ABOUT THIS BOOK
Where is the "common ground of womanhood"? In a unique and
highly nuanced study of previously unexplored cross-class alliances, Priscilla
Murolo charts the shifting points of consensus and conflict between working
women and their genteel club sponsors, working women and their male counterparts,
and among working women of differing ethnic backgrounds.
The working girls' club movement lasted from the 1880s, when women poured
into the industrial labor force, into the 1920s. Clubs initially were
governed by upper-class women, and activities converged around standards
of "respectability" and the defense and uplift of the character
of women who worked for wages. Later, the workers themselves presided
over the clubs, at which point the focus shifted to issues of labor reform,
women's rights, and sisterhood across class lines.
This valuable and lucid study of the club movement's trajectory throws
new light on broader trends in the history of women's alliances, social
reform, gender conventions, and worker organizing.
A volume in the series Women in American History, edited by Anne Firor
Scott, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Stephanie Shaw, and in the series The Working
Class in American History, edited by David Brody, Alice Kessler-Harris,
David Montgomery, and Sean Wilentz