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The Trade Union Woman by Alice Henry

Part 4 out of 6

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were getting on through the hard time this year. "Oh," a girl would
answer, "it wasn't so bad at all. You see we've got the ten-hour law,
and we can't work after the time is up. It's just wonderful. Why, I'm
going to enjoy Christmas this year. I'm tired, but nothing like I've
always been before. Last Christmas Day I couldn't get out of bed, I
ached so, and I couldn't eat, either."

And yet, while the girls, thanks to the new law, were having something
like decent, though by no means ideal hours of work, the young
elevator boys, in the same store were working fourteen hours and a
half, day in, day out.

So imperfect yet are the results of much that is accomplished!

There are now two states, Mississippi and Oregon, which have ten-hour
laws, applying to both men and women, and including the larger
proportion of the workers. There are also federal statutes, state
laws and municipal ordinances limiting the hours and granting the
eight-hour day to whole groups of workers, either in public or
semi-public employ, or affecting special occupations such as mining.
Thus it is clear, that for both sexes there is now abundant legal
precedent for any shortening of hours, which has its place in a more
advanced social and industrial development.



The profound impression that has been left upon contemporary thought
by the teaching of Lester Ward and those who have followed him, that
woman is the race, has been felt far and wide outside the sphere of
those branches of science, whose students he first startled with the
thought. His idea is indeed revolutionary as far as our immediate past
and our present social arrangements and sex relations are concerned,
but is natural, harmonious and self-explanatory if we regard life,
the life of our own day, not as standing still, but as in a state of
incessant flux and development, and if we are at all concerned to
discover the direction whither these changes are driving us. It
indeed may well have been that the formal enunciation of the primary
importance of woman in the social organism has played its own part in
accelerating her rise into her destined lofty position, though in the
main, any philosophy can be merely the explanation and the record of
an evolution wherein we are little but passive factors.

This much is certain, that the insistent driving home by this school
of thinkers of woman, woman, woman, as the center and nucleus whence
is developed the child and the home, and all that civilization stands
for, and whose rights as an independent human being are therefore to
be held of supreme importance in the normal evolution of the race, has
served as an incessant reminder to practical workers and reformers in
the sphere of education as well as to leaders of the woman movement.
Especially has this been true when tackling the problems more
immediately affecting women, because these are the truly difficult
problems. Whatever touches man's side of life alone is comparatively
simple and easily understood, and therefore easier of solution. So in
the rough and ready, often cruel, solutions which nature and humanity
have worked out for social problems, it has always been the man
whose livelihood, whose education and whose training have been first
considered, and whose claims have been first satisfied. For this there
are several reasons. Man's possession of material wealth, and his
consequent monopoly of social and political power have naturally
resulted in his attending to his own interests first. The argument,
too, that man was the breadwinner and the protector of the home
against all outside antagonistic influences, which in the past he has
generally been, furnished another reason why, when any class attained
to fresh social privileges, it was the boy and the man of that class,
rather than the woman and the girl, who benefited by them first. The
woman and the girl would come in a poor second, if indeed they were in
at the dividing of the spoils at all.

There is, however, another reason, and one of profound significance,
which I believe has hardly been touched upon at all, why woman has
been thus constantly relegated to the inferior position. Her problems
are, as I said above, far more difficult of settlement. Because of her
double function as a member of her own generation and as the potential
mother of the next generation, it is impossible to regard her life as
something simple and single, and think out plans for its arrangement,
as we do with man's. So in large measure we have only been following
the line of least resistance, in taking up men's difficulties
first. We have done so quite naturally, because they are not so
overwhelmingly hard to deal with, and have attacked woman's problems,
and striven to satisfy her needs, only when we could find time to get
round to them. This is most strikingly exemplified in the realm of
education. Take the United States alone. It was ever to the boy that
increasing educational advantages were first offered.

In the year 1639 the authorities of the town of Dorchester,
Massachusetts, hesitated as to whether girls should be admitted to
the apparently just established school. The decision was left "to the
discretion of the elders and seven men." The girls lost. In "Child
Life in Colonial Days" Mrs. Annie Grant is quoted. She spent her
girlhood in Albany, N.Y., sometime during the first half of the
eighteenth century. She says it was very difficult at that time to
procure the means of instruction in those districts. The girls learned
needlework from their mothers and aunts; they learnt to read the
Bible and religious tracts in Dutch; few were taught writing. Similar
accounts come from Virginia.

Was it university education that was in question, how many
university-trained men had not American colleges turned out before
Lucy Stone was able to obtain admission to Oberlin?

Harvard was opened in 1636. Two hundred years elapsed before there was
any institution offering corresponding advantages to girls. Oberlin
granted its first degree to a woman in 1838. Mount Holyoke was founded
in 1837, Elmira in 1855 and Vassar in 1865.

That a perfectly honest element of confusion and puzzle did enter into
the thought of parents and the views of the community, it would be
vain to deny. These young women were incomprehensible. Why were they
not content with the education their mothers had had, and with the
lives their mothers had led before them? Why did they want to leave
comfortable homes, and face the unknown, the hard, perhaps the
dangerous? How inexplicable, how undutiful! Ah! It was the young
people who were seeing furthest into the future; it was the fathers
and mothers who were not recognizing the change that was coming over
the world of their day.

If then, for the combination of reasons outlined, women have always
lagged in the rear as increasing educational advantages of a literary
or professional character have been provided or procured for boys, it
is not strange, when, in reading over the records of work on the new
lines of industrial education, trade-training and apprenticeship
we detect the very same influences at work, sigh before the same
difficulties, and recognize the old weary, threadbare arguments, too,
which one would surely think had been sufficiently disproved before to
be at least distrusted in this connection. This, however, must surely
be the very last stand of the non-progressivists in education as
regards the worker. The ideals of today aim at education on lines that
will enable every child, boy and girl alike, born in or brought
into any civilized country, to develop all faculties, and that will
simultaneously enable the community to benefit from this complete,
all-round development of every one of its members.

There is one consideration to which I must call attention, because,
when recognized, it cannot but serve as the utmost stimulus to our
efforts to arrange for vocational education for girls on the broadest
lines. It is this. Whatever general, national or state plans prove the
most complete and satisfactory for girls, will, speaking generally, at
the same time be found to have solved the problem for the boy as well.
The double aim, of equipping the girl to be a mother as well as human
being, is so all-inclusive and is therefore so much more difficult of
accomplishment, that the simpler training necessary for a boy's career
will be automatically provided for at the same time. Therefore the
boy is not likely to be at a disadvantage under such a coeducational
system as is here implied. For it is to nothing short of coeducation
that the organized women of the United States are looking forward,
coeducation on lines adapted to present-day wants. What further
contributions the far-off future may hold for us in the never wholly
to be explored realm of human education in its largest acceptance,
we know not. Until we have learned the lesson of today, and have set
about putting it in practice, such glimpses of the future are not
vouchsafed to us.

In such an age of transition as ours, any plan of vocational training
intended to include girls must be a compromise with warring facts, and
will therefore have to face objections from both sides, from those
forward-looking ones who feel that the domestic side of woman's
activities is overemphasized, and from those who still hark back, who
would fain refuse to believe that the majority of women have to be
wage-earners for at least part of their lives. These latter argue
that by affording to girls all the advantages of industrial training
granted or which may be granted to boys, we are "taking them out of
the home." As if they were not out of the home already!

This assumption will appear to most readers paradoxical, if indeed it
does not read as a contradiction in terms. A little thought, however,
will show that it is just because we are all along assuming the
economic primacy of the boy, that the girl has been so disastrously
neglected. It is true that the boy is also a potential father, and
that his training for that lofty function is usually ignored and will
have to be borne in mind, though no one would insist that training
for fatherhood need occupy a parallel position with training for
motherhood. But popular reasoning is not content with accepting this
admission; it goes on to draw the wholly unwarranted conclusion that
while the boy ought to be thoroughly taught on the wage-earning
side, and while such teaching should cover all the more important
occupations, to which he is likely to be called, the girl's
corresponding training shall as a matter of course be quite a
secondary matter, fitting her only for a limited set of pursuits, many
of these ranking low in skill and opportunities of advancement, and
necessarily among the most poorly paid; these being all occupations
which we choose to assume girls will enter, such as sewing or
box-making. Only recently have girls been prepared for the textile
trades, though they have always worked in these, first in the home and
since then in the factories. Still less is any preparation thought
of for the numberless occupations that necessity and a perpetually
changing world are all the while driving girls to take up. There were
in 1910, 8,075,772 women listed as wage-earners in the United States.
Would it not be as well, if a girl is to be a wage-earner, that
she should have at least as much opportunity of learning her trade
properly, as is granted to a boy?

