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Work, Gender and the Artisan Tradition in New England Shoemaking, 1780-1860 Author(s): Mary H.

Blewett Reviewed work(s): Source: Journal of Social History, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Winter, 1983), pp. 221-248 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3786900 . Accessed: 05/12/2011 00:50
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WORK, GENDER AND THE ARTISAN TRADITION IN NEW ENGLAND SHOEMAKING, 1780-1860 In the 1970s Americanlabor historywas transformedinto a new labor history by the influential work of British historians, especially EdwardP. Thompson. FollowingThompson's model of examiningthe culturalexpressions of workingclass experience, American scholars looked at artisan life in the pre-industrial cities and towns of the Easternseaboardand locateda majorsource of resistance was to earlycapitalismin artisanculture.Seventies historiography also challenged by the development of women's history as a distinct field in social history, but many laborhistorianswho were swift to studyworkercultureconcentratedon the cultural,religiousand politicalactivitiesof male artisans,generallyassumingthat the experienceof other familymemberswas subsumedunder male experienceor was indistinguishablefrom it.1 These historiansneed to borrowthe analysis of gender relationsin the family and at work from women's history to fully realize the meaning of worker culture and, in the case of pre-industrialartisan life, of understandthe limitationswhichthe gender perceptions artisanideologyplaced on labor protest.The work of Thomas Dublin on the Lowell mill operativesbest combined the new labor history with women's history to analyze the work Dublin's work, experience and culture of women in early industrialcapitalism.2 however, located the ideological source of labor protest among the textile operatives, not in artisan culture, but in the ideology of the Yankee freehold farmer. This essay examines the relationshipbetween gender and work in the shoe industryin Essex County, Massachusettsbefore the Civil War.Largenumbersof men and women were employedin the putting-outsystem of domesticproduction as the boot and shoe industry of New England expanded prior to 1860. Prebetween industrialmethods of shoemakinginvolved an initiallyclose relationship of work and family, productionand the home, in which the interrelationships gender and work can be observed. Men and women shared the work and traditionsof artisanlife in the family, but each gender experiencedwork, culture and consciousness in different ways. What were the attitudes of male artisans towardwomen who workedin shoe productionand how did these attitudesshape artisanideology? Did the culturaltraditionsand ideology of artisanlife reflector serve the interests of pre-industrial women workers who were drawn into productionin the earlynineteenthcentury?How did the differencesin genderand workaffectthe abilityof artisansto protestthe rise of industrialization? The pre-industrial phase of New Englandshoe productionwas a golden age of artisanlife, and shoemakerswere centralto the rise of workerprotestagainstearly industrialcapitalism.The groupexperienceof trainingand work in the apprentice system and its traditionsof mutualobligationdefinedartisanculture.Its locus was the shoe shop where the craftwas learnedand practiced. Decentralizedproduction allowed groups of male artisanssignificantcontrol over the process of work and fostered a strong traditiqn of militant resistance to the reorganization of productionby employers.Its mechanics'ideology, analyzedby Paul Falerfor the shoemakers of Lynn, Massachusetts, rested on the labor theory of value and as republicanism a politicalheritagefrom the AmericanRevolution. Alan Dawley


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has seen this "equal rights" ideology as central to the activities of protesting shoemakersthroughoutmost of the nineteenth century.3The ideologyof artisan culturealso includedperceptionsof genderrelationships the familyand at work in which defined and separatedthe roles of men and women and based collective actionon the craftsman householder. and For women workers,the pre-industrial periodwas a time of submersionin the familyand in the familywage economy. The sexual division of laborplacedthem outside of the vitalityof life, politicsand workwhichcenteredin the artisanshop.4 While male artisansdefended their craft and its traditionsbefore 1860, women workersexperiencedthe cuttingedge of changein the reorganization workafter of 1780:a sexual division of laborwhich denied them craftstatus, the disassociation of their work from the family laborsystem, the increasingly direct contactof the individual worker with the employer, the isolation and vulnerability of the outworkerand the mechanizationand centralization workin the factory.These of changes in women's work affected artisan shoemakers. They faced a loss of control over the coordinationof productionand a loss of wages for the family and of economy. In the 1850s mechanization centralization women's workaltered the size and compositionof the male workforce, a factorwhich helpedprecipitate in 1860 the largest pre-CivilWar demonstrationof labor protest. However, for many women workers in factory production,the artisan traditionof collective resistancerepresentedneither their work nor their culturalexperience.This new generation of female factory workers came into conflict with the striking shoemakers of Lynn over the objectives and strategy of the regional strike in 1860. This division of interestsweakenedlaborprotestin 1860 and pointedto the conflict between ideology and realityin the gender perceptionsof New England artisans.Women shared the work in shoe productionwith men, but after 1860 they would need to create an ideology to justify labor protest based on their distinct experience. To understandthis experience before 1860 will enrich the The meaningof workerculturein earlyindustrialization. submersionof women's work experiencewithin artisanculturehas obscuredthe penetrationof home-life and the workprocessby earlycapitalism has sustainedthe illusion of the early and nineteenth family as a refuge from the market place. The failure of artisansto perceive and accommodatethe interests of women as workersweakened their of abilityto challengethe reorganization workby earlyindustrial capitalism. How did women come to share the work of artisans?There is no evidence in in primaryor secondarysources of any female participation colonialshoemaking. for Men's workwas either itinerantor custom work.In the 1750s higherstandards the productionof women's shoes based on the European artisan model were introduced in Lynn by John Dagyr, and the master-journeyman-apprentice system was expanded to teach and practicea more refined craft. This system spread throughoutEssex County, Massachusettsand was also common in New York, Pennsylvaniaand New Jersey.5Beforethe expansionof the artisansystem, shoemakershad workedalone in the kitchens of their houses (or other people's houses), in an el or an attachedshed. This was a domesticsettingfor workwhere shared family labor might have evolved as in hosiery making or spinning and weaving in England.However, with the expansion of the artisansystem and an increase in production,shoemakingrequiredits own work space to accomodate several men and boys on various levels of the craft.A small out-buildingcalleda "ten footer" began to appearin Essex County by the 1780s as a self-contained work area for men.6 Manywives must have been pleased to rid their kitchensof the clutter,dirtand smell of the shoemaker'sparaphenalia.



In the 1780s with the rise of tariffprotection,the declineof Englishimportsand the development of a potentially large domestic market, merchant capitalists began to expand production of shoes for a ready-to-wear market. John R. Commons analyzed the evolution of production in the industry and saw the crucialfactors as new marketsand the influence of competitive forces acting to stimulate the investment of capital and labor in shoemaking. Paul Faler also emphasized the expansion of markets in the transformation of production. Dawley focused on the primaryrole of the merchantcapitalistwho suppliedthe artisanshoemakerwith leather, paid him wages and sought out new marketsfor shoes. Commons, Faler and Dawley ignoredthe implicationsof the introduction of the sexual division of laborinto shoemakingas a craft.They do, however, point to the roughdivision of laborin the shoe shop in the 1780s:the separationof the major steps of shoemaking into cutting, sewing and making.7The shoemaker continued to be trained as an apprenticeto make the entire shoe. When the division of men's work did not fill the demands of production,a solution was found withinthe shoemakingfamily. The motive for the recruitmentof women in shoemakingfamilies to new work appearsto have been made in the context of a shift in the control of profits as production expanded between 1780 and 1810. Production was expanded by merchant capitalistswho bought leather and provided it to shoemakers. The merchantcapitalistowned the shoes and marketedthem. This control over raw materials meant control of profits as all cordwainers knew, and master shoemakers borrowed capital if they could to purchase leather.8 Those shoemakerswho owned no leather and who acceptedwork from capitalistshad only their laborfrom which to profit.They dividedup the workamong the men in their shops and augmentedtheir wage income from laborby recruitingadditional family membersfor work:their women. The male head of the shoemakingfamily disciplinedand controlledwomen's work in the home. The merchantcapitalist, who had no control over the assignment of work in the artisanshop or family, welcomedthe new potentialfor production.As entrepreneurs,they paidno wages directlyto women workersand did not need to supervise their work.By adapting to the new work, women addedtheir traditional household laborto their family's income in ways which continued to permit them to combine family and work roles.9 Why didn't the apprenticesdo the sewing of uppers to meet the needs of expandedproduction?They had learnedthe skill as partof their apprenticeship, and some did sew uppers whenever bottlenecks in production occurred. Specialization in sewing uppers, however, would have disrupted the apprenticeship system as an orientationto the male worldof the artisanand to its work, ritualsand hierarchyof subordinationand dominance, as well as limiting the variousservicesapprenticesprovidedfor the masterandjourneymen.To use would not have solved the laborshortagein an expandingmarket,for apprentices in a few years apprentices would becomejourneymen, no longer availableto sew seams. Some more dependablesource of new labor was needed, one which the capitalistwould accept in the interests of expanded production,yet would not have to paywages or supervise.The utilizationof women in shoemakingfamilies was a solution that wouldavoid changesin the apprentice system, meet the needs of both capitalistand artisanand threatenno alterationin the traditional patterns of genderformation.The originsof the sexual division of laborin the shoemaking craft was a conscious decision made by artisans and accepted by merchant to capitalists expandproduction.


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Historiansof the New Englandshoe industryhave regardedthe recruitmentof female laborin the late eighteenth centuryas the naturalevolution or inevitable outgrowth of women's involvement in household work or as the fitting of an excess female populationin Essex Countyinto a workprocesswhichdrewon their The abilities as needleworkers.10 recruitmentof women in shoemakingfamilies was instead a carefullycontrolledassignmentof work designed to fit the role of women and to maintaingender relationshipsin the family, while preservingthe artisan training system in its social as well as its craft aspect. Women were recruitedto only a small partof the work, the sewingof the upperpartof the shoe, and and not to the craftitself. They were barredfrom apprenticeships groupwork and isolated from the center of artisanlife: the shoe shop. The artisanshop has come to be seen by historiansas the center of pre-industrial politicaland cultural life for New England shoemakers and the source of the ideology and consciousness which many regardas representingthe origins of the American workingclass.It was a worldof men and boys. of The introduction the sexual divisionof laborinto an artisancraftrepresented Workwas redefinedand relocated,new a majorchangein the mode of production. words were coined and new procedures devised for supervision. The work to assigned to women took on social meaningsappropriate their gender. Female family members adaptedtheir traditionalneedle skills to hand sew the leather uppersof shoes in their kitchenswithoutdisruptingtheirdomesticduties or their child care tasks. Needle work on leatheruppers,a relativelyclean partof the job, was accompaniedby a new tool designedexclusivelyfor women's work:the shoe clamp.The woman shoeworkerwould not have to straddlea shoemaker'sbench, but would use a long, flexible wooden clampwhich rested on the floor and which she held betweenher knees, holdingthe piecesof shoe uppertogetherand freeing her hands to ply her needle. Her workwas given a new name:shoebinding,which 1 becamea majorcategoryof women's workin the earlynineteenthcentury. Binders in shoemaking families earned no wages between the 1780s and the 1810s, but they did contributetheir laborto familyproductionand to the wage it commanded. The emergence of shoebinding testified to the adaptibilityand persistenceof women's labor in household production.At this time, women in workor barterto Essex County had few alternativesto hard,seasonalagricultural of add income to their families.The introduction the sexual division of laborinto an artisan craft was carefullycontrolled, guaranteeingthe subordinaterole of women by separatingthe work of shoebindingfrom any knowledgeof the other various skills of the craft and by maintainingseparatework places for men and of women.12These patternssurvived the transformation the industry into the factory system and, therefore, constituted a fundamentalsocial dimension of work. Although shoebindersworkedin their kitchenswhere domestictasksand child care continued, the artisanshop and its demandsfor work intruded.No work in the shop could proceedwithout a few pairsof sewn uppers.The binder'sworkin in her kitchenwas essentialto the timingand paceof production the shop, and she of had to keep aheadof the requirements the shop workerswith a readysupplyof sewn uppers.13Her kitchen was transformedinto a workplacewhere external demandsfrom the ten footer shapedher time and tasks. The collective natureof men's work in the shoe shop, the locus of artisanculture, supporteda militant of traditionof resistanceto the reorganization production.This traditiondid not mirrorthe experience of women workerswho had no craft status and did not share in the politicaland religious discussions in the shop. The relationshipof bindersto this traditionwas limited by their isolationfrom groupproductionand mediatedthroughtheirrole in the family.



