture. Still others, such as one that describes women's roles in shoemaking families, raise serious questions about the validity of theories propounded by contemporary historians of women. All the essays reflect the ways in which gender, race, and the sexual division of labor have helped to shape women's work experience. A gathering of the best papers delivered at the Sixth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, this book calls for new conceptions of women's work based on models other than those traditionally used for men. It suggests that we must look more broadly at kin and community networks, at different kinds of leisure activities, at women in relation to families, unions, and strikes, to understand more fully the female half of the work force."--Back cover.