Cover image for Parlor ladies and ebony drudges : African American women, class, and work in a South Carolina community
Title:
Parlor ladies and ebony drudges : African American women, class, and work in a South Carolina community
Author:
Mack, Kibibi Voloria C., 1955-
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, [1999]

©1999
Physical Description:
xxvii, 233 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Upper-class African Americans -- Upper-class women's work outside the home -- Upper-class women's work inside the home -- Middle-class African Americans -- Middle-class women's work outside the home -- Middle-class women's work inside the home -- Working-class African Americans -- Working-class women's work outside the home -- Working-class women's work inside the home.
ISBN:
9781572330306
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library F279.O6 M33 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Parlor Ladies and Ebony Drudges does not simply fill in another piece of the mosaic that women s historians have been assembling. Raising new questions, it offers a fresh perspective on the history of African American women and invites us to follow new paths of inquiry. from the Foreword by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
Focusing on the community of Orangeburg, South Carolina, from 1880 to 1940, Parlor Ladies and Ebony Drudges explores the often sharp class divisions that developed among African African women in that small, semirural area.
Kibibi Voloria Mack s research challenges the conventional thesis that all African American women toiled and toiled hard throughout their lives. She shows that this was only true if they belonged to certain socioeconomic classes. Mack finds that, in Orangeburg, a significant minority did not have to work outside the home (unless they chose to do so) and that some even had staffs of domestics to do their housework a situation paralleling that of the town s genteel white women. While the factors of gender and race did restrict the lives of all African American women in Jim Crow Orangeburg, Mack argues, there was no real solidarity across class lines. In fact, as she points out, tensions often arose between women of the upper classes and those of the middle and working classes.
Mack offers a rich picture of the work patterns, social lives, home lives, attitudes, and self-images of the women of each class, carefully distinguishing their differences and noting the historical changes and continuities that affected them. The book is not only an important contribution to the study of African American women in the South but also to the research on women s work more generally: it is a vital corrective to the past emphasis on white women living in northeastern urban areas.
The Author: Kibibi Voloria C. Mack is an assistant professor in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and received her doctorate in history at the State University of New York, Binghamton. The mother of four daughters, she has also written several books for young people on African and African American history.
"


Author Notes

Kibibi Voloria C. Mack is an assistant professor in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She is a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, and received her doctorate in history at the State University of New York, Binghamton. The mother of four daughters, she has also written several books for young people on African and African American history


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Mack challenges widely accepted interpretations of race and gender solidarity in the Jim Crow South with her examination of Africa American women's labor in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Based largely on oral interviews with these women, their friends, and family members, Mack's argument shows how persistent class divisions fostered intra racial segregation. Elite black women's unwillingness to rub shoulders with those of lesser financial means prohibited the possibility of a sisterhood based on race; middle-class women, who realized they were just "a few steps away from" the working-class majority, strove to maintain a discernable distance from agricultural workers and laundresses. What emerges clearly from Mack's study is the pivotal role education played in determining class status in Orangeburg. Nearly all of the city's elite were affiliated with either Chaflin University or State A&M; even a woman who took in college student boarders could be considered a "pseudo-aristocrat." Academic snobbery was buttressed by certain religious affiliations and skin color tests that secured the barriers separating African American women. Mack's book raises important questions about race, class, and gender relationships, but it is weakened by a careless use of visual images, including contemporary staged photographs of domestic work, recent portraits of interviewees, and briefly captioned snapshots of houses. Undergraduates and above. M. A. McEuen; Transylvania University


Table of Contents

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese
Forewordp. xiii
Acknowledgmentsp. xix
Introductionp. xxi
Part I. Pseudo-Aristocratic Women of Ebony: The Elite
1. Upper-Class African Americansp. 3
2. Upper-Class Women's Work outside the Homep. 34
3. Upper-Class Women's Work inside the Homep. 61
Part II. The Ebony In-Betweens: The Middle Class
4. Middle-Class African Americansp. 73
5. Middle-Class Women's Work outside the Homep. 84
6. Middle-Class Women's Work inside the Homep. 111
Part III. The Toiling Ebony Drudges: The Working Class
7. Working-Class African Americansp. 119
8. Working-Class Women's Work outside the Homep. 143
9. Working-Class Women's Work inside the Homep. 174
Conclusion: A Sisterhood Deniedp. 183
Notesp. 189
Bibliographyp. 215
Indexp. 229

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