History 233 Reading Guide

Industrialization And The Industrial Community

  • Thomas Dublin, "Women Workers and the Study of Social Mobility," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 9:4 (1979), 647-665.   JSTOR
  • Mary H. Blewett, "Work, Gender and the Artisan Tradition in New England Shoemaking, 1780-1860," Journal of Social History 17.2 (1983), 221-248.  JSTOR


  • How did Dublin's contemporary (1970s) perspective shape the questions that he asked about women's experience of social and occupational mobility in the early Lowell mills?
  • How does Dublin characterize the experience of women who made up the early mill workforce?  What changes led to the transformation of work?  How did women operatives respond to those changes?  How did those changes lead to a shift in the workforce?  What were the long range consequences of these changes for women workers?
  • Blewett asks similar questions about the relationship between gender and work, but she locates her study of women workers in shoemaking in artisan culture rather than in the farming culture of the New England mill women.
  • How does Blewett describe women's roles in pre-industrial shoe production?
  • Although shoes continued to be manufactured by hand rather than machine, what changes occurred in shoe production in the years between 1780 and 1860?  Why?
  • How did these changes affect women's work and status in shoemaking, and their role and place in artisan families?  How did women negotiate the tensions between family and work that these changes created?
  • How did women shoebinders respond to the new conditions of work?  What principles did they argue in their demands for higher wages?