Setting aside for the moment the fact that girls are already engaged
in so many callings, it is poor policy and worse economy to argue that
because a girl may be but a few years a wage-earner, it is therefore
not worth while to make of her an efficient, capable wage-earner. That
is fair to no one, neither to the girl herself nor to the community.
The girl deserves to be taken more seriously. Do this, and it will
then be clear that a vocational system wide enough and flexible enough
to fit the girl to be at once a capable mother-housekeeper, and a
competent wage-earner, will be a system adequate to the vocational
training of the boy for life-work in any of the industrial pursuits.
It is self-evident that the converse would not hold.

And first, to those readers of advanced views who will think that I
am conceding even too much in thus consenting apparently to sink
the human activities of the woman in those of the mother during the
greater part of maturity. Touching the question of personal human
development, I concede nothing, as I assert nothing, but I accept
present-day facts, and desire to make such compromise with them as
shall clear the way for whatever forms of home and industrial life
shall evolve from them most naturally and simply. We may observe
with satisfaction and hopefulness that the primitive collection of
unrelated industries which have so long lingered in the home to the
detriment of both and which have confused our thoughts as to which
were the essential and permanent, and which the merely accidental and
temporary functions of the home, are gradually coming within the range
of the specialized trades, and as such are freeing the home from
so much clutter and confusion, and freeing the woman from so many
fettering bonds. But the process is a slow one, and again, it may
not even go on indefinitely. There may be a limit in the process of
specializing home industries. So far as it has gone, different classes
of women are very unequally affected by it. In the United States,
where these changes have gone on faster and further than anywhere
else, the two classes whose occupations have been most radically
modified have been, first and chiefly, the young girl from fourteen to
twenty-four, of every class, and next the grownup woman, who has taken
up one of the professions now for the first time open to women, and
this almost irrespective of whether she is married or single.

As to the young girl, the transformation of the home plus industries
to the home, pure and simple, a place to live in and rest in, to love
in and be happy in, has so far already been effected, that in the home
of the artisan and the tradesman there is not now usually sufficient
genuine, profitable occupation for more than one growing or grown girl
as assistant to her mother. For two reasons the other daughters will
look out of doors for employment. The first reason is that under
rearranged conditions of industry, there is nothing left for them
to do at home. The second is not less typical of these altered
conditions. The father cannot, even if he would, afford to keep them
at home as non-producers. If the processes of making garments and
preparing food are no longer performed by the members of the
family for one another, the outsiders who do perform them must be
remunerated, and that not in kind, as, for example, with board and
lodging and clothing, but in money wages, in coin. And their share of
the money to enable this complicated system of exchange of services to
be carried out, must be earned by the unmarried daughters of the house
through their working in turn at some wage-earning occupation, also

The young woman who has entered medicine, or law, or dentistry, who
paints pictures or writes books, is on very much the same economic
basis as the young working-girl. She, too, is accepted as part of the
already established order of things, and the present generation has
grown up in happy ignorance of the difficulties experienced by the
pioneers in all these professions in establishing their right to
independent careers. The professional woman who has married finds
herself so far on a less secure foundation. Every professional woman
who has children has to work out for herself the problem of the mutual
adjustment of the claims of her profession and her family, but so many
have solved the difficulties and have made the adjustment that it
seems only a question of time when every professional woman may accept
the happiness of wifehood and motherhood when it is offered to her
without feeling that she has to choose once for all between a happy
marriage and a successful professional career.

Not a few professional women, writers, and speakers, have gone on to
infer that a similar solution was at hand for the working-girl on her
marriage. Not yet is any such adjustment or rather readjustment of
domestic and industrial activities in sight for her. Whatever changes
may take place in the environment of the coming American woman, the
present generation of working-girls as they marry are going to find
their hands abundantly filled with duties within the walls of their
own little homes. We know today how the health and the moral welfare
of children fare when young mothers are prematurely forced back into
the hard and exhausting occupations from which marriage has withdrawn

Again, the factory conditions of modern industry have been brought to
their present stage with one end in view--economy of time and material
with the aim of cheapening the product. The life and the smooth
running of the human machine, when considered at all, has been thought
of last, and in this respect America is even one of the most backward
of the civilized nations. Hence factory life is hard and disagreeable
to the worker. Especially to the young girl is it often unendurable.
A girl who has been some years in a factory rarely wants her young
sister to come into it, too. She herself is apt to shift from one shop
to another, from trade to trade, always in the hope that some other
work may prove less exhausting and monotonous than that with which she
is familiar by trying experience. Two forces tend to drive girls early
out of industrial life: on the one hand, the perfectly normal instinct
of self-protection in escaping from unnatural and health-ruining
conditions and on the other the no less normal impulse leading
to marriage. But oftener than we like to think, the first is the
overmastering motive.

Let us now take up the objections of those far more numerous to whom
the provision of trade-training for girls seems superfluous, when not
harmful, and who especially shrink from the suggestion of coeducation.
To satisfy them, let us marshal a few facts and figures.

Of every kind of education that has been proposed for girls, whether
coeducational or not, we have always heard the same fears expressed.
Such education would make the girl unwomanly, it would unfit her for
her true functions, a man could not wish to marry her, and so on. The
first women teachers and doctors had indeed a hard time. After being
admitted to the profession only at the point of the sword, so to
speak, they had to make good, and in face of all prejudice, prove
their ability to teach or to cure, so as to keep the path open for
those who were to follow after them. No similar demand should be
logically made of the working-girl today when she demands coeducation
on industrial lines. For she is already in the trades from which you
propose so futilely to exclude her, by denying her access to the
technical training preparatory to them, and for fitting her to
practice them.

Take some other occupations which employ women in great numbers:
textile mill operatives, saleswomen, tobacco-workers, cigar-workers,
boot-and shoe-workers, printers, lithographers, and pressmen, and
book-binders. You can hardly say that these are exceptions, for here
are the figures, from the occupational statistics of the census of

[Footnote A: The statement that appeared in the report on
"Occupations" in the census returns of 1910, that there were but
nine occupations in which women were not employed, has been widely
commented upon.

An explanation appearing in the corresponding volume of the census
report for 1910 shows the great difficulties that enumerators and
statisticians experience in getting at exact facts, wherever the
situation is both complex and confused. The census officials admit
their inability to do so in the present instance, although they have
revised the figures with extreme care. With all possible allowance for
error, women still appear in all but a minority of employments. The
classification of occupations is on a different basis, and the number
of divisions much larger; yet even now out of four hundred and
twenty-nine separately listed, women are returned as engaged in all
but forty-two. On the other hand there is only one trade which does
not embrace men, that of the (untrained) midwife.]

Textile mill operatives 330,766
Saleswomen 250,438
Tobacco-workers and cigar-makers 71,334
Boot- and shoe-makers and repairers 61,084
Printers, lithographers and pressmen 27,845
Book-binders 22,012

Just here we can see a rock ahead. In the very prospects that we
rejoice over, of the early introduction of public industrial
training, we can detect an added risk for the girl. If such technical
instruction is established in one state after another, but planned
primarily to suit the needs of boys only, and the only teaching
afforded to girls is in the domestic arts, and in the use of the
needle and the pastebrush for wage-earning, where will our girls be
when a few years hence the skilled trades are full of her only too
well-trained industrial rivals? In a greater degree than even today,
the girl will find herself everywhere at a disadvantage for lack of
the early training the state has denied to her, while bestowing
it upon her brother, and the few industrial occupations for which
instruction is provided will be overcrowded with applicants.

That women should take such an inferior position in the trades they
are in today is regrettable enough. But far more important is it to
make sure that they obtain their fair share of whatever improved
facilities are provided for "the generation knocking at the door"
of life. Working-women or women intimately acquainted with
working-women's needs, should have seats on all commissions, boards
and committees, so that when schemes of state industrial training are
being planned, when schools are built, courses outlined, the interests
of girls may be remembered, and especially so that they be borne in
mind, when budgets are made up and appropriations asked for.

If not, it will only be one other instance of an added advantage to
the man proving a positive disadvantage to the woman. You cannot
benefit one class and leave another just as it was. Every boon given
to the bettered class increases the disproportion and actually helps
to push yet further down the one left out.

Among the many influences that make or mar the total content of life
for any class, be that class a nation, a race, an industrial or
economic group, there is one, the importance of which has been all
too little realized. That influence we may call expectance. It is
impossible for anyone to say how far a low standard of industrial
or professional attainment held out before the girl at her most
impressionable age, a standard that to some degree, therefore,
develops within her, as it exists without her, ends in producing the
very inefficiency it begins by assuming. But psychology has shown us
that suggestion or expectance forms one element in the developing of
faculty, and this whether it be manual dexterity, quickness of memory
or exercise of judgment and initiative.