There were, however, limits to the capacityof female membersof shoemaking families to fulfill the needs of the shoe shop for sewn uppers.Increasingnumbers of shoes per lot strainedthe family labor system. Around 1800, ten to fourteen pairsof shoes made up a unit of production.By 1820 fifty, sixty and seventy pairs per lot were common, as most capitalistshad organizedcutting operationsinto central shops. Because shoebindingwas typicallycombined with domestic work, the capacityof the binder who was both wife and mother to complete work on large lots had limits. In a pinch for more labor, shoemakersrecruitedthe wives and daughters of neighbors, but this required some kind of a payment.14 Graduallyafter 1810, shoebinding,while still performedin the home, shifted to workpaidfirst in goods (often factory-made textiles) and laterin wages, provided to the worker by the shoe boss, and increasinglydisassociatedfrom the family laborsystem.15 The surviving account books of storekeepersand shoe bosses in Essex and neighboring Middlesex Counties between 1810 and 1830 illustrate the slow development of what would become a widespreadpracticeof giving out work to shoebinderswho then returnedit to the centralshop before it was given out to the makers.16By the 1820s homework for women in textiles had shifted decisively into the factory, and those women who wished to contribute income to their families but who also needed or wanted to remainat home had few alternatives: outwork in straw and palm leaf hat making, sewing coats and shirts and, in increasingly Essex County, bindingshoes.17Accordingto calculationsbasedon the untitled stock book of one Lynn manufacturer (1830-1831), less than 20%of the work put-out by this shoe boss was given to shoemakersand their wives or daughtersto make and bind as a familyworkunit. The rest of the workwas given out in separatelots to individualshoemakers and shoebinderswhose work was coordinatedby the boss in the centralshop.18 had assumed much of the responsibilityfor By the 1830s shoe manufacturers hiringbindersfor wages and replacedhusbandsand fathersas employers.Even if her husband made shoes, a binder might work on uppersfor ladies' boots while her spouse made coarse work shoes for Southern slaves. This disassociationof women's work from the familylaborsystem affectedthe abilityof the shoemaker to coordinatethe workprocess.The shoe boss assumed responsibility only for not hiringfemale workers,often from non-shoemakingfamilies,but also directedand coordinatedthe work process from his centralshop. The shoemakerhad to wait, sometimes for hours, for the shoe boss to providehim with bound uppers.19The shift in the coordinationof the work of bindingand making to the central shop represented a decline in the power of artisans to exert control over the work process. The disassociation of shoebinding and shoemaking, the direct payment of wages to the binderand the increasingcontrolof women's work by the shoe boss made it essential for binders to organize themselves in order to protest against their employers.20Two outbreaks of early labor protest occurred in Eastern Massachusetts shoe towns in the early 1830s over persistent low wages for shoebindingdespite a risingmarketfor shoes. Although these women sought and receivedthe supportof organizedshoemakersespeciallyin Lynn, the shoebinders created separate societies to represent their interests and acted independently. They did not challengethe sexual division of labor,but saw themselves as women workersunjustlytreatedby their employersand organizedto demanda response to their grievances.They also attemptedto utilize the mechanics'ideolog in new ways to justify their protestand arguefor new rightsfor women.


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towns in Essex and Middlesex The shoebindersof Readingand the surrounding Counties formed a society of two to three hundredmembers in the summer of 1831 to protestlow wages and to obtain a uniformwage scale for bindingvarious kinds of work.The objectiveof the society was to encouragebindersto cooperate in resistingindividualwage bargains with their shoe bosses, so that inexperienced women would not "work for nothing and find themselves [furnish their labor free]." Five shoe bosses in the Reading area rejected the demands of the binders' society for increases in wages which they claimed had been customaryfor ten with maintainedthat ". . . we are unacquainted years. The shoe manufacturers this new mode of doing business, and firmlyprotestagainstit, but are willingto employ them [the bindersof the Readingsociety] on fairand honorableterms as heretofore."21Although nothing more was publishedabout the activitiesof the of Readingsociety, these shoebindersin 1831 were conscious of the vulnerability the individualwomanworkeroutside of the familylaborsystem. Drawingon their cultural identificationwith the dignity and independence of artisan life, they expressed expectationsof fairnessand good treatmentfrom the shoe bosses and were criticalof the unwillingnessof employersto share the profitsof a risingshoe market. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this early case of collective resistance by shoebinders was the ability of women workers living in different towns to establisha networkof protest. Two years latershoebindersin Lynn organizedmore resistance.By 1833 there were about 1,500 women in Lynn who earnedwages as shoebinders.A wage cut promptedover half of them to organizethe "Female Societyof Lynn and vicinity for the protectionand promotionof Female Industry."In their publicstatements, the shoebindersvoiced the mechanics'ideology, blendingit with expressions of their grievancesas wage earners and using it as a defense of the worth of their laboras female membersof artisanfamilies.Most important,however, was their claim to new rights:the right to publicaction as women and the right to support themselves respectablyand independentlyon their wages, independentlyin the to sense of makinga significantcontribution the familywageeconomy.22 The Lynn binders who organized the Female Society met at the Friends' noted, women as Meetinghouseon December30, 1833 where, as the LynnRecord well as men could speakfreely in public.They werejoined a few days laterby 125 binderswho met at the Methodistchurchin neighboringSaugusand adoptedthe same objectives, ideology and constitution.23In the preambleto the society's constitution, the Lynn binders pointed to ". .. a manifest error, a want of justice, and reasonablecompensationto the females; which calls imperiouslyfor redress.While the pricesof their labourhave been reduced,the business of their employershas appeared to be improving, and prosperous, enabling them to increase their wealth. Thesethingsoughtnot so to be!" Their demand for higher wageswas basedon the labortheoryof value. As workers,they believedthey were not earning a just compensation; their independence and respectability was threatened. Furthermore,this economic injustice enriched the shoe boss. This was a violationof the dignityof theirlaborand a "moraloutrage." To redresstheirgrievances,the shoebindersof Lynndemandedan extension of the equal rightsdoctrineof the artisantraditionto women. "Equal rightsshould be extended to all - to the weaker sex as well as the stronger." Many of the women who attended the society's first meeting on December 30, 1833, the preambleclaimed,either supportedthemselves or theirfamilieson theirearnings that as bindersand had become dependenton theirwagelabor.The disadvantages



women experienced "by nature and custom" should not be aggravated by "unnecessary and unjust" treatment as workers. The preambleexpressed the belief that ". .. women as well as men, have certaininalienablerights, among which is the right at all times of 'peaceablyassembling to consult upon the common good."' In this, the Lynn binderswere respondingto criticismthat they were forming a combination against the manufacturerswhich endangered the town's prosperity. They replied that the shoe bosses combined together themselves to hold down wages and to pay the bindersin store ordersfor goods. The women in the Lynn society equated their interests as workers with the interests of the community, regardingthe welfare of the town as consisting, ". .. not in the aggrandizement of a few individuals, but in the general and prosperity welfareof the industriousand laboringclasses." The preamblewent on to criticizethe recentreductionin wagesfor shoebinding which prevented them from obtaining "a comfortablesupport." This concept represented the shoebinders' claim to a just wage, a feminine version of the "competency"sought by artisans,an income sufficientto supporttheir families and permita little savings for old age.24However, in computingthe wage which would earn them theircomfortablesupport,the shoebindersused as a measurenot their work in production - but their duties and responsibilitiesas female members of artisan families. The shoebinders used their gender roles as the wives, daughtersand widows of New Englandmechanicsto insist upon a wage level that would confer dignity and independenceon them. They calculatedthe price of the household services that a wife performed as a seamstress, washwoman,nurse and maid and demandeda wage high enough to cover these expenses. By extending the analogyof wage work into their domestic sphere, the wives of mechanicswho bound shoes were bridgingover the gap between work and domesticity.For a daughter,wages should be high enough to cover room, board and personal upkeep so as not to constitute a drain upon her father's income nor induceher to leave home for factorywork.As for a mechanic'swidow with dependents, her wage level should ensure a livelihoodwithout the necessity of applyingto the town for poorrelief.25 To be effective the Lynn shoebinders' society had to organize all working women in the local industry,whatevertheir attachmentto the mechanic'sfamily or dependence on their earnings. However, the ideology which the society's members borrowedfrom the artisantraditionand which they reshapedto their experiences of gender hierarchy within the family betrayed a contradiction between their demands for equal rights for men and women workers and the calculations of a just wage for women. Equal rights for women as workers suggested the primacyof work; wages computed on the expenses of household services indicatedthat, in familyterms, domesticduties were primary women. for For the Lynn shoebinders,their gender role in the familyand in artisanideology transformed labortheoryof value into a measureof theirdomesticwork. the The artisanshoemakersof Lynn promptlyoffered their supportto the Female Society in early 1834, voting as a group to refuse to take work from any not manufacturer agreeingto the wagesdemandedby the binders.When the Lynn shoemakers had organized a Society of Journeymen Cordwainersin 1830 to defend the wages and privilegesof the craft, they regardedthe low wages paid to the shoebindersas an injuryto themselves as male heads of families. "Look and see how they [the shoe bosses] have depressed the price of female labor, and reduced it down to almost nothing! This has an effect on us as husbands, as fathers, and as brothers."26 They perceivedthe grievancesof the bindersstrictly in familyterms.


