Cover image for Out to work : a history of wage-earning women in the United States
Out to work : a history of wage-earning women in the United States
Kessler-Harris, Alice.
Personal Author:
Twentieth anniversary edition.
Publication Information:
Oxford, Eng. ; New York : Oxford University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xvi, 414 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD6095 .K449 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



First published in 1982, this pioneering work traces the transformation of "women's work" into wage labor in the United States, identifying the social, economic, and ideological forces that have shaped our expectations of what women do. Basing her observations upon the personal experience ofindividual American women set against the backdrop of American society, Alice Kessler-Harris examines the effects of class, ethnic and racial patterns, changing perceptions of wage work for women, and the relationship between wage-earning and family roles. In the 20th Anniversary Edition of thislandmark book, the author has updated the original and written a new Afterword.

Author Notes

Alice Kessler-Harris is the R. Gordon Hoxie Professor of American History at Columbia University.

Table of Contents

I Forming the Female Wage Labor Force: Colonial America to the Civil War
1 Limits of Independence in the Colonial Economyp. 3
2 From Household Manufactures to Wage Workp. 20
3 Industrial Wage Earners and the Domestic Ideologyp. 45
II The Idea of Home and Mother at Work: The Civil War to World War I
4 "Why Is It Can a Woman Not Be Virtuous If She Does Mingle with the Toilers?"p. 75
5 Women's Choices in an Expanding Labor Marketp. 108
6 Technology, Efficiency, and Resistancep. 142
7 Protective Labor Legislationp. 180
III Transforming the Notion of Work for Women: World War I to the Present
8 Ambition and Its Antidote in a New Generation of Female Workersp. 217
9 Some Benefits of Labor Segregation in a Decade of Depressionp. 250
10 "Making History Working for Victory"p. 273
11 The Radical Consequences of Incremental Changep. 300
A Note of Acknowledgmentp. 320
Epiloguep. 325
Notesp. 337
Indexp. 403