In all probability, too, this element of expectance has indirect as
well as direct effects, and the indirect are not the least fruitful in
results. To illustrate: it is certain that if we start out by
assuming that girls are poor at accounts, that they cannot understand
machinery, that they are so generally inefficient as to be worth less
wages than boys, any such widespread assumption will go a long way
to produce the ignorant and incompetent and inefficient creatures it
presupposes girls to be. But it will do more than this. Such poor
standards alike of performance and of wages will not end with the
unfortunate girls themselves. They will react upon parents, teachers,
and the community which so largely consists of the parents and which
employs the teachers. Those preessentials and antecedents of the
competent worker, training, trainers, and the means and instruments
of training, will not be forthcoming. What is the use of providing
at great expense industrial training for girls, when the same money,
spent upon boys, would produce more efficient workers? What is the
use of giving girls such training, when they are presumably by nature
unfitted to benefit by it?



The United States started its national existence with an out-of-doors
people. Until comparatively recent years, the cities were small, and
the great bulk of the inhabitants lived from the natural resources of
the country, that is to say, from the raw products of the mines and
the forests, and the crops grown upon the plains by a most primitive
and wasteful system of agriculture. But the days have forever gone
when a living can be snatched, so to speak, from the land in any of
these ways. The easily gotten stores of the mines and forests are
exhausted; the soil over many millions of acres has been robbed of its
fertility. The nation is now engaged in reckoning up what is left in
the treasury of its natural resources, estimating how best to conserve
and make profitable use of what is left.

The nation might have done this sooner, but there was in the West
always fresh land to open up and in the East, after a time, a new
source of income in the factory industries, that were more and more
profitably absorbing capital and labor. So that although pioneer
conditions gradually passed away, and it became less easy to wrest a
living from plain or mountain or mine, the idea of finding out what
was wrong, improving methods of agriculture, conserving the forest
wealth by continual replanting or working the less rich mines at a
profit through new processes, or the utilization of by-products, did
not at first suggest itself.

When, on the other hand, we turn to the manufacturing occupations,
we find that they have followed an analogous, though not precisely
similar, course of evolution. Certainly from the first the
manufacturers showed themselves far ahead of their fellows in the
economical management of the raw material, in the adoption of every
kind of labor and time-saving device and in the disposal of refuse.
But in their way they have been just as short-sighted. They carried
with them into the new occupations the very same careless habits of
national extravagance. They, too, went ahead in a similar hustling
fashion. This time the resources that were used up so recklessly were
human resources, the strength and vitality of the mature man, the
flesh and blood of little children, their stores of energy and
youthful joy and hope. By overwork or accident, the father was cut
off in his strong manhood, the boy was early worn out, and the young
girl's prospects of happy motherhood were forever quenched.

There are now signs of a blessed reaction setting in here, too, and it
is largely owing to the efforts of organized labor. The principles of
conservation and of a wise economy, which are re-creating the plains
of the West and which will once more clothe with forests the slopes of
the mountains, are at work in the realm of industry. Not a year passes
but that some state or another does not limit anew the hours during
which children may work, or insist upon shorter hours for women, or
the better protection from dangerous machinery, or the safeguarding
of the worker in unhealthy occupations. Organized labor, ever
running ahead of legislation in its standards of hours and sanitary
conditions, provides a school of education and experiment for the
whole community, by procuring for trade unionists working conditions
which afterwards serve as the model for enlightened employers, and as
a standard that the community in the end must exact for the whole body
of workers.

But more must be done than merely keeping our people alive, by
insisting they shall not be killed in the earning of their bread.
Leaders of thought and many captains of industry have at last grasped
the fact that the worker, uneducated and not trained in any true
sense, is at once a poor tool and a most costly one. Other countries
add their quota of experience, to back up public opinion and
legislative action. Hence the demand heard from one end of the land
to the other for industrial training. The public everywhere after a
century of modern factory industry are at length beginning to have
some definite ideas regarding industrial training for boys who are to
supply the human element in the factory scheme. (Regarding girls, they
still grope in outer darkness.)

For many years economists were accustomed to express nothing but
satisfaction over the ever-advancing specialization of industry. They
saw only the cheapening of the product, the vast increase in the total
amount produced, and the piling up of profits, and they beheld in all
three results nothing but social advantage. Verily both manufacturer
and consumer were benefited. When the more thoughtful turned their
attention to the actual makers through whose labors the cloth and
the shoes and the pins of specialized industry were produced, they
satisfied themselves that the worker must also be a sharer in the
benefits of the new system; for, said they, everyone who is a worker
is also a consumer. Even though the worker who is making shoes has
to turn out twenty times as much work for the same wages, still as
a consumer he shares in the all-round cheapening of manufactured
articles, and is able to buy clothes and shoes and pins so much the
cheaper. That the cost of living on the whole might be greater, that
the wage of the worker might be too low to permit of his purchasing
the very articles into the making of which his own labor had gone, did
not occur to these _a priori_ reasoners. It has taken a whole century
of incredibly swift mechanical advance, associated at the same time
with the most blind, cruel, and brutal waste of child life and adult
life, to arrive at the beginning of an adjustment between the demands
of machine-driven industry and the needs and the just claims of the
human workers. We have only just recovered from the dazed sense of
wonderment and pride of achievement into which modern discoveries
and inventions, with the resultant enormous increase of commerce
and material wealth, plunged the whole civilized world. We are but
beginning to realize, what we had well-nigh totally overlooked, that
even machine-driven industry with all that it connotes, enormously
increased production of manufactured goods, and the spread of physical
comfort to a degree unknown before among great numbers, is not the
whole of national well-being; that by itself, unbalanced by justice to
the workers, it is not even an unmixed boon.

I have tried to follow up the evolution of our present industrial
society on several parallel lines: how industry itself has developed,
how immigration affects the labor problem as regards the woman worker,
and the relation of women to the vocations in the modern world. Let us
now glance at our educational systems and see how they fit in to the
needs of the workers, especially of the working-women. For our present
purpose I will not touch on education as we find it in our most
backward states, but rather as it is in the most advanced, since it
is from improvement in these that we may expect to produce the best
results for the whole nation.

Free and compulsory public education was established to supply
literary and cultural training at a time when children still enjoyed
opportunities of learning in the home, and later in small shops
something of the trades they were to practice when grown-up. I know
of a master plumber, who twenty years ago, as a child of eleven, made
friends with the blacksmith and the tinsmith in the little village
where he lived, and taught himself the elements of his trade at the
blacksmith's anvil and with the tinsmith's tools. At fourteen that boy
knew practically a great deal about the properties of metals, could
handle simple tools deftly, and was well prepared to learn his trade
readily when the time came.

As the most intelligent city parents cannot as individuals furnish
their children with similar chances today, we must look to the public
schools, which all citizens alike support, to take up the matter, and
supply methodically and deliberately, that training of the eye and
hand, and later that instruction in wage-earning occupations which in
former days, as in the case quoted, the child obtained incidentally,
as it were, in the mere course of growing up.

On the literary side, it is true, schools are improving all the time.
History is now taught by lantern slides, showing the people's lives,
instead of by a list of dates in a catechism. Geography is illustrated
in the garden plot of the school playground. But in responding to the
new claims which a new age and a changed world are making upon them,
schools and teachers are only beginning to wake up. The manual
training gradually being introduced is a hopeful beginning, but
nothing more. The most valuable and important work of this kind is
reserved for the upper grades of the grammar schools and for certain
high schools, and the children who are able to make use of it are for
the most part the offspring of comfortably off parents, enjoying all
sorts of educational privileges already. Education, publicly provided,
free and compulsory, therefore presumably universal, was established
primarily for the benefit of the workers' children, yet of all
children it is they who are at this moment receiving the least benefit
from it. Many circumstances combine to produce this unfortunate
result. The chief direct cause is poverty in the home. So many
families have to live on such poor wages--five and six hundred dollars
a year--that the children have neither the health to profit by the
schooling nor the books nor the chance to read books at home when the
home is one or perhaps two rooms. The curse of homework in cities ties
the children down to willowing feathers or picking nuts or sewing on
buttons, or carrying parcels to and from the shop that gives out the
work, deprives them of both sleep and play, makes their attendance at
school irregular, and dulls their brains during the hours they are
with the teacher. In the country the frequently short period of school
attendance during the year and the daily out-of-school work forced
from young children by poverty-harassed parents has similar disastrous

Even in those states which have compulsory attendance up to fourteen,
many children who are quite normal are yet very backward at that age.
The child of a foreign-speaking parent, for instance, who never hears
English spoken at home, needs a longer time to reach the eighth grade
than the child of English-speaking parents.