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The mechanics and the wives, daughters and widows of mechanics found cooperationeasy enough based on the sharingof culturaland work traditionsin the family, but the publicdemand of the bindersfor a wage sufficientto make a reasonablecontributionto familyincome and their use of the mechanics'ideology as theirjustificationwas an explicitclaimto new rightsfor women. The leadership of the society demanded a new moral role for women which involved public activityon behalf of new rights, and some of the leadersof the binders' society wouldcontinue this activityon behalfof publicmoralityin the LynnFemale AntiSlavery Society in 1836.27The shift of women's work out of the family labor In system had carriedwith it implicationsfor change in gender relationships. the typology of traditionalist,loyalist and rebel developed by Paul Faler and Alan Dawley, the shoebindersof Lynn and Saugusin 1834 were earlyrebels.They saw their interests as workers opposed to those of their employers and regarded collective action as the only means to secure accustomed living standardsand independence.28 They added, importantly, the dimension of gender to the expressionof theirconsciousnessas workers. By the summer of 1834 the Lynn shoebinders'society was in trouble; threefourths of its members were workingfor wages below the society's scale or had not paid their dues. One of the society's leaders, probably PresidentMaryA. the Russell, used the Lynn Recordof June 18 to urge the lagging membershipto become "a bandof sisters, each consideringthe welfareof the society as her own peculiarinterest." She referredto the example of ". . . that libertywhich other females have, that of setting their own pricesupon theirwork."In whatappeared to have been a reference to the March 1834 turnouts of the Lowell textile operatives, the writer urged a similar firmness and determination from the binders to become "equally free from oppression."Plans to divide work, share wages during dull times, start a manufacturing cooperativeand exhortationsto "think seriously,make exertions, be not discouraged" producedlittle response.29 The societyfell apartas the Readingsocietyhad in 1831. In her study of middle-classNew Englandwomen from 1780 to 1835, Nancy Cott analyzedthe emergence of women's sphere as a vocation based on gender after production and male workers had left the home. A cult of domesticity defined this sphere and encouragedthe development of a group consciousness with a positive social role expressed as sisterhood.Cott arguedthat this sense of sisterhood was a pre-condition to nineteenth century feminism.30 Working women in New England shoe production also experienced a sense of consciousnessas a gender, defined not only by domesticitybut also by theirwork for wages. Shoebindersdid not face a shift of productionout of the home, but an assignment of new work for women in the home and its intensificationin the outwork system. The sexual division of labor in shoe productionreinforcedthe idea of a separatesphere for women and provideda class basis for the cult of domesticity among working women. By the 1830's, however, the family labor system had given way to the employmentof women directlyby the shoe boss in the outworksystem. Sharingthe bonds of womanhoodboth in work and in their domestic sphere, shoebindersin 1834 triedto organizethemselves in terms of a female community of workers committed to self improvement and the improvement of society. Mary Russell actively sought to extend the idea of sisterhood as an organizingprinciple,but the shoebinders of Lynn could only respond hesitantly. The conditions under which many shoebinders labored isolatedfrom each other, employedby the shoe boss outside a grouplaborsystem and combiningwage workwith domesticresponsibilities- discouraged collective



activity. The tensions between their relationshipto the artisan system and its equal rights ideology and their subordinaterole as females in the family were exposed by theirargumentsfor a just wagefor women. Neither the socialrelations of the artisan family nor the realities of working as a woman for a shoe boss encouraged the shoebinder of Lynn to identify with her working sister in the Lowell mills or conceive of herself as a workercapableof supportingherselfwho could unite with her peersto protestmistreatment. The efforts of the Lynn Female Society had limited success in 1834. Payments in store orders were temporarily suspended, but wages for binding shoes never even approached wages offered to women workersin textile factories.Instead the of raisingwages to local shoebinders,shoe bosses in EasternMassachusettsbuilt networks of rural outworkers throughout the region extending into New Hampshireand Maine. By 1837, more women (15,366) were involved in shoe production in Massachusetts than female workers (14,759) in cotton textile factories.31 decline in the importance the shoemakingfamilyas a workunit The of left wives increasinglydependent on their shoemaker husbands for economic support. As the shoe bosses became more important to the coordination of production and the recruitment of binders, the relationship between the shoemakerand his employerchanged.The shoemakerwas regardedless and less as a middle-manin the recruitmentof outwork for the boss, who now ran the centralshop and directedthe work of both binderand maker.This change in the relationshipbetween shoeworkerand shoe boss plus the pressureon the family wage economy may be underlyingreasons for the outburstsof collective activity amongEssex Countyshoemakersin the 1840s. The decade of the 1840s represented a high point of activism among shoemakersin EasternMassachusetts,who organizedon a regionalbasisand held conventions with other working men and women. The Cordwainers'Mutual BenefitSocietyof Lynn beganto publisha laborpaper, TheAwl, in 1844 and tried to summon supportfor the society among women includingshoebinders.32 the In first issue of the Awlon July 17, 1844, the editorsdevelopeda constituencyand a set of objectives which limited and subordinatedwomen's relationshipto their organization.Oblivious to the implicationsfor women of the disassociationof shoebinding from the family labor system and into a vulnerableisolation from group work and artisanideology, the shoemakers'society in the 1840s perceived women as personswhose lives were definedprimarily familyand morality.The by origins of these attitudes may lie in the adjustmentof shoemakers to the new industrialmoralitydeveloping in Lynn as describedby Paul Faler or in the claim of Lynn women to the right to act publiclyon behalf of moralcauses such as the binders' society in 1834 and the anti-slavery society in 1936-38.33 Women's activities in local temperancegroups in Essex County and especiallyin Lynn in 1841-43 indicateda ferventdedicationby female membersof shoemakingfamilies to the total abstinence cause of the Washingtonian societies of Lynn. The Washingtoniansof Lynn were close to the cordwainer'ssociety and emphasized the special moral role of females and their dedicationto family interests.34 The editorsof the Awl vigorouslysought the supportof women, but the circumscribed position for women in the society offered most shoebinders no ideologicalor strategicfootholdwith whichto associatethemselves as workerswith the society. In the first issue, the cleareststatementof the aims of the society was contained in a draftcircularto "all brothersof the craft" throughoutNew England.35 The organizationwas seeking uniformwages for shoemakingin all New Englandshoe towns in orderto restorethe economicand socialstatusof shoemakersin a society


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which they perceivedas rapidly developinginvidiousclass distinctions.The denial of a competencyor reasonableincome which would supportan artisan'sfamily comfortablyand supply for old age threatened the equality and rights which freemen had won in the American Revolution. The society of cordwainerswas especiallysensitive to the decliningstatus of those whose only wealth lay in the useful pursuitof a trade.The Awlchampionedthe fundamentalvalues of manly laborand linked its interestswith all mechanicsand artisans,as well as with the female operativesin the textile mills of New England,andwith all workingpeople, male or female, free or slave, who could not live decently and respectablyin the economyof the 1840s. At a meeting of the society on June 29, 1844, the membersagreedto urge "the ladies" to lend their support and influence to the men's organization. Membershipin the society was, however, defined by craft.The sexual division of labor preventedwomen from becomingmembersby learningthe craft, although the societydid acceptas membersthreewomen trainedas cordwainers: Mrs.Eliza Tuttle and two female apprentices.36 appealfor the presence of the ladies at The the society's meetingsbecame a persistenttheme in the Awlduringits year and a half of publication.The presence of these ladies, like the membershipof Mrs. Tuttle, was to be used for its exemplaryand, more importantly,for its moral influence. These requests for women to attend the society's meetings every Saturdaynight at the Town Hall were predicatednot on their status as wageearnersor their work as shoebinders,but on their abilitiesas wives, mothersand sweethearts to persuade other shoemakers in Lynn to join.37 The economic interests of most women in the objectives of the society were assumed to be familial:by betteringthe wages of men - be they husbands, fathers or sons women's own interestswouldbe served. In the December 21 issue of the Awl, the editors published under the title, "Woman," a specialappealfor female supportwhich illustratedhow they viewed the natureof women and the limits this view placedon women's involvement in the activities of the society. Women were perceived as moral beings and were called upon to "hallow and enoble" the objectivesof the society. The appealto them was based on their capacityfor self-sacrifice.The editors sought to enlist their energies to serve the interestsof others; "the poor and down-trodden"and "her lovely sisters toiling . . . to gain a scanty subsistence."38Earlier,the Awl had reassuredwomen that it was as moralfor them to meet with the cordwainers every Saturdaynight as to attend church on Sunday. Indeed, their presence at The Awl regardedwomen's these meetings would guarantee their propriety.39 poweras moral,unselfishand spiritual,not as material,self-interestedor political. and These attitudesseemed to blind the cordwainers' society to the vulnerability isolationof shoebinders. was The appealof the Awlfor female participation deeplyambivalent.If women that were seen as essentiallymoraland spiritual,characteristics suggestedgentility and the pious, privatevirtues that historianshave identifiedas the cult of true womanhood, the ideology of the cordwainers' society pointedly rejected the values of the genteel, non-workingclasses who by their unearned wealth and leisured lives threatened the basic values of artisanculture. This side of their attitudestowardwomen revealeda fear of genteel or middle-classsocial behavior in femaleswithintheir own familieswhichwould unfit them for the useful life of a mechanic's wife. These attitudes are best illustrated in several moral tales publishedin the Awlwhichexplorethis issue.



from TheFamilyVisitor, entitled "OldFudge of an Uncle," One story, reprinted demonstratedthe triumphof a shoebinderover the "demon" of gentility.40 Mary Burchsteadwas the niece of Mr. Goodrich, a shoemaker who had rescued her from childhood poverty by teaching her to make her own living binding shoes. had to Since her marriage a sea captain,Mrs. Burchstead fallen victim to gentility, alteringat greatexpense the house which her husbandhad bought her, acquiring fine, new furnitureand placingher husbanddeeply in debt. At the beginningof the story, MaryBurchsteadpuzzles over why her uncle has sent her - a lady and shoes to bind, but feels ashamedover her ingratitude her neglectof relatives: "If wife would think?" shoes,what "But,"sheargued, a captain's bound people As she glances into her mirror, she finds that her displeasurehad marredthe beautywhichthe serenityfound in bindingshoes had once placedon her face: and of uncle next. Goodrich, expostulate, he willsenda bundle cowhide or, brogans I a or do wishtheoldmancouldknow littleof gentility, what to belongs it." Stung by the incivilityof her relatives, Maryvisits her uncle and aunt. She is told that her husband has mortgagedtheir house to pay for the alterationsand new furnishingsand that, because of a general business depression, the voyage he is on may bankrupthim. Maryblames herself and sets to work, spurns the visitors who look down their noses at her occupation, rents the house and sells the furniture.Her husband returns, overjoyedat his wife's change of heart and her of decisionswhich have clearedhim of debt. In admiration Mary'sdetermination, his employersays to him: not in Nowyoumaycongratulate but yourself, onlyforbeing goodcircumstances, for a herself,as I maysay, for she has defied having wifewho has daredto sacrifice shoes. by gentility binding This story was chosen by the editors of the Awlfor its criticismof the false social had values whichMaryBurchstead chosen over the virtuesof hardworkand plain living. Her gentilityas demonstratedby her rejectionof shoebindingas unfitting for a captain'swife was symptomaticof the growingclass divisions in American of life and a betrayal the equalrightsideologyof Lynnmechanics. In the February22, 1845 issue, the editors made their views more explicit by publishing an original story, "Charles-Do-Well," written by one of the Awl's frequent contributors,"Noggs." "Charles-Do-Well"is a moral tale set in Lynn about the contest between the social virtues of the mechanicand the false values of the merchantclass. The story begins as a young woman tries to decide whom she should marry: mother the pertthough said somewhat It is no usetalking Eliza handsome D I a asI amdeterminedwillneverno never marry mechanic. Eliza's fatherwas a merchant,and she believes that it is up to a daughterto "keep up the dignity of [her] father's house," by marryingin the same class. Her inclinationto marrya merchantis encouragednot by her kindly,sensible mother, but by the vapid SarahAmelia SudoraNorton who objects to her friend Eliza's visits with shoebindersand rejectsCharlesDo-Well, the shoemaker,because "he smells of wax so." On the other hand, Eliza thinks, as she pondersher decision,
Charles is handsome, well-informed and very interesting, even ". . . if he does "Mercy!"cried Mrs. Burchstead,"I look like a fright! . . . I must dress and call on

make shoes." Her other suitor is Mr. Cheatem, a merchantwho is receivedin all the best houses, but who has a reputationamong workingpeople as a liar and a "trickytrader."She wonders:


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Butsomehowor otherit seemsstrange me thata manbecause sellstapeand to he smallbeerandginger bread should anymorerespectable he who be than buckram,
makesshoes . . . !

