The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans As Told By Themselves was originally published in 1906

This week you’ll be exploring the life and labor of women in the 19th century. The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans As Told By Themselves was originally published in 1906. It collected interviews with a number of ordinary Americans such as former slaves, immigrants, sweatshop workers, housewives, and farmers’ wives. These articles were first published in Holt’s reformist newspaper The New York Independent during the early 1900s. It’s interesting to compare women’s work today, over 100 years later, to that of women at the turn of the 19th century. How has women’s work changed over the past century and what has stayed the same?
Steps to complete the Assignment:

  1. Read the sources provided below:
    1. Emma Goldman’s statements on Having It All.
    2. Capmaker Rose Schneiderman
    3. Article on the first strike by Garment makers: Mother of all Strikes
    4. A Nurse in the South
    5. History of domestic labor from Mother Jones: Domestic Workers’ Invisible History
    6. Women on the Farm
    7. “Breaking the ‘grass ceiling’: More women are farming” by Christopher Doering, Gannett Washington Bureau, USA Today March 17, 2013.
  2. Write a 400-600 word essay that responds to the following questions – be sure to use examples to support your answers and demonstrate your understanding of the readings
    1. In your essay describe the challenges that each of these women faced in their daily life.
    2. What did they see as the major problems within their own society?
    3. Do they suggest a solution to those problems?
    4. How does Rose Schneiderman’s account relate to the article about the garment maker’s strike?
    5. How does the history of domestic workers reflect the challenges of women to unionize? How can we generalize the experiences of the Southern Nurse?
    6. What challenges does the Farm Woman discuss? How do the women in 1900 and the contemporary women challenge the notion of the traditional farm wife?

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