Chicago is fairly typical of a large industrial city, and there the
City Club found after investigation that forty-three per cent. of
the pupils who enter the first grade do not reach the eighth grade;
forty-nine per cent. do not go through the eighth grade; eleven per
cent. do not reach the sixth grade, and sixteen per cent. more do not
go through the sixth grade.

A child who goes through the eighth grade has some sort of an
equipment (on the literary side at least) with which to set out in
life. He has learned how to read a book or a newspaper intelligently,
and how to express himself in writing. If he is an average child he
has acquired a good deal of useful information. He will remember much
of what he has learned, and can turn what knowledge he has to some
account. But the child who leaves school in the fifth or sixth grade,
or, perhaps, even earlier, is apt to have no hold on what he has been
taught, and it all too soon passes from his memory, especially if he
has in his home surroundings no stimulus to mental activity. Poor
little thing! What a mockery to call this education, so little as
it has fitted him to understand life and its problems! What he has
learned out of school, meanwhile, as often as not, is harmful rather
than beneficial.

The school door closes and the factory gate stands open wide. The
children get their working papers, and slip out of the one, and
through the other. At once, as we arrange matters, begins the fatal
effect of handing over children, body and soul, into the control of
industry. After a few days or weeks of wrapping candy, or carrying
bundles or drawing out bastings, the work, whatever it is, becomes but
a mere mechanical repetition. A few of the muscles only, and none of
the higher faculties of observation, inquiry and judgment come
into play at all, until, at the end of two years the brightest
school-children have perceptibly lost ground in all these directions.

Two of the most precious years of life are gone. The little workers
are not promoted from performing one process to another more
difficult. They are as far as ever from any prospect of learning a
trade in any intelligent fashion. The slack season comes on. The
little fingers, the quick feet are not required any longer. Once more
there is a scurrying round to look for a job, less cheerfully this
time, the same haphazard applying at another factory for some other
job, that like the first needs no training, like the first, leads
nowhere, but also like the first, brings in three or four dollars
a week, perhaps less. A teacher at a public-school social center
inquired of a group of fifty girls, cracker-packers, garment-workers
and bindery girls, how long each had been in her present situation.
Only one had held hers eighteen months. No other had reached a year in
the same place. The average appeared to be about three or four months.

Worse still is another class of blind-alley occupation. These are the
street trades. The newsboy, the messenger and the telegraph boy often
make good money to begin with. Girls, too, are being employed by some
of the messenger companies. These are all trades, that apart from the
many dangers inseparable from their pursuit, spell dismissal after two
or three years at most, or as soon as the boy reaches the awkward age.
The experience gained is of no use in any other employment, and the
unusual freedom makes the messenger who has outgrown his calling
averse to the discipline of more regular occupations.

What a normal vocational education can be, and a normal development of
occupation, is seen in the professions, such as law and medicine. The
lawyer and the doctor are, it is true, confining themselves more and
more to particular branches of their respective callings, and more
and more are they becoming experts in the branch of law or medicine
selected. The lawyer specializes in criminal cases or in damage suits,
in commercial or constitutional law; he is a pleader or a consultant.
The doctor may decide to be a surgeon, or an oculist, an anesthetist
or a laboratory worker. And the public reap the benefit in more expert
advice and treatment. But the likeness between such professional
specialization and the dehumanizing and brain-deadening industrial
specialization, which is the outgrowth of the factory system, is one
in name only as was admirably put by Samuel Gompers, when presiding
over the Convention of the American Federation of Labor at Toronto in

"It must be recognized that specialists in industry are vastly
different from specialists in the professions. In the professions,
specialists develop from all the elements of the science of the
profession. Specialists in industry are those who know but one part
of a trade, and absolutely nothing of any other part of it. In the
professions specialists are possessed of all the learning of their
art; in industry they are denied the opportunity of learning the
commonest elementary rudiments of industry other than the same
infinitesimal part performed by them perhaps thousands of times over
each day."

When the speaker emphasized these points of unlikeness, he was at the
same time, and in the same breath, pointing out the direction in which
industry must be transformed. Training in the whole occupation
must precede the exercise of the specialty. Furthermore, as all
professional training has its cultural side, as well as its strictly
professional side, so the cultural training of the worker must ever
keep step with his vocational training.

The motto of the school should be, "We are for all," for it is what
teachers and the community are forever forgetting. Think of the
innumerable foundations in the countries of the old world, intended
for poor boys, which have been gradually appropriated by the rich. Of
others again, supposed to be for both boys and girls, from which the
girls have long been excluded. The splendid technical schools of this
country, nominally open to all boys, at least, are by their very terms
closed to the poor boy, however gifted. To give to him that hath
is the tendency against which we must ever guard in planning and
administering systems of public education. With many, perhaps most,
educational institutions, as they grow older, more and more do they
incline to improve the standards of their work, technically speaking,
but to bestow their benefits upon comparatively fewer and fewer

I would not be understood to deprecate original research, or the
training of expert professional workers in any field, still less as
undervaluing thoroughness in any department of teaching. But I plead
for a sense of proportion, that as long as the world is either so poor
or its wealth and opportunities so unequally distributed, a certain
minimum of vocational training shall be insured to all.

We recognize the need for thorough training in the case of the coming
original investigator, and the expert professional, and they form the
minority. We do not recognize the at least equally pressing need for
the thorough training of the whole working population, and these make
up the vast majority. In so far as the pre-vocational work in primary
schools, the manual work and technical training in high schools,
the short courses, the extension lectures and the correspondence
instruction of universities are meeting this urgent popular need, just
so far are they raising all work to a professional standard, just so
far are they bringing down to the whole nation the gifts of culture
and expert training that have hitherto been the privilege of the few.

I have often noticed college professors, in turning over the leaves of
a university calendar or syllabus of lectures, pass lightly over the
pages recounting the provision made for short courses, summer schools,
extension or correspondence work, and linger lovingly over the
fuller and more satisfactory program outlined for the teacher or
the professional worker. The latter is only apparently the more
interesting. Take Wisconsin's College of Agriculture, for example. It
sends forth yearly teachers and original investigators, but quite as
great and important a product are the hundreds of farmers and farmers'
sons who come fresh from field and dairy to take their six weeks'
training in the management of cattle or of crops, and to field and
dairy return, carrying away with them the garnered experience of
others, as well as increased intelligence and self-reliance in
handling the problems of their daily toil.

Anna Garlin Spencer, in her "Woman and Social Culture," points out
how our much-lauded schools of domestic economy fail to benefit the
schoolgirl, through this very overthoroughness and expensiveness how
they are narrowed down to the turning out of teachers of domestic
economy and dietitians and other institutional workers. Domestic
economy as a wage-earning vocation cannot be taught too thoroughly,
but what every girl is entitled to have from the public school during
her school years is a "short course" in the simple elements of
domestic economy, with opportunity for practice. It is nothing so very
elaborate that girls need, but that little they need so badly. Such a
course has in view the girl as a homemaker, and is quite apart from
her training as a wage-earner.

When again we turn to that side, matters are not any more promising.
If the boy of the working classes is badly off for industrial
training, his sister is in far worse case. Some provision is already
made for the boy, and more is coming his way presently, but of
training for the girl, which shall be adequate to fit her for
self-support, we hear hardly anything. We have noted that women are
already in most of the trades followed by men, and that the number of
this army of working, wage-earning women is legion; that they are
not trained at all, and are so badly paid that as underbidders they
perpetually cut the wages of men. Nay, the young working-girl is even
"her own worst competitor--the competitor against her own future home,
and as wife and mother she may have to live on the wage she herself
has cheapened."

And to face a situation like this are we making any adequate
preparation? With how little we are satisfied, let me illustrate.
In the address of Mrs. Raymond Robins as president of the National
Women's Trade Union League of America before their Fourth Biennial
Convention in St. Louis, in June, 1913, she told how "in a curriculum
of industrial education we find that under the heading 'Science' boys
study elementary physics, mechanics and electricity, and girls the
action of alkalies, and the removal of stains. While under 'Drawing'
we read, 'For boys the drawing will consist of the practical
application of mechanical and free-hand work to parts of machinery,
house plans, and so forth. Emphasis will be placed upon the reading of
drawings, making sketches of machine parts quickly and accurately. For
the girls the drawing will attempt to apply the simple principles
of design and color to the work. The girls will design and stencil
curtains for the dining-and sewing-rooms and will make designs for
doilies for the table. They will plan attractive spacing for tucks,
ruffles and embroidery for underwear.' Women have entered nearly three
hundred different occupations and trades in America within the past
quarter of a century, three hundred trades and occupations, and they
are to qualify for these by learning to space tucks attractively."