Charleshas opened Eliza's eyes to the changingprospectsof the mechanicsof Lynn.He has told her thatthe: . . . timeswerefastaltering, things that werebeginning be calledby theirright to are he informed theyusedto be, now, than names; saysthecommon people better andthatit is beginning beconsidered disgrace geta living to no to honestly. this Thrillingly, vision of changeseems to includeEliza: Women he says,arebeginning be acknowledged responsible to as as too, creatures, who who with beings havesoulsaswellas hearts, wereborn equal theman,andwho and to and by everyright,human divine,areentitled a voicein our councils, are of for labors. recompense their deserving anequal In contrast,Elizareflectson Cheatem'sphilosophy: wanted makesucha d d fussabout to he the part didn'tsee whatthe reformers and folkes for. "niggers" thepoor Elizaobserves: Ohhowuglyhe didlook,as he withhissneering uttered above.I could the not laugh him takessideswith the Do-Well,who always helpcontrasting with the Charles oppressed... She is awakenedfrom her reveriesby her mother, and Elizaannouncesthat she is done withgirlishdreamingand thatshe is: . determined, to and for henceforth, be a woman, see if I can'tdo something a and living. I will go immediately join the "shoe binders'society of mutual to for and shoesmyself, I havecometo the improvement," whatis moreI mean bind that be of we conclusion ifwewould goodmembers society mustbe useful. SarahAmelia is horrifiedto find Elizabindingshoes and dropsher socially,saying she never did "keep companywith the workingclass," but Charles Do-Well is enchantedto find Elizabindingshoes and dares to hope that his influenceon her has produced her reformation.He has always thought that under her surface vanity and frivolitywas "stronggood sense." Some day, he believes, "she would dare be herself, a sensible, intelligent,usefulwoman." Eliza marriedCharlesand Cheatem.Six months later,SarahAmelia is a desertedwife SarahAmelia married with a child left in povertyby her unscrupuloushusband.She is wretchedwhen Elizacalls on her, but otherwisemuch improvedby her disastrousfate: to was She [Sarah Amelia] not nowashamed herself, bindshoes,ayewasthankful, and widow[?] to support thattherewasso respectable easywayfora poorstricken and herself herchild. Eliza's story was a vehicle for the social criticism implicit in the mechanics' ideology, but when Charlesexplains to her the new conceptionof woman as an equal partnerin the moral struggleagainstthe merchantclass, it becomes clear that the new fields opening to females are designed to permit them only to be of sensible, intelligentand, most of all, useful family members:the paradigm a mechanic's wife.41 "Noggs" portrayedshoebinding as essential for the useful woman. Ignoring the objective conditions of the shoebinders whose work, if respectable,was never easy, the writer regardedbinding shoes as appropriate, necessaryand even chasteningworkfor idle women. The useful womanis a much women of the more flatteringvision than the imagesof the shallow, materialistic genteel class, but it is neither self-interested nor does it spring from the
. . . thatsome peoplewere bornto be drawers water,and hewersof wood, for his of



aspirations or dilemmas of working women themselves. In contrast to the were the constantlaments in energeticappealsin the Awlfor female participation its pages over the lack of response to these appeals.However, the explanationfor this lackof responsemay lie less in the Awl'sambivalenceover woman's natureor its fearof genteel values lurkingwithinfemale membersand more in the failureof the cordwainers'society to offer a solution for the vulnerable position of the female outworkerin the structureof shoe manufacturing. The cordwainers'society claimed benefit to shoebinders who associatedwith the organization, but the advice offered by the society suggests that the cordwainers refused to confrontthe implicationsof the isolatedsituationof most shoebinders in comparisonwith the collective nature of their own work. The folklore of artisan life in the 1840s and 1850s reflected the growing tensions between the shoemakersand the shoe boss over the qualityof work turned into the central shop. Some shoe bosses treated their artisanswith careful courtesy, while others did not. Shoemakersexpressed resentmentagainsthard bosses like of ChristopherRobinsonof Lynnwho triedin the late 1840s to alterthe standards work. Attempts to limit supplies or inspect work still in the shop were stoutly of resisted.42 The cordwainers Essex County were better able than the individual shoebinderto resist attemptsby the shoe boss to controland disciplinethe work process. in In an earlyappealfor female participation the September11, 1844 issue, the shoebinders were exhorted by the editors of the Awl to come to the society's meetingsand identifyany shoe boss in Lynnwho hadcheatedwomen by the order by system. The ordersystem was an arrangement which wageswere paidin goods convenience for merchantsand shoes bosses and, ratherthan in cash, a profitable according to the Awl, one of the greatest evils of the system of production. Widows with dependents were urged to point out the manufacturers who discountedtheir wages by 10%if they insistedon cash. Name the boss, the appeal went on, so that the world will know him. The strategyof publiclyhumiliating shoe bosses by focusing the moralpowerof indignantwomen on their oppressors did not persuadeany shoebindersto come forward. In additionto this advice, one of the editors, E.C. Darlin, championeda Lynn binder whose wage accounts he had examined and who, he charged, had been cheated by shoe manufacturer, Nathan D. Chase.43 The case of Mrs. Jane Atherton illustratesthe futility of the Awl'sstrategyfor helping the shoebinders confronttheir employers.Darlinchargedthat Mrs. Athertonhad been defrauded by Chase when he did not make it clearto her, when she began bindingshoes for his firm in 1840, that the wageswere paid4 cents in cash or 5 cents in store orders. Although she played no direct role in the controversy, Mrs. Atherton had felt surprisedand disappointedat the differentialbetween cash and goods, and later thought the arrangementswere ratherhard, but worked for Chase for the next three years. Duringthe controversy,Chase insistedthat Mrs. Athertonhad never said she had been defrauded.Darlin pointedout the injusticesof the differential betweengoods and cash, whetherMrs. Athertonhad agreedto it or not. He noted that Mrs. Atherton had not known the wage terms until after she had begun to work and referredto her "weakness" in relationto the shoe boss, but failed to analyze how her vulnerabilityinfluenced her behavior during the controversy. Mrs. Atherton, whose husband was away from Lynn during early 1845, was horrifiedthat the Awlhadchosen her wage recordas the issue withwhich probably to attackthe practicesof the shoe bosses. Her chances for work as a binderwere whom she placatedwith contingent on the good will of the shoe manufacturers


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reticence and meekness during the interviews which she had with them. Interestingly,as the controversyover the treatmentof Mrs. Atherton developed between January4 and February22, shoebinders at last began to contribute letters and poetry to the Awl, but none of them even alluded to the Atherton case.44On the whole, the cordwainers' societyof Lynnreceivedlittle supportfrom shoebinders. Its ideology implied a limited and subordinated role for most women. Its strategy to threaten the shoe bosses with public shame made the individualshoebindereven less likelyto make an issue of mistreatment,fearinga on stratagemwhichwould focus the combinedangerof Lynn shoe manufacturers her and depriveher of work. In the 1840s and 1850s the number of women working as shoebinders in Massachusetts grew rapidly, and by 1855, 32,826 women were recorded as employed in the boot and shoe industryin comparisonwith 22,850 employedin cotton textiles.45The numberof women employedby Essex County shoe bosses grew from 7,027 in 1837 to 12,395 in 1855, an increase of 76%. By 1855 shoe in manufacturing Essex County had developed four major centers of outwork: Danvers and South Danvers, Haverhill (located near the New Hampshire boarder), Lynn and its neighbor Marblehead.These four centers of production accounted for 51% of all females in Massachusetts who worked in shoe who listed 11,021 women workersin 1855 production,and Lynn manufacturers had developed an extensive outwork system which reached beyond Eastern and into SouthernNew Hampshire Maine. Massachusetts Low wages, irregular employment and low productivity plagued both the shoebinder and the shoe boss in the outwork system. Bindingshoes was often characterized intensive periodsof effort over severalweeks' durationfollowed by by long periodsof no shoebindingat all. The accountbooks of John and CharlesP. Preston of Danvers (1824-1845) and of James P. Hutchinson also of Danvers (1846-1860) indicatethat the shoe bosses came to relyon a relativelysmallgroup of steady binders for most production, while employing a widespread and numerous group of casual binders whose work was conducted at irregular intervals.Account books from the 1840s also illustratea furtherdivision of labor within the tasks which the binders performedwhich limited their earnings. A woman might be assignedonly partof the workon uppers,for example, only the most poorlypaidworkof "closing" or sewing up side seams ratherthan "fitting" or seamingcloth linings into the upperwhich earnedbetterpay.The debit side of the account books revealed the continuationof the custom of "furnishing"by which the binderassumedthe costs of thread,needles and liningmaterial,thereby further reducingher wages.46Much of women's work on shoes continued to be conducted separatefrom the family laborsystem by the wives and daughtersof Work non-shoemakingfamilies:farmers,other artisans,marinersand laborers.47 had not yet left the home, but the home settingof women's workwas less and less and likelyto reverethe traditions values of the shoemakers'craft. With the invention of the sewing machine for leather in 1852 and the subsequent introductionof the factorysystem, the wages and the work available to shoebinders began to decline. But the adaptationof the sewing machine for cloth to stitch leather uppers did not immediatelyseparatehome and.work for shoebinders. Neither did mechanizationof women's work create a large scale factory system. Over the decade between 1855 and 1865, the process of shoe production slowly evolved toward the steam-powered factory, but the work production,includingthe sexual processretainedmany featuresof pre-industrial division of labor. John B. Nichols, who had succeeded in converting the I.M.



Singersewing machineto stitch light leather,went to Lynn in 1852 in the employ of Singerwho had sold exclusive rightsto lease his new machinesin Essex County Nichols organized stitching rooms for them and to three Lynn manufacturers. instructed young women in the use of the leather sewing machine. By 1855 several other sewingmachinecompanies:Grover& Baker,Wheeler& Wilsonand Nichols & Bliss, were producing and selling machines for work on leather uppers.48Shoebinding as women's needle work in the home seemed to face oblivion. In the shoe centers of Lynn and Haverhill,the shoebindersorganizedto resist the introductionof the machines. A.S. Moore, one of Singer's agents in Essex County and the employer of machine operativesin Lynn, faced a committee of angry bindersin 1852 who tried to pressureMoore and the women operativesto abandon the machines. In Haverhill shoebinders and shoemakers expressed bitternessat IsaacHardingwho had broughtthe first stitchingmachinesinto town in 1853. Some of the women shook their fists in the face of Daniel Goodrich, Harding'spartner.The binderswere convinced that the machine would destroy their work. Many must have realizedthat centralizedmachine operationswould force them to choose between their domestic duties and their ability to earn wages. Contributing to their distress was their unfamiliaritywith the sewing machinefor cloth. The marketingstrategyof the earlysewingmachinecompanies concentratedon the use of the machines for the manufactureof clothing and shoes, ignoringthe potentialthey would later realize in the domestic marketfor family sewing. SeveralexperiencedHaverhillbinderswho workedfor the firm of Sawyer & Wheeler tried the new machines without success and gave up in despair.49 Although the binders were correct to fear mechanization, the system of household productionaccommodateditself to the introduction of the leather stitchingmachine.Not all work on upperswas mechanized.Suspicionsregarding customer acceptance of machine stitched shoes somewhat retarded mechanization.But if hand work was still availablein the home, the wages for of shoebindingfell rapidlyas the productivity machinework rose and laborcosts declined. In 1860 the piece rate for machinesewing was estimatedat one quarter the priceof hand work, while the operativeearned nearlythree times as much as the binder.50 shoebinderfacedan uncertainfuture, workingmore intensively The if she could obtain the workand at a severe wage reduction.Some bindersrented or purchasedleatherstitchingmachineswith hand cranksor foot treadlesfor use at home. Estimatesdifferon the extent of home use of stitchingmachines.They were expensive; in the mid-1850sthe pricerangedbetween$75 to $125. The most widespreaduse of home operatedmachineswas apparentlyin Lynn, Salem and rentedmachinesto be used at home. Home use where manufacturers Marblehead of a machine allowed women workers to continue to combine domestic duties with wage work and escape the discipline and long hours of centralized production.51Until the introduction of steam power and the invention of a peggingmachine to mechanizethe work of shoemakers,followed in 1862 by the McKaystitcher, home operationsby foot powerprovidedwork for manywomen in theirhomes. centralizedstitching operationsby adding a Some of the shoe manufacturers story to central shops where the leather was cut out or had two story buildings constructedto contain the activitiesof the centralshop on the ground floor and the stitchingroom on the second floor. Stitchingwas also sub-contracted the by central shop owners to shops like that of John B. Nichols of Lynn which


