Looking through the lens of black business history, Beauty Shop Politics shows how black beauticians in the Jim Crow era parlayed their economic independence and access to a public community space into platforms for activism. Tiffany M. Gill argues that the beauty industry played a crucial role in the creation of the modern black female identity and that the seemingly frivolous space of a beauty salon actually has stimulated social, political, and economic change.
From the founding of the National Negro Business League in 1900 and onward, African Americans have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit by starting their own businesses, but black women's forays into the business world were overshadowed by those of black men. With a broad scope that encompasses the role of gossip in salons, ethnic beauty products, and the social meanings of African American hair textures, Gill shows how African American beauty entrepreneurs built and sustained a vibrant culture of activism in beauty salons and schools. Enhanced by lucid portrayals of black beauticians and drawing on archival research and oral histories, Beauty Shop Politics conveys the everyday operations and rich culture of black beauty salons as well as their role in building community.
Struggling to survive in post–World War II Germany, Beate Uhse (1919–2001)—a former Luftwaffe pilot, war widow, and young mother—turned to selling goods on the black market. A self-penned guide to the rhythm method found eager buyers and started Uhse on her path to becoming the world’s largest erotica entrepreneur. Battling restrictive legislation, powerful churches, and conservative social mores, she built a mail-order business in the 1950s that sold condoms, sex aids, self-help books, and more. The following decades brought the world’s first erotica shop, the legalization of pornography, the expansion of her business into eastern Germany, and web-based commerce.
Uhse was only one of many erotica entrepreneurs who played a role in the social and sexual revolution accompanying Germany’s transition from Nazism to liberal democracy. Tracing the activities of entrepreneurs, customers, government officials, and citizen-activists, Before Porn Was Legal brings to light the profound social, legal, and cultural changes that attended the growth of the erotica sector. Heineman’s innovative readings of governmental and industry records, oral histories, and the erotica industry’s products uncover the roots of today’s sexual marketplace and reveal the indelible ways in which sexual expression and consumption have become intertwined.
From lobbyists such as Jack Abramoff, to corporate executives, like Enron's Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling, recent scandals dealing with politics and government have focused only on men at the top. But do these high-profile men accurately represent the gendered make up of corporate-government in the United States?
In this first in-depth look at the changing face of corporate lobbying, Denise Benoit shows how women who have historically worked mostly in policy areas relating to "women's issues" such as welfare, family, and health have become increasingly influential as corporate lobbyists, specializing in what used to be considered "masculine" policy, such as taxes and defense. Benoit finds that this new crop of female lobbyists mobilize both masculinity and femininity in ways that create and maintain trusting, open, and strong relations with those in government, and at the same time help corporations to save and earn billions of dollars.
While the media focuses on the dubious behaviors of men at the top of business and government, this book shows that female corporate lobbyists are indeed one of the best kept secrets in Washington.
Emma McChesney and Co.
Edna Ferber University of Illinois Press, 2002 Library of Congress PS3511.E46E53 2002 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Edna Ferber, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Show Boat and Giant, achieved her first great success with a series of stories featuring Emma McChesney: a smart, stylish, divorced mother who in a mere twelve years rose from stenographer to traveling sales representative to business manager and partner of the T. A. Buck Featherloom Petticoat Company.
In this final of three volumes chronicling the travels and trials of Emma McChesney, first published in 1915, Emma's son, Jock, has moved to Chicago with his new wife. Struggling with a newly emptied nest, Emma dives into a whirlwind South American sales tour to prove she hasn't lost her touch.
Back in New York, Emma and her business partner, T. A. Buck Jr., try to disguise their budding romance from colleagues. After months of acting like a "captain of finance when he feels like a Romeo," T. A. convinces Emma they should marry. Emma tries to "be what the yellow novels call a doll-wife" but trades in her fancy dressing gowns for more sensible business suits and heads back to the office.
With one hand writing advertising copy and the other wrapped around a pair of shears, Emma saves the company from financial peril amid the arrival of some flustering, if exciting, news from Jock. By turns sales pro, newlywed, fashion maven, and anxious grandmother, Emma symbolizes the ideal woman at the dawn of the twentieth century: sharp, capable, charming, and progressive. Emma McChesney and Co. is enhanced by the illustrations of James Montgomery Flagg, one of the most highly regarded book illustrators of the period.
Hemmed in by "women's work" much less than has been thought,
women in the late 1800s and early 1900s were the primary entrepreneurs
in the millinery and dressmaking trades. The Female Economy explores that lost world of women's dominance,
showing how independent, often ambitious businesswomen and the sometimes
imperious consumers they served gradually vanished from the scene as custom
production gave way to a largely unskilled modern garment industry controlled
by men. Wendy Gamber helps overturn the portrait of wage-earning women
as docile souls who would find fulfillment only in marriage and motherhood.