In the very valuable Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the Commissioner of
Labor, published in 1910, which is devoted to industrial education,
there is but one chapter dealing with girls' industrial schools,
in itself a commentary upon the backwardness of the movement for
industrial education where girls are affected. It is true that the
schools included under this heading do not account for all the school
trade-training given to girls in this country, for the classification
of industrial schools, where there is no general system, is
very difficult, and under no plan of tabulation can there be an
all-inclusive heading for any one type. For instance a school for
colored girls might be classified either as a school for Negroes or as
a school for girls, as a public school, a philanthropic school, or an
evening school, and a school giving trade-training to boys might also
include girls. The writer of this most exhaustive report, however,
states definitely that "trade schools for girls are rare, and even
schools offering them industrial courses as a part of their work are
not common."

It is impossible to consider vocational training without bearing in
mind the example of Germany. Germany has been the pioneer in this work
and has laid down for the rest of us certain broad principles, even if
there are in the German systems some elements which are unsuitable to
this country. These general principles are most clearly exemplified
in the schools of the city of Munich. Indeed, when people talk of the
German plan, they nearly always mean the Munich plan. What it aims at

1. To deal in a more satisfactory way with the eighty or ninety per
cent. of children who leave school for work at fourteen, and to bridge
over with profit alike to the child, the employer and the community
the gap between fourteen and sixteen which is the unsolved riddle of
educators everywhere today.

2. To retain the best elements of the old apprenticeship system,
though in form so unlike it. The boy (for it mainly touches boys) is
learning his trade and he is also working at his trade, and he has
cultural as well as industrial training, and this teaching he receives
during his working hours and in his employer's time.

3. To provide teachers who combine ability to teach, with technical

4. To insure, through joint boards on which both employers and workmen
are represented, even if these boards are generally advisory, only an
interlocking of the technical class and the factory, without which any
system of vocational instruction must fall down.[A]

[Footnote A: As to how far this is the case, there is a difference
of opinion among authorities. Professor F.W. Roman, who has made so
exhaustive a comparative study of vocational training in the United
States and Germany, writes: "In Germany, there is very little local
control of schools, or anything else. The authority in all lines is
highly centralized." (The Industrial and Commercial Schools of the
United States and Germany, 1915, p. 324.) Dr. Kerchensteiner is quoted
by the Commercial Club of Chicago as saying, in a letter to Mr. Edwin
G. Cooley, that the separate administrative school-boards of Munich
form an essential part of the city's school-system.]

5. To maintain a system which shall reach that vast bulk of the
population, who, because they need technical training most urgently,
are usually the last to receive it.

Many of the most advanced educators in this country join issue with
the usual German practice on some most important points. These
consider that it is not sufficient that there be a close interlocking
of the technical school and class and the factory. It is equally
essential that vocational education, supported by public funds, shall
be an integral part of the public-school system, of which it is indeed
but a normal development, and therefore that we must have a unit and
not a dual system. Only thus can we insure that vocational education
will remain education at all and not just provide a training-school
for docile labor as an annex and a convenient entrance hall to the
factory system. Only thus can we insure democracy in the control of
this new branch of public activity. Only thus can the primary schools
be kept in touch with the advanced classes, so that the teacher, from
the very kindergarten up, may feel that she is a part of a complete
whole. Then indeed will all teachers begin to echo the cry of one whom
I heard say: "You ask us to fit the children for the industries. Let
us see if the industries are fit for the children."

Another point in which we must somewhat modify any European model is
in the limited training provided for girls. A country which is
frankly coeducational in its public schools, state universities and
professional colleges, must continue to be so when installing a new
educational department to meet the changed and changing conditions of
our time.

The parliament of organized labor in the United States has taken a
liberal view and laid down an advanced program on the subject of
vocational training. In 1908 the American Federation of Labor
appointed a committee on industrial education consisting of nineteen
members, of whom two were women, Agnes Nestor, International Secretary
of the Glove Workers' Union, and Mrs. Raymond Robins, President of the
National Women's Trade Union League of America. Its very first report,
made in 1909, recommended that the Federation should request the
United States Department of Commerce and Labor to investigate the
subject of industrial education in this country and abroad.

The report of the American Federation of Labor itself, includes
a digest of the United States Bureau of Labor's report, and was
published as Senate Document No. 936. It is called "The Report of the
Committee on Industrial Education of the American Federation of Labor,
compiled and edited by Charles H. Winslow."

Whatever narrowness and inconsistency individual trade unionists may
be charged with regarding industrial education, the leaders of the
labor movement give it their endorsement in the clearest terms. For
instance, this very report, comments those international unions which
have already established supplemental trade courses, such as the
Typographical Union, the Printing Pressmen's Union, and the Photo
Engravers' Union, and other local efforts, such as the School for
Carpenters and Bricklayers in Chicago and the School for Carriage,
Wagon, and Automobile Workers of New York City. All trade unions which
have not adopted a scheme of technical education are advised to take
the matter up.

On the question of public-school training, the American Federation of
Labor is no less explicit and emphatic, favoring the establishment of
schools in connection with the public-school system in which pupils
between fourteen and sixteen may be taught the principles of the
trades, with local advisory boards, on which both employers and
organized labor should have seats. But by far the most fundamental
proposal is the following. After outlining the general instruction on
accepted lines, they proceed as follows:

"The shop instruction for particular trades, and for each trade
represented, the drawing, mathematics, mechanics, physical and
biological science applicable to the trade, the history of that
trade, and a sound system of economics, including and emphasizing the
philosophy of collective bargaining."

The general introduction of such a plan of training would mean that
the young worker would start out on his wage-earning career with an
intelligent understanding of the modern world, and of his relations to
his employer and to his fellow-laborers, instead of, as at present,
setting forth with no knowledge of the world he is entering, and
moreover, with his mind clogged with a number of utterly out-of-date
ideas, as to his individual power of control over wages and working

[Footnote A: History, as it is usually taught, is not considered from
the industrial viewpoint, nor in the giving of a history lesson
are there inferences drawn from it that would throw light upon the
practical problems that are with us today, or that are fast advancing
to meet us. When a teacher gives a lesson on the history of the United
States, there is great stress laid upon the part played by individual
effort. All through personal achievements are emphasized. The
instructor ends here, on the high note that personal exertion is the
supreme factor of success in life, failing unfortunately to point out
how circumstances have changed, and that even personal effort may have
to take other directions. Of the boys and girls in the schools of the
United States today between nine and fourteen years of age, over eight
millions in 1910, how many will leave school knowing the important
facts that land is no longer free, and that the tools of industry
are no more, as they once were, at the disposal of the most
willing-worker? And that therefore (Oh, most important therefore!) the
workers must work in cooeperation if they are to retain the rights
of the human being, and the status signified by that proud name, an
American citizen.]

If we wish to know the special demands of working-women there is no
way so certain as to consult the organized women. They alone are at
liberty to express their views, while the education they have had
in their unions in handling questions vital to their interests as
wage-earners, and as leaders of other women gives clearness and
definiteness to the expression of those views.

If organized women can best represent the wage-earners of their sex,
we can gain the best collective statement of their wishes through
them. At the last convention of the National Women's Trade Union
League in June, 1913, the subject of industrial education received
very close attention. The importance of continuation schools after
wage-earning days have commenced was not overlooked. An abstract of
the discussion and the chief resolutions can be found in the issue of
_Life and Labor_ for August, 1913.

After endorsing the position taken up by the American Federation of
Labor, the women went on to urge educational authorities to arm the
children, while yet at school, with a knowledge of the state and
federal laws enacted for their protection, and asked also "that such
a course shall be of a nature to equip the boy and girl with a full
sense of his or her responsibility for seeing that the laws are
enforced," the reason being that the yearly influx of young boys and
girls into the industrial world in entire ignorance of their own state
laws is one of the most menacing facts we have to face, as their
ignorance and inexperience make exploitation easy, and weaken the
force of such protective legislation as we have.

Yet another suggestion was that "no working certificates be issued to
a boy or girl unless he or she has passed a satisfactory examination
in the laws which have been enacted by the state for their

In making these claims, organized working-women are keeping themselves
well in line with the splendid statement of principles enunciated by
that great educator, John Dewey:

The ethical responsibility of the school on the social side must
be interpreted in the broadest and freest spirit; it is equivalent
to that training of the child which will give him such possession
of himself that he may take charge of himself; may not only adapt
himself to the changes that are going on, but have power to shape
and direct them.