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specialized in stitching uppers.52The pre-industrial isolation of the female shoeworkerfrom other operationsin productionwas therebymaintaineddespite centralization. The work force in these little shops of thirtyto fifty workerswere women who left their homes to workall day at "girls," that is, young, unmarried stitching machines. The Lynn News estimated in 1855 that there were 1,500 to 1,800 sewing machines in operationand that most of them were run in shops by young women who earned an average weekly wage of about $6.00.53Many of these young women were members of local families, but by 1860 a sizeable portionof them had left their homes in the towns of EasternMassachusetts,New Hampshire,Maine and the MaritimeProvincesof Canadato boardwith families in Lynn and Haverhilland work for the attractivewages in the shoe shops. In the 1850s native-born, young New Englandwomen were abandoningwork in the textile mills in the Merrimack Valley for employmentin the shoe shops of Essex County.54 The depressionyears of the late 1850s createda crisis in the rapidlychanging New Englandshoe industry.The crisis involved a collapse in the pre-industrial wage patterns of the family economy as shoe manufacturingmoved toward mechanization, centralization and the factory system. In the early 1850s an expanding market for boots and shoes in the developing West had drawn additionalmale workersinto the processof bottoming:the attachmentby handof machine or hand-sewn uppers to soles. Heeling and finishing operationswere and performedseparatelyalong with cuttingoperationsin the central reorganized towns of Essex Countyserved by a shops. Groupsof workmenin the surrounding networkof teamstersbottomedshoes for Lynn and Haverhillshoe bosses, but an even more extensive ruraloutworksystem, reachinginto CentralNew Hampshire and SouthernMaine and served by railroad,suppliedadditionalmale workersfor bottoming.55 Machine productivityby female factoryoperatives increasedthe demand for bottomers, and Irish and German immigrantsas well as migrants from New England came to the shoe towns of Massachusetts, crowding the local labor market. While the numbers of men who worked as bottomers increased, stimulatedby machine productivity,the sex ratio of male to female shoeworker sharply reversed. The numbers of women employed in Massachusetts shoe productiondroppedoff steadily in the 1850s. In Lynn the number of females employed on shoes shrank sharply by 41% between 1850 and 1860. The mechanizationof women's work intensifiedthe hardconditionsof laborfor both men and women involved in outwork in Essex County. The productivityof the new machine stitchers had stimulatedthe demand for bottomers, while cutting the demand for shoebinders.By contemporary estimates, one factorygirl at her stitching machine could supply enough work for twenty bottomers, while replacingeleven binders. The woman who operateda sewing machine at home still faced the custom of "furnishing," that is, providingthread, needles and lining materials.A considerablegap developed after 1855 between the wages of factoryoperativesand the wages of women workingat home whetherby hand or by machine.56 Downwardpressureon wages duringthe hardtimes after 1857 cut sharplyinto the shoemaker's family wage and helped precipitate the largest American of demonstration laborprotestpriorto the Civil War.A regionalstrike, beginning in February1860 and spearheadedby activities in Natick and Lynn, disrupted production.57The values and patterns of the pre-industrialfamily economy confrontedthe emergingfactorysystem. This confrontationdivided not only the



workersand their employers,but also divided the strikersinto groups promoting the family wage economy through the artisan tradition and groups of female factory operatives whose place in centralized productionand whose status as residentsof the shoe city createda differentset of interestsin the 1860 temporary strike. The strikers in Lynn, led by the bottomers, hoped to organize the country shoemakers to refuse outwork, while they simultaneouslyhalted productionin the Lynn shops. Important to this strategy was the interruption of teamster activities which carried sewn uppers and cut soles to country workshops. Significantly,the first serious conflict in Lynn involved express teams which carried shoe uppers machine-sewn by female factory workers to Marblehead bottomersfor the John WooldredgeCompany.58 Wooldredgehad pioneeredboth the adoptionof the Singersewing machinein 1852 and the introductionof steam power in 1858 for heeling and stitching operations. His firm symbolized the emergingfactorysystem. The strike leadershipin Lynn had been considering the organizationof the 3,000 shoebinders and stitchers as an auxiliaryforce to encourage community support and boycott uncooperative shoe bosses. Their decision to organize women workerswas made aftera violent incidenton February betweenstrikers 23 and expressmen which provoked widespread regional criticism in the press, the precipitated arrivalof outside police forces and threatenedto underminethe crucialsupportof shoemakersin the neighboringtowns of Essex County for the In strike.59 1860 the Lynn strikecommittee attemptedto utilize the moralstature of women for the same family and community purposes as had the Lynn cordwainers'society in the 1840s. Women's participation would restore morality to the strike, help generate community support in Lynn and throughoutEssex County and mitigatecriticism.The involvement of local women would erase the images of violence and disorder and emphasize the nature of the strike as a defense of the New Englandfamily. The strike committee in Lynn was not, however, preparedto acknowledgeor represent the interests of the female factory operatives whose leaders quickly seized control of the women's meetings. The interestsof these women workers, who were nearly40%of the female work force in Lynn by 1860, conflictedwith artisanconceptionof the familywageeconomy.60 The factoryoperativesdisagreed with the advancementof the wages of male shoeworkersas the only objectivein the strikeand convincedthe women workersof Lynn to strikefor higherwagesas binders and stitchers. They also began to organize women workers in the neighboringtowns of Danvers, Newburyportand Marblehead.61 Realizing the importanceof their strategicposition to stop work in centralizedproduction,the factorygirls in Lynn proposeda coalitionwith female homeworkersto raisewages in both categoriesof work:homeworkfor wives and mothersand factoryworkfor a single girls.This allianceof genderrepresented bridgebetweenthe pre-industrial patternsof women's work and the developingfactorysystem. Unity as a gender would protectthe wages of the marriedand the unmarried,the homeworkersand the the shop girls, by linkindg cause of workingwomen to the new sourcesof wages and power in factorywork. Mechanizationand centralizationof women's work had meant higherwages for factoryworkers,but reducedthe numbersof women employed, relegatedwives and mothersto homeworkand depressedthe wages of outworkers. For homeworkers, an alliance with the young factory girls representeda realchance in 1860 for women workingat home to make a valuable connection with the new industrial workers. In return, factory girls could


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anticipatemarriageand a chance to work at home for decent wages. The family wage economy would be protected by a coalition of women workers acting togetheron behalfof theirown interests. The factory girls, led by twenty-one year old Clara Brown, a native of Massachusetts, who boarded in Lynn with a shoemaker's family, won several crucial votes on raising women's wages in the strike meetings held by Lynn women. They challengedthe male strike committee for leadershipof the women workersand to articulation theirinterests.The factorygirlsidentifiedwith other of women in the industryas workersand as a gender, not unlike the brothersof the craft. The ideology of artisan life did not figure in their vision of an alliance of women workers at home and in the shops, nor did they identify with the bottomerson familialor on ideologicalgrounds.Consciousof the powerof factory stitchers in this alliance whose productivitycould shut down productionin the industryand halt outwork, ClaraBrowndeclared:"Girls of Lynn, . . .strike at once . . . Don't workyour machines;let them lie still untilwe get all we ask." At a latermeetingshe challenged:". . . we've got the bosses wherewe can do as we pleasewith 'em. If we don't take the work,whatcan the bosses do?"62 The male strike committee quickly moved to oppose this unwelcome development.The committee membersfailed, however, to persuadethe women at a meeting on February28 to reconsiderthe list of wage demands which had been adopted the night before, a wage list which in the eyes of the striking shoemakersovervaluedfactorystitchingandjeopardizedhomework.They feared that if the women's wages were raised,all stitchingof upperswould be centralized in factoriesand homeworkeliminated.For the bottomers,the best protectionfor the family wage lay in obtaininghigher wages for men's work and maintaining homeworkfor women. In a bold move, the strike committee and its supporters among the women homeworkersignored the high wage list adopted by votes taken at several of the women's meetings and substituteda lower list of wages which they circulatedas the officialwage list for the women workersof Lynn to sign.63On March2 the supportersof the men's strikecommittee and the factory girls confrontedeach other at a tumultuousmeeting. James Dillon, representing the bottomers, pleadedfor the supportof the women as wives and mothers of shoemakersand appealedto them not to alienatethe bosses of the stitchingshops Otherspeakersdismissedthe shop by demandingan "unfair"increasein wages.64 girls as interested only in money and in "the right to switch a long-tailedskirt [extravagantdress]."65Wage decisions, it was argued at the March 2 meeting, should be made by "sober, and discreet women" and not by "laughing" and "thoughtlessgirls."66ClaraBrowncounteredby insisting that the machinegirls of Lynn had the power to protecthomeworkers,but that the factorygirls would only strikefor "somethingworth having." She pointedout that the low wage list preparedby the homeworkersactuallycut wages on factory work. Despite her of warnings,representatives the bottomers'committeepersuadedthe majorityof the women at the meeting to rejectthe high wage list and the factorygirls, accept their recommendations behalf of the familyand communityin Lynn andjoin on the strikingmen in greatshow of communitysupportfor the strike.67 The legendaryparadeof strikingwomen on a snowy March day through the streets of Lynn representeda great victory for the defenders of decentralized productionand for the artisan traditionin Lynn. The images of the women's have come processionprintedin the pages of FrankLeslie'sIllustrated Newspaper to epitomize the involvement of women in the 1860 strike, but these sketches obscuredthe battle which took place over the relationshipof women workersto