She combines labor history, women's history, business history, and the
history of technology while exploring topics as wide-ranging as the history
of pattern-making and the relationship between entrepreneurship and marriage. A volume in the series The Working Class in American History, edited by David Brody, Alice Kessler-Harris, David Montgomery, and Sean Wilentz, and in the series Women in American History, edited by Anne Firor Scott, Nancy A. Hewitt, and Stephanie Shaw
In The Making of "Mammy Pleasant," Lynn M. Hudson examines the folklore of Mary Ellen Pleasant's real and imagined powers. Addressing the lack of a historical record of black women's lives, Hudson argues that the silences and mysteries of Pleasant's past, whether never recorded or intentionally omitted, reveal as much about her life as what has been documented. The Making of "Mammy Pleasant" integrates fact and speculation culled from periodicals, court cases, diaries, letters, Pleasant's interviews with the San Francisco press, and various biographical and fictional accounts. Through Pleasant's remarkable life, Hudson also interrogates the constructions of race, gender, and sexuality during the formative years of California's economy and challenges popular mythology about the liberatory sexual culture of the American West.
This volume makes available for the first time in English a variety of primary source materials relating to the life and work of Natalia Shelikov, a pioneering nineteenth-century Russian-American businesswoman. As a principal of the Russian-American Company, Shelikov worked in Alaska, and her business acumen and wide-ranging connections—including the empress of Russia and a swathe of northern leaders—were crucial to the growth of Alaska’s economy, as well as to the welfare of the Native people, in whose life and culture she took a strong interest. The letters, petitions, and personal documents presented here will be indispensable for students of Alaska and nineteenth-century women’s history.
Edna Ferber, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Show Boat and Giant, achieved her first great success with a series of stories she published in American Magazine between 1911 and 1913. The stories featured Emma McChesney: smart, savvy, stylish, divorced mother, and Midwest traveling sales representative for T. A. Buck's Featherloom skirts and petticoats. With one hand on her sample case and the other fending off advances from salesmen, hotel clerks, and other predators, Emma holds on tightly to her reputation: honest, hardworking, and able to outsell the slickest salesman.
Like her compact bag of traveling necessities, Emma has her life boiled down to essentials: her work and her seventeen-year-old son, Jock. Her experience has taught her that it's best to stick to roast beef, medium--avoiding both physical and moral indigestion--rather than experiment with fancy sauces and exotic dishes. Yet she never shies away from a challenge, and her sharp instincts and common sense serve her well in dealing with the likes of Ed Meyer, a smooth-talking, piano-playing salesman; Blanche LeHay, prima donna of the Sam Levin Crackerjack Belles; and T. A. Buck Jr., the wet-behind-the-ears son of the founder of Featherloom.
Roast Beef, Medium is the first of three volumes chronicling the travels and trials of Emma McChesney. The illustrations by James Montgomery Flagg, one of the most highly regarded book illustrators of the period, enhance both the humor and the vivid characterization in this wise and high-spirited tale.
Unexceptional Women:Female Proprietors in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Albany, New York, 1830–1885 by Susan Ingalls Lewis challenges our conceptions about mid-nineteenth-century American women, business, and labor, offering a detailed study of female proprietors in one industrializing American city. Analyzing the careers of more than two thousand women who owned or operated businesses between 1830 and 1885, Lewis argues that business provided a common, important, and varied occupation for nineteenth-century working women. Based on meticulous research in city directories, census records, and credit reports, this study provides both a demographic portrait of Albany’s female proprietors and an examination of the size, scope, longevity, financing, and creditworthiness of their ventures.
Although the growing city did produce several remarkable businesswomen in trades as diverse as hotel management, plumbing, and the marketing of pianos on the installment plan, Albany’s female proprietors were most often self-employed artisans, shopkeepers, petty manufacturers, and service providers. These women used business as a method of self-employment and survival, as a means of both individual and family mobility, and as a strategy for immigrant assimilation into an urban economy and middle-class lifestyle.
Intriguingly, among the ranks of Albany’s female proprietors Lewis discovered substantial evidence of such supposedly recent phenomena as self-employment, dual-income marriages, working motherhood, home-based business, and the juggling of domestic and professional priorities. The stories of these businesswomen make fascinating reading while simultaneously providing the basis for a theoretical discussion of how to define and understand enterprise for mid-nineteenth-century women.
What Diantha Did
Charlotte Perkins Gilman Duke University Press, 2005 Library of Congress PS1744.G57W47 2005 | Dewey Decimal 813.4
This edition of What Diantha Did makes newly available Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s first novel, complete with an in-depth introduction. First published serially in Gilman’s magazine TheForerunner in 1909–10, the novel tells the story of Diantha Bell, a young woman who leaves her home and her fiancé to start a housecleaning business. A resourceful heroine, Diantha quickly expands her business into an enterprise that includes a maid service, cooked food delivery service, restaurant, and hotel. By assigning a cash value to women’s “invisible” work, providing a means for the well-being and moral uplift of working girls, and releasing middle-class and leisure-class women from the burden of conventional domestic chores, Diantha proves to her family and community the benefits of professionalized housekeeping.
In her introduction to the novel, Charlotte J. Rich highlights Gilman’s engagement with such hotly debated Progressive Era issues as the “servant question,” the rise of domestic science, and middle-class efforts to protect and aid the working girl. She illuminates the novel’s connections to Gilman’s other feminist works, including “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and Herland; to her personal life; and to her commitment to women’s social and economic freedom. Rich contends that the novel’s engagement with class and race makes it particularly significant to the newly complex understanding of Gilman that has emerged in recent scholarship. What Diantha Did provides essential insight into Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s important legacy of social thought.