The Female Work Experience, 1890-1920
Burchfield, Jane Elizabeth
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This paper is my attempt to examine the milieu of working-class women in the years 1890-1920. During those years Americans witnessed the first serious challenge to the mores and customs of traditional womanhood. As the increasingly industrialized character of the American economy placed new demands on existing societal structures, a break with the past, with the traditional family economy was inevitable. In the latter years of the nineteenth century an expanded work force was required to fill the needs of industry. In answer to that need, women began entering the paid labor force in increasing numbers. This new position of women in the work force was to have startling repercussions. American society was not immediately comfortable with this movement and, in fact, regarded it as a threat to the stability of the home and, by extension, the health of the nation.