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Tracing the shift in needleworkers' environments—the home, sweatshop, department store, and factory

A Needle, a Bobbin, a Strike

Women Needleworkers in America

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edited by Joan M. Jensen and Sue Davidson

"...an absorbing account of the interactions of cultural, technological, and economic change. There are sections on needlework 'as art, craft, and livelihood' in the early years; on critical events in the unionization of the industry; and on the new workers found in the industry today. As cultural and feminist historians, the contributors have added new dimensions to selected familiar events.... [It] will appeal to any reader interested in labor, feminist, or cultural history."
Library Journal

Almost exclusively considered "women's work," the sewing trades have a history of toil, exploitation, and unfinished protest. These essays trace the shift in needleworkers' environments—the home, sweatshop, department store, and factory—from the nineteenth into the twentieth century, and their adaptation to changes wrought by the sewing machine. The effects of unionization and the first landmark strikes in Cleveland, Rochester, Chicago, and New York City are compared to contemporary issues for clothing workers. The exploitation of foreign labor as well as minority workers in this country along with the re-emergence of sweatshops is the final focus of this collection on the plight of the needleworkers.

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Reviews

"The chronological structure, each section's lucid and comprehensive introduction, and a generally exemplary narrative style in the individual essays combine to create an enormously informative yet accessible book...."
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About the Author(s)

Joan M. Jensen is Professor of History at New Mexico State University.

Sue Davidson co-edited The Maimie Papers.

Subject Categories

American Studies
Women's Studies
Labor Studies and Work


In the series

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg.

No longer active.

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg, includes books on women and issues of work, family, social movements, politics, feminism, and empowerment. It emphasizes women's roles in society and the social construction of gender and also explores current policy issues like comparable worth, international development, job training, and parental leave.

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