the strike.The politicalstance of the majority the women workerswho rejected of the strategyof the factorygirls and supportedthe bottomerswas reflectedin the familialvalues on one of theirbanners: in in Weak physical but we for courage, dareto battle theright, strength strong moral with shoulder shoulder ourfathers, to husbands brothers.68 and The decision of the homeworkersto support the men's strike committee was of taken at the riskof ignoringthe implications mechanization,the factorysystem and the potential of the shop girls who, as workers in centralizedproduction, represented the reorganizationof industriallife in Lynn. Many Lynn women continuedto supportthe bottomersuntil the strikeslowly fell apartin late March, while the factorygirlswho boardedin Lynnreturnedto workor to their homes.69 The bottomers of Lynn had fought in 1860 to maintain the traditions and ideology of decentralizedproduction,includingwomen's work in the home. The artisanideologyhad operatedsuccessfullyto unite the heterogeneouswork force of male workers - rural migrants, Irish, Germans and shoemakers in country shops and shoe towns - in the 1850s, but cut off the new female factoryworkers from contributing to labor protest. The leaders of the Lynn strike failed to perceive or respond to the strategic potential of female machine operators in centralizedproductionand had ignored and opposed their articulatedinterests. The perceptionswhich shoemaking artisanshad developed of work and gender made it difficult for them to regardwomen as fellow-workersoutside of family relationships,to include them in the ideology and politicsbuilt on artisanlife or see in the experienceof workingwomen whatawaitedall workersas capitalismin the New Englandshoe industrymoved towardthe factorysystem. in Historiography the 1970s on women's workwas dominatedby a lively debate on the impactof economic change on women and their relationshipto the family. Two major interpretations emerged. Joan Scott, Louise Tilly, Jane Humphries and Leslie Tentler emphasized the limitationsof changes in women's lives as a and the result of industrialization, they regarded familyas primary definingthe in work and social roles of women employed at home or in the factory. Edward Shorter, PatriciaBranca,Thomas Dublin and Heidi Hartmannhave arguedfor a variety of levels of change in women's lives as a result of new work. All acknowledgethe sexual division of laboras a fundamentalconditionof women's workin the nineteenthcentury. This overview of changes in women's work in New Englandshoe production and the relationshipof women shoeworkersto the artisantraditionsuggests that tension between women workers and the family values of artisan culture remained constant and unresolved as work reorganizedduring the shift toward from 1780 to 1860. Contradictionsbetween perceptionsof the industrialization propergender role for women in the familyand theirconsciousnessas workersin productionprolonged these tensions for women workers into the early factory system and the 1860 strike. This struggle, most visible duringmoments of labor protest, had been initiated by the recruitmentof women into productionin the artisansystem and maintainedby the differencesin the location of workand the exposure of the individualworkerto the increasingcontrolof the workprocessby the employer.For the most part,women shoeworkersnegotiatedthose tensions between familyand workwithin the value system of artisanideology, but in doing so they built limits into their consciousnessas workersand into their abilityto act together as women to defend their interests or claim new rights. The gender


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perceptions of artisan ideology as articulated by male shoeworkers in ante bellum New England defined the role of women primarily as family members and as moral agents in society. Gender-based ideology and work experience cut women off from the most vital tradition of collective resistance in the early nineteenth century. Universityof Lowell Mary H. Blewett

FOOTNOTES I would like to thankHelenaWright,Tom Dublin, MiltonCantor,CaroleTurbin,PaulFaler and Bruce Lauriefor their useful suggestions, helpful criticismand supportas this essay developed. The researchand writingwere aided by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. An earlier and shorter version of this paper was read at the Social Science History Association Conference, November 1982. 1. Edward Thompson, TheMaking theEnglishWorking P. Class(New York, 1966);David of Brody, "The Old LaborHistoryand The New: In Searchof an AmericanWorkingClass," Labor History 20 (1979): 111-126; Herbert Gutman, Work, Culture and Society in America Classesof the (New York, 1976);DavidMontgomery,"The Working Industrializing American City, 1780-1830," LaborHistory9 (1968): 3-22; Paul G. Faler, Pre-Industrial 1780in Revolution: Mechanics Manufacturers the EarlyIndustrial and Lynn,Massachusetts, The in 1860 (Albany, 1981); Alan Dawley, Classand Community: Industrial Revolution Lynn (Cambridge, 1976); Bruce Laurie, The WorkingPeople of Philadelphia, 1800-1850 (Philadelphia, 1980); Susan E. Hirsch, Roots of the American WorkingClass: The IndustrializationNewark,1800-1860(Philadelphia, 1978) and HowardB. Rock, Artisans of of theNewRepublic: Tradesmen New York in theAgeof Jefferson The (New York, 1979). City of For overviews, see Sean Wilentz, "Artisan Origins of the American Working Class," Laborand Working Class History.19 (1981): 1-22 and Jim Green, "Culture, International in 16 Politicsand Workers'Response to Industrialization the U.S." RadicalAmerica (Jan.April, 1982): 101-128.BruceLaurieprovideda succinctdefinitionof the new conceptionof class consciousness:". .. cultureand consciousnessare madeand remadeby the interplay of living and working conditions and by what individuals bring to communities and workshopsfrom priorexperience," p. 27. Laurie,however, refrainedfrom examiningthe Philadelphia despite experienceof women's involvementin workerculturein pre-industrial in the evidence he located on their participation work, temperancegroups and religious activities, pp. 12-13, 30-34, 43, 49-51. Hirsch explored women's involvement in preindustrialwork in Newark and its connectionswith family life, but she viewed the male of artisanas the typicalworkerand the industrialization male craftsas the touch-stoneof economicchangefrom 1800-1860.Her definitionof statusincludedethnicitybut not gender. from In theirreviewarticles,WilentzandGreencallfor moreworkon earlyindustrialization in of the perspective rearrangements genderrelationsas well as the relationsof production. My research on women's relationship to the pre-industrialartisan tradition has been influenced by a workshopon "Family History:A Critique," at the Women and Power Conference,Universityof Maryland,1977, laterpublishedas RaynaRapp,Ellen Ross and 5 Studies (Spring,1979):174-200; RenateBridenthal, FamilyHistory,"Feminist "Examining by the work of Thomas Dublin on the Lowell textile operativesand by the work of Heidi Hartmann,especially"The Familyas the Locus of Gender, Class, and PoliticalStruggle," Signs6 (Spring,1981):366-394. and in The At 2. Thomas Dublin, Women Work: Transformation Work Community Lowell, of 1826-1860(New York, 1979). Massachusetts,



3. Faler, Mechanics, chapter3, 9 and Dawley, ClassandCommunity, passim.For a critiqueof Faler and Dawley, see FriedrichLenger, "Class, Cultureand Class Consciousnessin Ante 6 of BellumLynn:A Critique AlanDawleyandPaulFaler,"SocialHistory (1981):317-332. 4. Mary Blewett, "Shared But Different: The Experience of Women Workers in the Nineteenth CenturyWork Force of the New EnglandShoe Industry,"in Essaysfromthe Lowell on 1980and 1981(Lowell, 1981):77-85. Conference Industrial History, 5. Faler, Mechanics, 11-12. For the patternsof pre-industrial pp. shoemakingin Eastern Massachusetts, Blanche Hazard, The Organizationof the Boot and Shoe Industryin Massachusetts Before1875 (Cambridge,1921); David NewhallJohnson, Sketches Lynnor of theChanges FiftyYears of (Lynn, 1880)andJohnPhilipHall, "The Gentle Craft:A Narrative of YankeeShoemakers,"(Ph.D. diss., ColumbiaUniversity,1953). 6. Alonzo LewisandJamesR. Newhall,History Lynn(Boston, 1865):50-65. of 7. John R. Commons, "American Shoemaking, 1648-1895: A Sketch of Industrial 24 Journal Economics (1909):39-83. Commonspointedlydismissed Evolution," Quarterly of Marxiananalysisof changesin the mode of production ignoredthe introduction the and of sexual division of labor. Dawley, Class and Community chapter 1 and Faler, Mechanics, chapter2. 8. Dawley,ClassandCommunity, 16-25. pp. 9. Johnson,Sketches Lynn,pp.336-340;Hazard,BootandShoeIndustry, 4-53; Dawley, of pp. Class and Community 16-25; Philip C. Swett, "History of Shoemakingin Haverhill," pp. WilliamStone, "Lynn and Its Old-TimeShoemakers'Shops," unpublishedreminiscences; (1900):49-100;Hall, "The Gentle Craft,"pp.49-145;Helen Register, LynnHistorical Society L. Sumner, History Women Industry the United in in on of States,vol. 9 ofReport Condition of Womanand Child Wage-Earners the UnitedStates (Washington,D.C., 1910): 167-170; in Edith Abbott, "Women In Industry:The Manufactureof Boots and Shoes," American Journal Sociology (1909):335-360.In his discussionof Philadelphia 15 of shoemaking,Laurie arguedthat the division of labordid not uniformlyreduce craftwork to semi-skilledjobs, but createda new hierarchy occupations the bottomof whichwas shoebinding,p. 22. of at 10. Dawley noted, but does explain the origins of the involvement of women in shoe of production,pp. 17-18.Falerdiscussedthe importance the assignmentof work to women in shoemaking,pp. 19-27, but he moved too fast in his argumentto speculateon the social dynamicsof this decision within the shoemakingfamily.In attemptingto accountfor the origins of the sexual division of labor (a term which he does not employ), Faler used a circular in argument,statingthatalthoughwomen did not participate shoemakingbeforethe ". 1780s,the basisof theirinvolvementin production .. was an outgrowthof the domestic system of manufacturein which the entire family of a cordwainer,workingin the home in participated the productiveprocess," p. 24. He cited the "muted growth" of powerful craftcustomsin Lynnin comparison with Philadelphia explainthe recruitment women, to of but did not explainwhy women were recruitedonly to bindingand were not admittedinto the shoe shop, p. 24. Falercited evidenceon the surplusof femalesin Essex County, 1790to 1810, as a labor pool for the ladies' shoe industry,but noted that these women probably resided in non-shoemakingfamilies of seafarersand fishermen, p. 25. This surplus of females in Essex County would indeed be tappedby shoe bosses, but not until afterthe Falersaw no implications shoemakingfamilyceasedto be the locus of combinedproduction. for the mechanics'ideologyor the artisancommunityin the physical socialseparation and of the workplaces shoebindersand shoemakers,althoughhe did identifythe beginningsof of class division in a similarseparationbetween the workplaces the journeymenin the ten of footer and the master,laterthe shoe boss, in the centralshop, pp.23, 27, 167.On the whole, the of althoughhe acknowledged importance the divisionof labor,Falerassumedthatthere were no importantchanges in women's work until mechanizationin 1852. Anna Davin


