ERIC Number: ED308041
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
"Home Work" and Nineteenth-Century West Virginia Women.
Howe, Barbara J.
This paper investigates the paid employment of mid-nineteenth century women, especially female heads of households, in two West Virginia cities. During this period, Wheeling was a large industrial city and major transportation center, while Morgantown was an isolated college town. An examination of census entries and city directories for Wheeling and Morgantown from 1840 to 1880 reveals that women had limited opportunities for paid employment. The vast majority of women followed occupations that capitalized on their traditional domestic and nurturing skills. Even when they moved into retail shops, they usually did so in areas related to cooking and sewing. Women in unusual occupations often appeared to have inherited their husbands' businesses. While Wheeling listed a number of women as teachers, particularly during the Civil War, this field seems to have been closed to women in Morgantown. Employment opportunities for women apparently expanded during the Civil War, only to diminish again by 1870. Women without skills or funds were relegated to the hard low-wage jobs of seamstress or washerwoman, or, if they wanted more money, they became prostitutes. In general, though, women worked in a pre-industrial economy, even when they lived in a heavily industrialized city such as Wheeling. This paper contains 36 endnotes. (SV)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Endowment for the Humanities (NFAH), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: West Virginia