When we ask for coeducation on vocational lines, the question is sure
to come up: For how long is a girl likely to use her training in a
wage-earning occupation? It is continually asserted and assumed she
will on the average remain in industry but a few years. The mature
woman as a wage-earner, say the woman over twenty-five, we have been
pleased to term and to treat as an exception which may be ignored in
great general plans. Especially has this been so in laying out schemes
for vocational training, and we find the girl being ignored, not only
on the usual ground that she is a girl, but for the additional,
and not-to-be-questioned reason that it will not pay to give her
instruction in any variety of skilled trades, because she will be
but a short time in any occupation of the sort. Hence this serves to
increase the already undue emphasis placed upon domestic training as
all that a girl needs, and all that her parents or the community ought
to expect her to have. This is only one of the many cases when we try
to solve our new problems by reasoning based upon conditions that have
passed or that are passing away.

In this connection some startling facts have been brought forward by
Dr. Leonard P. Ayres in the investigations conducted by him for the
Russell Sage Foundation. He tried to find the ages of all the women
who are following seven selected occupations in cities of the United
States of over 50,000 population. The occupations chosen were those in
which the number of women workers exceeds one for every thousand of
the population. The number of women covered was 857,743, and is just
half of all the women engaged in gainful employment in those cities.
The seven occupations listed are housekeeper, nursemaid, laundress,
saleswoman, teacher, dressmaker and servant. No less than forty-four
per cent. of the housekeepers are between twenty-five and forty-four.
Of dressmakers there are fifty-one per cent. between these two ages;
of teachers fifty-eight per cent.; of laundresses forty-nine per
cent., while the one occupation of which a little more than half are
under twenty-five years is that of saleswoman, and even here there are
barely sixty-one per cent., leaving the still considerable proportion
of thirty-nine per cent. of saleswomen over the age of twenty-five.
It is pretty certain that these mature women have given more than the
favorite seven years to their trade. It is to be regretted that the
investigation was not made on lines which would have included some of
the factory occupations. It is difficult to see why it did not. Under
any broad classification there must be more garment-workers, for
instance, in New York or Chicago, than there are teachers. However, we
have reason to be grateful for the fine piece of work which Dr. Ayres
has done here.

The _Survey_, in an editorial, also quotes in refutation of the
seven-year theory, the findings of the commission which inquired
into the pay of teachers in New York. The commissioners found that
forty-four per cent. of the women teachers in the public schools had
been in the service for ten years or more, and that only twenty-five
per cent. of the men teachers had served as long a term.

It can hardly be doubted that the tendency is towards the lengthening
of the wage-earning life of the working-woman. A number of factors
affect the situation, about most of which we have as yet little
definite information. There is first, the gradual passing of the
household industries out of the home. Those women, for whom the
opportunity to be thus employed no longer is open, tend to take up or
to remain longer in wage-earning occupations.

The changing status of the married woman, her increasing economic
independence and its bearing upon her economic responsibility, are all
facts having an influence upon woman as a wage-earning member of the
community, but how, and in what degree, they affect her length of
service, is still quite uncertain. It is probable too, that they
affect the employment or non-employment of women very differently in
different occupations, but how, and in what degree they do so is mere
guess-work at present.

Much pains has been expended in arguing that any system of vocational
training should locally be co-related with the industries of the
district. Vain effort! For it appears that the workers of all ages are
on the move all the time. Out of 22,027 thirteen-year-old boys in the
public schools of seventy-eight American cities, only 12,699, or a
little more than half, were living in the places of their birth. And
considering the _wanderlust_ of the young in any case, is anything
more probable than that the very first thing a big proportion of this
advancing body of "vocationally trained" young men and women will want
to do will be to try out their training in some other city? And why
should they not?

If there has ever been voiced a tenderer plea for a universal
education that shall pass by no child, boy or girl, than that of Stitt
Wilson, former Socialist Mayor of Berkeley, I do not know it. If there
has ever been outlined a finer ideal of an education fitting the
child, every child, to take his place and fill his place in the new
world opening before him, I have not heard of it. He asks that we
should submit ourselves to the leadership of the child--his needs, his
capacities, his ideal hungers--and in so doing we shall answer many
of the most disturbing and difficult problems that perplex our
twentieth-century civilization. Even in those states which make the
best attempt at educating their children, from three-fourths to
nine-tenths, according to the locality, leave the schools at the age
of thirteen or fourteen, and the present quality of the education
given from the age of twelve to sixteen is neither an enrichment in
culture, nor a training for life and livelihood. It is too brief for
culture, and is not intended for vocation.

Mr. Wilson makes no compromise with existing conditions; concedes not
one point to the second-rate standards that we supinely accept; faces
the question of cost, that basic difficulty which most theoretical
educators waive aside, and which the public never dreams of trying to
meet and overcome. Here are some of his proposals.

The New Education [he writes] will include training and experience
in domestic science, cookery and home-making; agriculture and
horticulture; pure and applied science, and mechanical and
commercial activities with actual production, distribution and
exchange of commodities. Such training for three to six millions
of both sexes from the age of twelve to twenty-one years will
require land, tools, buildings of various types, machinery,
factory sites by rail and water, timber, water and power sources.

As all civilization is built upon the back of labor, and as
all culture and leisure rests upon labor, and is not possible
otherwise, so all cultural and liberal education, as generally
understood, shall be sequent to the productive and vocational. The
higher intellectual education should grow out of and be earned by
productive vocational training.

Hence our schools should be surrounded by lands of the best
quality obtainable, plots of 10, 50, 100 and more acres. These
lands should be the scene of labor that would be actually
productive and not mere play.... In such a school the moral
elements of labor should be primary, viz.: joy to the producer,
through industry and art; perfect honesty in quality of material
and character of workmanship; social cooeperation, mutualism, and
fellowship among the workers or students; and last, but not least,
justice--that is, the full product of labor being secured to the

He plans to make the schools largely self-supporting, partly through
land endowments easier to obtain under the system of taxation of land
values that is possibly near at hand in the Golden State, for which
primarily the writer is planning. The other source of income would be
from the well-directed labor of the students themselves, particularly
the older ones. He quotes Professor Frank Lawrence Glynn, of the
Vocational School at Albany, New York, as having found that the
average youth can, not by working outside of school hours, but in the
actual process of getting his own education, earn two dollars a week
and upward. Elsewhere, Mr. Wilson shows that the beginnings of such
schools are to be found in operation today, in some of the best reform
institutions of the country.

For all who desire university training, this would open the door. They
would literally "work their way" through college. One university'
president argues for some such means of helping students: "We need
not so much an increase of beneficiary funds as an increase of the
opportunities for students to earn their living." This is partly
to enable them to pay; for their courses and thereby acquire an
education, but chiefly because through supporting themselves they gain
self-confidence and therefore the power of initiative.[A]

[Footnote A: "The social and educational need for vocational training
is equally urgent. Widespread vocational training will democratize
the education of the country: (1) by recognizing different tastes and
abilities, and by giving an equal opportunity to all to prepare for
their lifework; (2) by extending education through part-time and
evening instruction to those who are at work in the shop or on
the farm." Report of the Commission on National Aid to Vocational
Instruction, 1914, page 12.]



It is a lamentable fact that the wholesome and normal tendency towards
organization which is now increasingly noticeable among working-women
has so far remained unrelated to that equally normal and far more
deeply rooted and universal tendency towards marriage.

As long as the control of trade unionism among women remained with
men, no link between the two was likely to be forged; the problem
is so entirely apart from any that men unionists ever have to face
themselves. It is true that with a man the question of adhering to
a union alike in times of prosperity or times of stress may be
complicated by a wife having a "say-so," through her enthusiasm or her
indifference when it means keeping up dues or attending meetings; yet
more, when belonging to a union may mean being thrown out of work or
ordered on strike, just when there has been a long spell of sickness
or a death with all the attendant expenses, or when perhaps a new
baby is expected or when the hard winter months are at hand and the
children are lacking shoes and clothes. Still, roughly speaking, a man
worker is a unionist or a non-unionist just the same, be he single or

But how different it is with a girl! The counter influence exerted by
marriage upon organization is not confined to those girls who leave
the trade, and of course the union, if they have belonged to one,
after they have married. The possibility of marriage and especially
the exaggerated expectations girls entertain as to the improvement in
their lot which marriage will bring them is one of the chief adverse
influences that any organization composed of women or containing many
women members has to reckon with, an influence acting all the time on
the side of those employers who oppose organization among their girls.

It has been the wont of many men unionists in the past and is the
custom of not a few today, to accept at its face value the girl's own
argument: "What's the use of our joining the union? We'll be getting
married presently." It is much the same feeling, although unspoken,
that underlies the ordinary workingman's unwillingness to see women
enter his trade and his indifference to their status in the trade once
they have entered it. The man realizes that this rival of his is but a
temporary worker, and he often, too often, excuses himself tacitly,
if not in words, from making any effort to aid her in improving her
position or from using his influence and longer experience to secure
for her any sort of justice, forgetting that the argument, "She'll
soon get married" is a poor one at best, seeing that as soon as one
girl does marry her place will immediately be filled by another, as
young, as inexperienced as she had been, and as utterly in need of the
protection that experienced and permanent co-workers could give her.
The girl, although she guesses it not, is only too frequently made the
instrument of a terrible retribution; for the poor wage, which was
all that she in her individual helplessness was able to obtain for
herself, is used to lower the pay of the very man, who, had he stood
by her, might have helped her to a higher wage standard and at the
same time preserved his own.