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discussedthe neglectof the sexualdivisionof laboras bothan objectof studyandas a tool of and History SocialistTheory, Raphael analysisin "Feminismand LabourHistory," People's Samuel, editor (London, 1981): 178. For two discussionsof the involvementof the sexual divisionof laborin the femaleexperienceof workand laborprotest,see LouiseTilly, "Paths of of Proletarianization: Organization Production,Sexual Division of Laborand Women's Collective Action," Signs 7 (Winter, 1981): 400-417 and Temma Kaplan, "Female Consciousnessand Collective Action:The Case of Barcelona,1910-1918,"Signs7 (1982): 545-566. 11. On mechanization,the sexual division of laborand the social uses of technology,see Judith A. McGraw,"Women and the Historyof AmericanTechnology," Signs7 (1982): 798-828. For a general interpretation of the sexual division of labor and capitalist in Historyof Women America(New York, development, Julie A. Matthaei,An Economic 1982). 12. In her studyof Frenchwomen and the artisansystemof production sixteenthcentury in Lyon, Natalie Zemon Davis argued that the work identity of female workers was subordinatedto their gender roles in the family, "Women in the Crafts in Sixteenth8 of Studies (1982): 45-80. For the separation men and women in CenturyLyon," Feminist the artisanexperience of London, Gareth Stedman-Jones,"Working-Class Culture and Notes on the Remakingof a Working Politicsin London, 1870-1900; Class," Working-Class 7 Journal SocialHistory (1974):485, and SallyAlexander,"Women'sWorkin Nineteenth of CenturyLondon:A Studyof the Years 1820-1850,"in JulietMitchelland Ann Oakley, The and (New York, 1976):59-111. of Rights Wrongs Women, 13. For a compellingimage of the familylaborsystem, see Johnson, Sketches Lynn,pp. of 337-338.In a critiqueof E.P.Thompson'sconceptof taskand time labor,Lise Vogel pointed but to the necessity of combining both task and time labor in a pre-industrial capitalist productive system. The shoebinders' work, even as a contribution of unwaged labor character, performedin their kitchens, began to assume a timed and, therefore,industrial "Rummaging Through the Primitive Past: A Note on Family, Industrialization,and and in (Nov. 1976): 19-26. History Papers Family Community Capitalism,"TheNewberry 14. For example, see the correspondencebetween William Richardson,a shoe boss of with shoemakers,Jesse Reed of New Ipswich,New Hampshire Stoneham, Massachusetts, Harvard Richardson and WilliamCooke of Bedford,Massachusetts, Papers,BakerLibrary, University. 15. The accounts of Israel Buffum (1806-1847) and Aaron Breed (1805-1817) Lynn Mrs.C. Historical Society.JohnGoodwinAccounts(1810-1834)of Reading,Massachusetts, Nelson Bishop,Reading. 16. Among the accountbooks which illustratethe shift of binders'work out of the family laborsystem are JonathanBoyce (1793-1813)Lynn Historical Society;John Burrell(18191820) Lynn HistoricalSociety; Samuel BachellerPapers (1795-1845) Vol. 2, Sturbridge Village Archives; Untitled Ledger, Lynn (1790-1820) Lynn Historical Society; James Coburn, Boxford (1804-1821); Robert Brown, West Newburyport (1813-1828); Caleb VillageArchives. Eames,Wilmington(1819-1825)Sturbridge Historical 17. Percy Bidwell, "The AgriculturalRevolution in New England," American Review25 (1921): 685-702. For statistics on the putting-out system in Essex County, to in Relative theManufacturers the United States, 1832 Secretaryof the Treasury,Documents (Reprint, New York, 1969), Vol. 2, pp. 590-610 and Commonwealthof Massachusetts, in Branches Industry Massachusetts, theyear for Statistical of Relatingto Certain Information 1837 (Boston, 1837). For a quantitative analysis of the early Massachusettscensuses, in ClaudiaGoldin and Kenneth Sokoloff, "Women, Children, and Industrialization the 42 Censuses,"Journal Economic of Evidencefrom the Manufacturing History EarlyRepublic: (1982):741-774.



18. Unidentified Shoe Manufacturer'sStock Book, Lynn (1830-1831) Lynn Historical Society.Basedon the figuresof cut stock given out to workersin March1830and in March was of 1831, the annualproduction this shoe manufacturer about 30,000 pairsin 1830 and 70,000 pairsin 1831. Accordingto the 1832 reportof the Treasuryor the McLaneReport, only the eleven largest shoe manufacturersin Lynn had this capacity for production. to Documents 1832,Vol. 1, pp.224-235. Relating Manufacturers, 19. See the Journalof Joseph P. Lye, Jr. of Lynn (1819-1830)Lynn Historical Societyand the Diaries of Isaac W. Merrill of Haverhill (1828-1878) HaverhillPublic Library.For worker control as crucial to class struggle in nineteenth century America, David in Control America 1976). (Cambridge, Montgomery,Workers' collectiveresistanceby shoebinders 20. In the early 1830stherewas evidenceof widespread as New YorkCity in Essex and MiddlesexCountiesin Massachusetts well as in Philadelphia, in Unions and Newark.JohnB. Andrewsand W.D.P.Bliss, History Women Trade of (Reprint, in New York, 1974): 41-45 and Augusta Emile Galster, The LaborMovement the Shoe to With (New York, 1924):22-28. Hirschin Rootsof SpecialReference Philadelphia Industry: Classnoted shoebinders'activityin Newarkin 1836and observedthat theAmerican Working "[t]he existence of a separateunion for women . . . suggests that the days of domestic manufacture were long gone in shoemaking.The women bindersand fitters hired out as individuals and were not wives and daughters helping craftsmen who worked within households," pp. 28-29. See also, Keith Melder, "Women in the Shoe Industry:The 115 Historical Collections (1979):272-273. EvidenceFromLynn," EssexInstitute Herald(printedbrieflyin Boston under this Christian 21. The issues of The New England name, later Zion'sHerald)are lost for 1831, but Hall quoted from them at length in his Herald,the binders'society dissertation,pp. 152-154.In the August 12 issue of the Christian challenged the figures of the shoe bosses, criticized payment in goods and insisted it 227 See Aug. 6, 1831. represented shoebinders. also the LynnMirror, 22. "Preamble to the Constitution of the Female Society of Lynn and vicinity for the and January1, 1834and "Address protection promotionof Female Industry,"LynnRecord, of the Shoebindersof Lynn" by ChairmanMary Russell, LynnRecord,Jan. 8, 1834. All in quotes are from the LynnRecord.Andrewsand Bliss, Women TradeUnions,quoted the Constitutionof the FemaleSociety,but not the preamble,pp.42-43. in 23. Based on the 1837 statisticsof manufacturing Massachusetts, women of Saugus the who met to affiliatewith the Lynn Society representedalmost the entire work force of bindersin town. 24. Faler,Mechanics, 172-173. pp. 25. "Address," LynnRecord,Jan. 8, 1834. The associationof fear and shame with the describedby Faler, moralityskillfully poorhousewas one of the productsof a new industrial Mechanics, 110-116. pp. 26. Faler mistakenlydated the Female Society as organizedin 1830, p. 198. Althoughthe cordwainerslisted the low wages of shoebindersin the 1830 grievancesas a society, the Female Society did not appearuntil 1833 under its own leadership,LynnMirror, Aug. 14, of Sept.4, 1830.Althoughthe leadership the Lynnsocietiesdid not representan association of familyor kin, the two groupsworkedtogethercloselyin 1834. 27. LynnFemaleAnti-Slavery Society,Minutes, 1836-1838,LynnHistorical Society. 28. In this typologydevelopedby Dawleyand Falerin "WorkingClassCultureand Politics in the Industrial Revolution:Sourcesof Loyalismand Rebellion,"Journal SocialHistory 9 of (1976): 466-471, gender was not explored. Lenger, "Class, Culture and Class Consciousness,"is criticalof Dawleyand Faler'stypology,but not on gender analysis,pp. 325-329.


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29. LynnRecord,June 18, 1834. MaryRussell greatlyexaggeratedthe results of the 1834 Lowellturnoutswhichfailedto preventa wagecut or even createan organization suchas the binders'societyin Lynn, Dublin, Women Work, 89-98. At pp. 30. NancyF. Cott, TheBondsof Womanhood: "Women's in 1780-1835 Sphere" NewEngland, (New Haven, 1977). 31. Massachusetts, Statistics Manufacturing, 1837. of 32. Falerregarded Awlas the most influentiallaborpaperpublishedby shoemakers,its the circulation Lynnprobably in most of them, Mechanics, 200. reaching p. 33. In his fascinatingdiscussion of the impactof a new industrialmoralityon the social customs and attitudesof Lynn society, Faler analyzedattemptsby moral reformersafter 1826 to underminethe relaxedmoralityof the eighteenthcenturyby imposingdiscipline on sexual practices,such as bundling,on publicsocialoccasions,on school yardbehaviorand on sexual conductin general,Mechanics, 109-138.Whetherthis new socialmoralityalso pp. attitudeson the natureof women as purified,moralbeingsis a producednew working-class tantalizing question. Faler and Dawley have argued elsewhere that the "rebels" who identified with Awl utilized the new industrial morality for purposes of working-class resistance,see "WorkingClassCultureand Politics."The same argumentmay applyto the Awrs attemptto utilizewomen as moralagentsin supportof working-class objectivesin the 1840s and later in the strike of 1860. The conceptof women as moralagents in society is crucialto women's historyin the earlynineteenthcenturyand underliesthe publicactivities of organizedmiddle-class women, see for example,CarrollSmith-Rosenberg, "Beauty,the Beast, and the MilitantWoman:A Case Studyin Sex Roles and SocialStress in Jacksonian 23 America,"American Quarterly (1971):562-584. 34. Essex County Washingtonian, Dec. 29, 1842, Jan. 5, 26, 1843 calls attention to the temperanceactivitiesof women in the Woodend section of Lynn, the home of a large portionof Lynn'sjourneymen.On Woodendand temperanceactivitiesin Lynn, see Faler, Mechanics, 197, 104, 130-136, 206-210.The activityof these women may also indicate pp. theireconomicdependenceon theirfamiliesas a resultof low wagesfor shoebinding. 35. TheAwl,July 17, 1844. 36. The trainingof women as shoemakersin Essex Countywas not entirelyunknown,but on of reflectedthe tradition a widowor daughtercarrying the tradeof a husbandor father. On Mrs.Tuttle, TheAwl,Aug. 28, 1844. The 37. For appealsfor female participation, Awl, Sept. 11, 18, Dec. 7, 1844. For laments over lackof response,Dec. 14, 17, 21, 1844. 38. TheAwl,Dec. 21, 1844. 39. "Letterto the EditorfromCentreStreet," TheAwl,Sept. 18, 1844. 40. TheAwl,Sept. 11, 1844. 41. "Mechanics'Wives," TheAwl, June 18, 1845. See also "FrankRussell or the Village Blacksmith,"an originalstory publishedin the September4, 1844 issue whicharguedthat the naturaland acquiredvirtues of a mechanic'slife could overcome and harmonizeclass divisions. 42. Stone, "Lynn," pp. 87-93. Falerarguedthat Robinsonwas a "good boss" duringthe 1840s as comparedto the "grinders" who were regardedas highly exploitativeby the of journeymen, Mechanics, 177-178.Robinson, however, introducedhigher standards pp.



