Working Women of Collar City

Working Women of Collar City : Gender, Class, and Community in Troy, New York, 1864-86

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Why have some working women been successful at organizing in spite of obstacles to labor activity? Under what circumstances were they able to form alliances with male workers?Carole Turbin explores these questions by examining the case of Troy, New York, which in the 1860s produced nearly all the nation's popular detachable shirt collars and cuffs. Troy's collar laundresses were largely Irish immigrants who labored under harsh conditions, washing, starching, and ironing newly manufactured detachable collars for sale to retailers. The laundresses' union was officially the nation's first women's labor organization, and one of the best organized. In a period when many men were hostile to working women, they nevertheless formed close alliances with male labor activists.Turbin's study of the collar workers develops new perspectives on gender. She demonstrates that women's family ties are not necessarily a conservative influence but may encourage women's and men's collective action. Her analysis of variations in collar women's employment patterns, family structure, and activism reveals new ways of conceptualizing differences in women's and men's work and family lives. Turbin's discussion of major labor struggles in 1864, 1869, and 1886, which were integral to nineteenth-century working-class movements, reveals variations in the gender ideologies of women of different ethnic and religious groups. This analysis reveals the subtlety and complexity of gender differences between women and men.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 160.5 x 234.7 x 23.9mm | 562.46g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252018362
  • 9780252018367

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