Again, the probability of the girl marrying increases on all sides the
difficulties encountered in raising standards alike of work and of
wages. Bound up with direct payment are those indirect elements of
remuneration or deduction from remuneration covered by length of
working-hours and by sanitary conditions, since whatever saps the
girl's energy or undermines her health, whether overwork, foul air,
or unsafe or too heavy or overspeeded machinery, forms an actual
deduction from her true wages, besides being a serious deduction from
the wealth-store, the stock of well-being, of the community.

Up till comparatively recent times the particular difficulties I
have been enumerating did not exist, since, under the system of home
industries universal before the introduction of steam-power, there was
not the same economic competition between men and women, nor was there
this unnatural gap between the occupation of the woman during her
girlhood and afterwards in her married life. In the majority of cases,
indeed, she only continued to carry on under her husband's roof the
very trades which she had learned and practiced in the home of her
parents. And this applied equally to the group of trades which we
still think of as part of the woman's natural home life, baking and
cooking and cleaning and sewing, and to that other group which have
become specialized and therefore are now pursued outside the home,
such as spinning and weaving. It was true also in large part of the
intrinsically out-of-door employments, such as field-work.

In writing about a change while the process is still going on, it is
extremely difficult to write so as not to be misunderstood. For there
are remote corners, even of the United States, where the primitive
conditions still subsist, and where woman still bears her old-time
relation to industry, where the industrial life of the girl flows on
with no gap or wrench into the occupational life of the married woman.
Through wifehood and motherhood she indeed adds to her burdens, and
complicates her responsibilities, but otherwise she spends her days
in much the same fashion as before, with some deduction, often, alas,
inadequate, to allow for the bearing and rearing of her too frequent
babies. Also in the claims that industry makes upon her in her
relation to the productive life of the community, under such primitive
conditions, her life rests upon the same basis as before.

As a telling illustration of that primitive woman's occupations, as
she carries them on among us today, the following will serve. Quite
recently a friend, traveling in the mountainous regions of Kentucky,
at the head of Licking Creek, had occasion to call at a little
mountain cabin, newly built out of logs, the chinks stopped up
with clay, evidently the pride and the comfort of the dwellers. It
consisted of one long room. At one end were three beds. In the center
was the family dining-table, and set out in order on one side a number
of bark-seated hickory chairs made by the forest carpenters. On the
other a long bench, probably intended for the younger members of the
family. Facing the door, as the visitor entered, was a huge open
fireplace, with a bar across, whence hung three skillets of kettles
for the cooking of the food. The only occupant of the cabin at that
hour in the afternoon was an old woman. She was engaged in combing
into smoothness with two curry-combs a great pile of knotted wool,
washed, but otherwise as it came off the sheep's back. The wool was
destined to be made into blankets for the household. The simple
apparatus for the carrying-out of the whole process was there at hand,
for the spinning-wheel stood back in a corner of the room, while the
big, heavy loom had, for convenience' sake, been set up on the porch.
That old woman's life may be bare and narrow enough in many ways, but
at least she is rich and fortunate in having the opportunity for the
exercise of a skilled trade, and in it an outlet for self-expression,
and even for artistic taste in the choice of patterns and colors.
Far different the lot of the factory worker with her monotonous and
mindless repetition of lifeless movements at the bidding of the
machine she tends. The Kentucky mountain woman was here practicing in
old age the art she had acquired in her girlhood. Those early lessons
which had formed her industrial education, were of life-long value,
both in enriching her own life, and by adding to her economic and
therefore social value, alike as a member of her own household, and as
a contributor to the wealth of the little community.

We once had, universally, and there still can be found in such
isolated regions, an industrial arrangement, soundly based upon
community and family needs, and even more normally related to the
woman's own development, better expressing many sides of her nature
than do the confused and conflicting claims of the modern family and
modern industry render possible for vast numbers today. And this,
although wide opportunity for personal and individual development was
so sadly lacking, and the self-abnegation expected from women was so
excessive, that the intellectual and emotional life must often have
been a silent tragedy of repression.

Among our modern working-women in urban localities, we find today no
such settled plan for thus directing the activities of women to meet
modern needs and conditions. Neither home nor school furnishes our
girls with a training fitting them for a rich and varied occupational
life. The pursuits into which most of them drift or are driven, do
indeed result in the production of a vast amount of manufactured
goods, food, clothing, house and personal furnishings of all sorts,
and of machinery with which may be manufactured yet more goods. Much
of this product is both useful and beneficial to us all, but there
are likewise mountains of articles fashioned, neither useful nor
beneficial, nor resulting in any sort of use, comfort or happiness to
anyone: adulterated foods, shoddy clothes, and toys that go to pieces
in an hour.

Certainly the girl worker of this twentieth century produces per head,
and with all allowances made for the cost of the capital invested in
factory and machinery, and for superintendence, far and away more in
amount and in money value than did her girl ancestor of a hundred
years ago, or than her contemporary girl ancestor of today in the
Kentucky and Tennessee mountains, or than her other sister, the
farmer's daughter in agricultural regions, who still retains hold of
and practices some of the less primitive industries.

But the impulse to congratulate ourselves upon this vastly increased
product of labor is checked when we take up the typically modern
girl's life at a later stage. We have observed already that her life
during her first fourteen years is utterly unrelated to the next
period, which she spends in store or factory. The training of her
childhood has been no preparation for the employments of her girlhood.
She is but an unskilled hand, the last cog in a machine, and if these
prove but seven lean years for her, it is only what we might expect.
When they are ended, and married life entered upon, we are again
struck by the absence of any relation between either of these two
life-periods and the stage preceding, and by the fact that at no time
is any intelligent preparation made either for a wage-earning or
a domestic career. This means an utter dislocation between the
successive stages of woman's life, a dislocation, the unfortunate
results of which, end not with the sex directly affected, but bring
about a thousand other evils, the lowering of the general wage
standard, the deterioration of home life, and serious loss to
the children of the coming generation. As far as we know, such a
dislocation in the normal development of women's lives never took
place before on any large scale. I am speaking of it here solely in
relation to the sum of the well-being of the whole community. As it
affects the individual girl and woman herself it has been dealt with
under other heads.

The cure which the average man has to propose is pithily summed up in
the phrase: "Girls ought to stay at home." The home as woman's
sole sphere is even regarded as the ultimate solution of the whole
difficulty by many men, who know well that it is utterly impracticable
today. A truer note was struck by John Work, when addressing himself
specially to socialist men:

It would be fatal to our prospects of reaching the women with
the message of socialism if we were to give the millions of
wage-earning women to understand that we did not intend to let
them continue earning their own living, but proposed to compel
them to become dependent upon men. They price what little
independence they have, and they want more of it.

It would be equally fatal to our prospects of reaching the women
with the message of socialism if we were to give the married women
to understand that they must remain dependent upon men. It is one
of the most hopeful signs of the times that they are chafing under
the galling chains of dependence.

* * * * *

Far from shutting women out of the industries, socialism will do
just the opposite.

It will open up to every woman a full and free opportunity to earn
her own living and receive her full earnings.

This means the total cessation of marrying for a home.

The degree of irritation that so many men show when expressing
themselves on the subject of women in the trades is the measure of
their own sense of incompetence to handle it. The mingled apathy and
impatience with which numbers of union men listen to any proposal to
organize the girls with whom they work arises from the same mental
attitude. "These girls have come into our shop. We can't help it.
We didn't ask them. They should be at home. Let them take care of

The inconsistency of such a view is seen when we consider that in the
cities at least an American father (let alone a foreign-born father)
is rarely found nowadays objecting to his own girls going out to work
for wages. He expects it, unless one or more are needed by their
mother at home to help with little ones or to assist in a small family
store or home business. He takes it as a matter of course that his
girls go to work as soon as they leave school, just as his boys do.
And yet the workman in a printing office, we will say, whose own
daughter is earning her living as a stenographer or teacher, will
resent the competition of women type-setters, and will both resent and
despise those daughters of poorer fathers, who have found their way
into the press or binding-rooms. Unionists or non-unionists, such men
ignore the fact that all these girls have just as much right to earn
an honest living at setting type, or folding or tipping and in so
doing to receive the support and protection of any organization there
is, as their own daughters have to take wages for the hours they spend
in schoolroom or in office. The single men but echo the views of the
older ones when such unfortunately is the shop tone, and may be even
more indifferent to the girls' welfare and to the bad economic results
to all workers of our happy-go-lucky system or no-system.

