Life for many working-class women in early 20th-Century England was one of hard toil, working almost constantly to provide for their families’ basic needs. There is relatively little source material about working-class women’s work in early 20th century England, but the sources Round About a Pound a Week, Married Women’s Work and Life As We Have Known It, provide a rare glimpse. They discuss working-class women’s experiences as mothers, wives, employees and political activists and define these activities as work. As the sources focus on working-class women, most historians have focused on class when analysing them. Yet this underplays the sources’ context, a crucial element of which, is that the sources were produced by feminist organisations.
Considering both class and feminist politics, I will explore what the sources show about attitudes to working-class women’s work in early 20th century England. I will also discuss the challenges of using these sources, for instance the issue of voice; although the sources focus on working-class women, some of the writers were middle-class women.
Rowan is a second-year history student, interested in class, gender, feminism and women’s experiences.