qualityfor work, issued printeddirectivesto both makersand bindersabout how the work He and should be performed inspectedthe workpersonally. also apparently good wages paid of over work.For Danvers,WilliamL. Hyde, "Reminiscences in returnfor tighterdiscipline Historical Collections theDanvers Danvers in the Forties and Fifties," Historical of Society5 (1917): 1-20 and Edwin Mudge, "The Shoe Trade of Danvers," in Charles B. Rice, at now at anniversary the parish SalemVillage, of first of Proceedings thecelebration twohundredth Danvers (Boston, 1874):235-243. 43. In 1845 the Awl announced an advancedposition on women's rights and supported equal compensationfor women workersand an absolute equalityof rights, includingthe as rightto subscribeto a free press. TheAwl,Jan.4, 1845.NathanD. Chase was regarded a p. "grinder"by Lynnshoemakers,Faler,Mechanics, 178. 44. For the manufacturers' side, TheAwl,Jan. 25, Feb. 22, 1845;for Darlin'sside, Feb. 22, 1845. For the shoebinders'contributions,TheAwl,Feb. 1, 22, 1845.For a complaintby one in woman about being subordinatedwhile participating the activitiesof the cordwainers' society, see Constance, "On the Art of Shoemaking," TheAwl, Feb. 22, 1845. The Awl defendedthe factorygirlsof of supportedlaboractivistSarahBagleyand The Voice Industry, Lowell and the seamstressesof Boston, but did not perceiveshoebindersin terms of their and vulnerability isolation. to Statistical Branches 45. Commonwealthof Massachusetts, Relating Certain Information of in for Industry Massachusetts, theyear,1855 (Boston, 1856). 46. Survivingaccountsfrom the 1830s,the 1840sand 1850son the outworksystem in Essex Countyare rare.See the accountsof JeremiahChapman(1839-1849)DanversandJamesP. Hutchinson(1836-1860) Danvers, Essex Institute,Salem, Massachusetts,the accountsof BartlettGage (1829-1834) Haverhilland John Tappan (1827-1843) Bradford,Haverhill and the personalaccountsof EdwardPoor (1828-1869)Georgetown,Essex PublicLibrary Institute. 47. Mary H. Blewett, "'I Am Doom to Disapointment': The Diaries of a Beverly, Historical Collections Massachusetts, Shoebinder,SarahE. Trask, 1849-1851,"EssexInstitute 117 (1981): 192-212. Trask and her fellow binders had fathers who were laborers, carpenters,marinersand shoemakers.These young women formed female networkswith littleconnectionto shoemakingartisans.The Prestonaccountsof Danvers, Essex Institute, workers revealedthe employmentof eleven shoebinderswho formedthe core of productive between 1836 and 1845 of which four were the wives or daughtersof farmers.William Mulligansaw the shoemakingfamilyas a harmoniouswork unit in operationfrom 1780 to 1850 and analyzedthe impactof the close connections between work and family on the fertilityof shoemakingfamilies in the Lynn census of 1850. He found that shoemaking childrenin a more familieshada fertilityratelowerthanother skilledworkersand produced concentrated period of their lives. Mulligan contended that the role of women in shoemakingfamiliesas workers in family labor units was economicallyvaluableand this valued economic role explainsthe fertilitypatternsof the shoemakingfamily in 1850. See William Mulligan, "The Family as Factory:Shoemakingin the North Shore District of Massachusetts, 1750-1850," paper presented to the American Historical Association, of on December, 1980. However, the census of population 1850 does not give information the occupationsof women. The evidence in this essay on the disassociationof women of workersfromthe familyworkunit suggeststhatthe 1850fertilitypatterns the shoemaking of familiesmightbetterbe explainedby the penetration the familyby the putting-out system whichdividedwomen's workfrom a familylaborcontext. Lowerfertility,possiblyevidence ratherthanthe continuityof familiesas of domesticfeminism, mightreflectthe breakdown work units. The familywas still an economic unit, a familywage economy, but no longera family labor economy. This useful distinctionis explored in Joan Scott and Louise Tilly, and (New York, 1978). Women, Work, Family


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48. Ross David Thomson, "The Originsof Modern Industryin the United States: The Mechanization Shoe and Sewing MachineProduction," (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, of Economics, 1976): 245-250; The Lynn Item, (Reminiscences of John B. Nichols and Nov. 10, 1903,Aug. 30 andSept.8, 1913. Obituary) 49. Swett, "Haverhill,"pp. 16-17;(Reminiscences CharlesBuffum) TheLynnItem,Oct. of of Feb. 28, 1863; "First Introduction the Sewing Machine 5, 1901; LynnWeekly Reporter, Dec. 12, 1867and Thomson, "Origins into the Shoe Business,"ShoeandLeather Reporter, of ModernIndustry,"pp.247-261. 50. ThomasP. Kettel, "Manufacturers," EightyYears'Progress the United in States(New of Poor of York, 1864):428. See also the wagesof MariaPoor in the accountbook of Edward and fell in the early Georgetown.Her wages rose in the 1850sjust before mechanization of of 1860sto levels reminiscent the 1830sas a resultof the introduction the factory system. 51. An examinationof the LynnTax Assessmentsin 1860and the schedulesof the United States Census of Manufacturerevealed no informationon sewing machines owned by or manufacturers individuals.For impressionsof the extent of their use in the home, see Years, Johnson, Sketches Lynn,p. 340; Hazard,BootandShoeIndustry, 95-96;Eighty p. of pp. of 428 andThomson, "Origins ModernIndustry,"pp.69-70. 52. LynnItem,Jan. 1, 1897andThomson, "Origins ModernIndustry,"pp.69-71, 138. of 53. LynnNews,July 20, 1855.The Massachusetts state census of populationfor 1855 does of not list the occupations women. at 54. On the declineof Yankeewomen as textile workers,Dublin, Women Work, 201pp. 207. Calculationsbased on the federal manuscript census of populationin Lynn for 1860 indicate that 52%of the total number of the 371 female machine operatives (stitchers) houses.Of the boarding boardedin Lynnwith privatefamiliesor in smallboarding stitchers, New Hampshireand Maine and 19%were 31% were natives of other states, principally in 48%of the foreign-born,principally Nova Scotia (7%were Irishnatives).The remaining assumingthat Lynn boardingstitcherswere natives of towns and cities of Massachusetts, nativeswere livingwiththeirfamiliesor kin. 55. Localobserversnoted a dropof one thirdin shoemakers'wagesbetween 1857and 1860. Mar.31, Apr. 16, 1860and the SalemObserver, Mar.3, 1860.Sumner, Reporter, LynnWeekly of Womenin Industry, 172, commented on the high productivity the machinegirls in p. relation to the bottomers after the introductionof the sewing machine. Also see, Lynn Feb. 29, 1860. Mar.31, Apr.21, 1860;Marblehead Ledger, Reporter, 56. See the commentsof James Haines, a Boston shoemakerin the New York Herald,Mar. of in 22, 1860 on the relationship machinestitchersto bottomersin terms of productivity 1860. Also see lettersdeploringthe developmentof two wagescalesfor women, TriWeekly Publisher (Haverhill),Mar.3, 10, 1860.For the custom of furnishing homeworkers,see by Feb. 28, 1860. the testimonyof womenat the Lynnstrikemeetings,Boston Journal, of 57. The regionalshoe strikeof 1860 was the largestdemonstration laborprotestbefore the Civil War and as such has had some attention from historians,but little systematic analysis. The most detailed examination appearedin Philip S. Foner, Womenand the WarI (New York, 1979): From Colonial Timesto theEveof World Movement: Labor American women's 90-97. Foneremphasizedthe heroicandexemplary aspectsof the strike,especially militancyand the unity between working-classmen and women, but he dismissed the dissensionover strikeobjectivesas "some discussion,"pp. 92-93. See also NormanWare, in 1840-1860(New York, 1964):47 and Andrewsand Bliss, Women The Industrial Worker, TradeUnions,p. 108. Dawley analyzed the strike, Class and Community, 79-90, as a pp. and decliningwages, but doesn't pick up the conflict between productof mechanization



women workers and the strike committee. He did, however, note the subordinationof women in the ideologyand rhetoricof the shoemakers'resistance.Faler saw the strike as markingthe end of a communityof interestin Lynn and as the beginningof class conflict, but he emphasized the role of the mechanics and overlooked the conflict within the see women's organization, Mechanics, chapter11.Overreliance DawleyandFaleron local by newspaperreporting,especially in the pro-strike(Lynn) Bay State whose editor, Lewis Josselyn, acted as an advisor to the bottomers' strike committee and smoothed over evidence of conflicts within the strike, gave them an overly harmoniousview of strike of to events. The preponderance evidence from the out-of-townpress, whichsent reporters Lynn to cover events in detail as eye-witnesses reveals the conflict between the homeworkersand factorygirls, especiallyin the coverageof the women's strike meetings. See the lengthy, eye-witnessaccounts in the BostonHerald,the New YorkTimes,the New and Advertiser. BayStateand The York Post,the Boston Herald,the Boston Journal, the Boston covered the women's meetingsonly briefly.Patricia Brancahas the other Lynn newspapers suggested that women's experience with work has differed significantly from men's experience in ways which must be taken into account in assessing the motivations and in Since1750 behaviorof women at work, in strikesituationsand in unions, Women Europe (New York, 1978):45-46. 58. The BayState,Feb. 23, Mar.1, 1860. 59. The timingof the involvementof the women in the strikeafterthe outbreakof violence the on February23 is crucialto understanding motives of the strike committee. Alonzo Draper of the committee issued a call for the first meeting of women on the night of 23 February by urgingcrowdsof strikingmen to send theirwives andsweetheartsto a public meeting. Laterin a disputeamong strikecommitteemembersin April 1860 reportedin the Apr. 14, 1860, a member of the Executive Boardof the strike committee, LynnReporter, John R. Parrottsaid:". . . there was not a word said about the runningof machines,or of the women striking,for some time afterwe struck." 60. Comparisons between data on women workersin Lynn in the United StatesCensus of in Manufacturefor 1860 and newspaperestimates of women participating the strike as homeworkerssuggest that about 60%of the approximately 3,000 female shoeworkersin Lynn supportedthe strike committee. The remaining40%representedthe boardingshop girls, a minorityof the total work force in Lynn, seasonallyemployed,but who, as full-time werecapableof crippling industry. machineoperativesin centralized the production, 61. See the Feb. 28, 29, 1860issues of the Boston the Journal, Boston Post,the Boston Herald, Herald. organizational For workby the women, the BostonHerald,Mar.6, and the New York Mar.2, 1860. 12, 1860and the BostonTraveler, 62. The New York Feb. 29, Mar.6, 1860. Times, 63. The New York Mar.6, 1860. Times, 64. The New YorkTimes,Mar. 6, 1860; the New York Herald,Mar. 5, 1860 and the Boston Mar.3, 1860. Journal, 65. The New York Mar.6, 1860. Times, 66. The BostonHerald, Mar.3, 1860. 67. The New YorkTimes,Mar. 6, 1860; the BostonHerald,Mar. 3, 1860 and the Boston have recently debated whether the family wage Journal,Mar. 3, 1860. Marxist-feminists served the interests of patriarchy served the ability of working-class or families to resist exploitationby employers.See Heidi Hartmann,"The UnhappyMarriage Marxismand of Feminism:Towardsa More ProgressiveUnion," Capital and Class (Summer, 1979): 1-43


journal of social history

and Jane Humphries,"Class Struggleand the Persistenceof the Working-Class Family," I Journal Economics (1979): 241-258.Both the Hartmann and the Humphries Cambridge of model appearto have operatedin the Lynn strike in 1860. The family wage as a strike defendedan increasein men's wagesandwantedworkin objectivemeantthathomeworkers the home to be preservedin the interestsof familyincome. They acceptedthe male strike committee's strategy. The factory girls led by Clara Brown seemed unconsciously to control in the familyand in the strike by offeringan alliancewith the challengepatriarchal homeworkersbased on gender and the sexual divisionof labor.They were defeatedin the Lynn strike by the actionsand rhetoricof the male strikecommitteeand outnumberedby those who respondedto the ideology of the bottomers' family wage argument.In midMarch, however, the bottomers demonstrated their willingness to jeopardize even homeworkto win their increases.The New York HeraldMar. 19, 1860; the Boston Journal, Mar.20, 1860. 68. The BayState,Mar.8, 1860. 69. The LynnReporter denied that by the end of Marchthe women's strikewas havingany March21, 1860. To test whetherthe boardingstitchers effect at all on the manufacturers, who came from other communitiesto work in Lynnformedattachmentsto local men and, therefore, might identify with the bottomers' interests in the strike, the 192 boarding stitcherswere linkedto the Massachusetts recordsbetween 1860and 1870.Fortymarriage five or 23%of the boarding stitchersdid marryin Lynn, but only 29 or 15% married between 1860 and 1865 and might be said to have had sweetheartsduringthe 1860 strike.Another sixteen of the 45 boardingstitcherswho marriedin Lynn did so between 1865 and 1870. Three-fourthsof the boardingstitchersdid not marryin Lynn. MarisVinovskis warned, can however, that migration affectand distortthe evidenceof marriage registers.Marriages may be performedin the town where the bridelived, yet the new couple may reside in the in communitywhere the groom lived and worked,Fertility Massachusetts theRevolution from to theCivilWar(New York, 1981):49-50.