I do not wish to be understood as accepting either the girl's present
economic position or the absorption in purely domestic occupations of
the workingman's wife as a finality. It is a transitional stage that
we are considering. I look forward to a time, I believe it to be
rapidly approaching, when the home of the workingman, like everyone's
else home, will be truly the home, the happy resting-place, the
sheltering nest of father, mother and children, and when through the
rearrangement of labor, the workingman's wife will be relieved from
her monotonous existence of unrelieved domestic drudgery and overwork,
disguised under the name of wifely and maternal duties, when the
cooking and the washing, for instance, will be no more part of
the home life in the humblest home than in the wealthiest. The
workingman's wife will then share in the general freedom to occupy
part of her time in whatever occupation she is best fitted for, and,
along with every other member of the community she will share in the
benefits arising from the better organisation of domestic work.

However, this blessed change has not yet come to pass, and of all
city-dwellers, the wife of the workingman seems to be furthest away
from the benefits of the transformation. Therefore, in considering
the connection between the girl's factory life and her probable
occupational future in married life, I have purposely avoided dwelling
upon what is bound to arrive some time in the future, and have tried
to face facts as they exist today, dealing as far as possible with the
difficulties of the generation of girls now in the factories, those
about to enter, and those passing out, remembering only, with a
patience-breeding sense of relief, that the conditions of today may
not necessarily be the conditions of tomorrow.

I therefore accept in its full meaning domesticity, as practiced by
the most domestic woman, and as preached by the domestic woman's most
ardent advocate among men. Nor am I expressing resentment at the fact
that when a girl leaves the machine-speeded work of the factory, it is
only to take up the heavy burden of the workingman's wife, as we know
it. She must be wife and mother, and manager of the family income, and
cook and laundress and housemaid and seamstress. The improvement of
her position and the amelioration of her lot can only come slowly,
through social changes, as expressed in the woman movement, and
through the widening scope of the principle of specialization.

Even today, without any such radical changes as are foreshadowed
above, the gap between schooldays and working years, between working
years and married life, can to some extent be bridged over if we plan
to do so from the beginning. As has been shown, organized women are
already advocating some such orderly plan for the girl's school
training, as should blend book-learning with manual instruction and
simple domestic accomplishments. But also, in order to deal justly
and fairly by the girl, any reasonable scheme of things would also
presuppose such strict control of the conditions of industry, that
hours would be reasonably short, that in the building and running of
machinery there should be borne in mind always the safety and health
of the workers, instead of, as today, expecting almost all the
adaptation to be on the part of the worker, through pitting the
flexible, delicate, and easily injured human organism against the
inflexible and tireless machine. Other essential conditions would be
the raising of the standard of living, and therefore of remuneration,
for all, down to the weakest and least skilled, and the insistence
upon equal pay for equal work, tending to lessen the antagonism
between men and women on the industrial field. Thus doubly prepared
and adequately protected the girl would pass from her wage-earning
girlhood into home and married life a fresher, less exhausted creature
than she usually is now. Further, she would be more likely to bring to
the bearing and rearing of her children a constitution unenfeebled
by premature overwork and energies unsapped by its monotonous grind.
Again, her understanding of industrial problems would make her a more
intelligent as well as a more sympathetic helpmate. Hand in hand,
husband and wife would more hopefully tackle fresh industrial
difficulties as these arose, and they would do so with some slight
sense of the familiarity that is the best armor in life's battle.

Besides there is the other possibility, all too often realized, that
lies in the background of every such married woman's consciousness.
She may be an ideally domestic woman, spending her time and strength
on her home and for the Welfare of her husband and children, yet
through no fault of hers, her home may be lost to her, or if not
lost, at least kept together only by her own unremitting efforts as a
wage-earner. It often happens that marriage in course of time proves
to be anything but an assurance of support. Early widowed, the young
mother herself may have to earn her children's bread. Or the husband
may become crippled, or an invalid, or he may turn out a drunkard and
a spendthrift. In any of these circumstances, the responsibility and
the burden of supporting the entire family usually falls upon the
wife. Is it strange that the group so often drift into undeserved
pauperism, sickness and misery, perhaps later on, even into those
depths of social maladjustment that bring about crime?

The poorly paid employment of office-cleaning is sadly popular among
widows and deserted wives, because, being followed during the evening,
and sometimes night hours, it leaves a mother free during the day to
attend to her cooking and housework and sewing, and be on the spot to
give the children their meals. Free! The irony of it! Free, that is,
to work sixteen hours or longer per day, and free to leave her little
ones in a locked-up room, while she earns enough to pay the rent and
buy the food. Ask any such widowed mother what she is thinking of, as
she plies mop and scrubbing-brush after the offices are closed and the
office force gone home, and she will tell you how she worries for fear
something may have happened to the baby while she is away. She wonders
whether she left the matches out of the reach of four-year-old Sammy;
and Bessie, who isn't very strong, is always so frightened when the
man on the floor above comes home late and quarrels with his wife.

The theory on which the poor woman was paid her wages when as a single
girl she used to draw her weekly pay-envelope, that a fair living wage
for a woman is what is barely sufficient to support herself, rather
falls down when a whole household has to be kept out of a girl's
miserable pay.

All these difficulties would be eased for such overburdened ones, if
their early training had been such as to leave them equipped to meet
the vicissitudes of fortune on fairer terms, and if the conditions of
industrial life, allotting equal pay to workers of both sexes, had
also included reasonable opportunities for advancement to higher
grades of work with proportionately increased pay.

Meanwhile, married women, less handicapped than these, are
experimenting on their own account, and are helping to place the work
of wives as wage-earners on a more settled basis. The wife of the
workingman who has no children, and who lives in a city finds she has
not enough to do in the little flat which is their home. The stove
in winter needs little attention; there is not enough cooking and
cleaning to fill up her time, and as for sewing she can buy most of
their clothing cheaper than she can make it. But any little money she
can earn will come in useful; so she tries for some kind of work,
part-time work, if she can find it. In every big city there are
hundreds of young married women who take half-time jobs in our
department stores or who help to staff the lunch-rooms or wash up or
carry trays, or act as cashiers in our innumerable restaurants. As
half-day girls such waitresses earn their three or four dollars a
week, besides getting their lunch. Very frequently they do not admit
to their fellow-workers that they are married, for the single girl
with her own hard struggle on her hands is apt to resent such
competition. A worker who is in a position to accept voluntarily a
half-time job of this sort is one who must have some other means of
meeting part of her living expenses. A home in the background is such
an aid. The increasingly large number of part-time workers, lessen,
the others reckon, the number of jobs to be had by the ones that have
to work all day, and may tend also to lower wages, since any partly
subsidized worker can afford to take less than the girl who has to
support herself out of her earnings. The latter has never heard of
parasitic trades, and yet in her heart she knows there is something
not quite right here, something that she blindly feels she would like
to put an end to.

She is quite right in resisting any lowering of wages, but she will
have to accept this inroad into the trades of these exceptionally
placed married women. She will have to throw her efforts into another
channel, using organization to raise the position of working-women
generally into dignified industrial independence. For this still
limited number of half-time married women workers are but the leaf on
the stream, showing the direction events are taking. As specialization
goes on, as the domestic industries are more and more taken out of our
homes, as the gifted and trained teacher more and more shares in the
life of the child, more and more will the woman after she marries
continue to belong to the wage-earning class by being a part-time
worker. To propose eliminating the present (sometimes unfair)
competition of the married woman with the single girl, by excluding
her from any or every trade is as futile as the resentment of men
against all feminine rivals in industry.

We have been observing, so far, how the lives of women have been
modified, often, not for the better, by the industrial revolution. Let
us glance now in passing at the old home industries themselves, and
note what is still happening. One after another has been taken, not
merely out of the home, where they all originated, but out of the
hands of the sex who invented and developed them. Trade after trade
has thus been taken over from the control of women, and appropriated
and placed on a modern business basis by men. I make no criticism upon
this transference beyond remarking that you hear no howl about it
from the supplanted ones, as you never fail to do over the converse
process, when male workers are driven out of occupations to make way
for women, whose cheapness makes them so formidable an industrial
competitor. But whichever way it works, sex discrimination usually
bodes no good to the lasting interest of any of the workers. When a
trade passes out of the status of a home industry, and takes on the
dignity of an outside occupation, women are rarely in a position to
take hold of it in its new guise. We find men following it, partly
because they are more accustomed to think in terms of professional
skill, and partly because they are in the business swim, and can
more easily gain command of the capital necessary to start any new
enterprise. Men then proceed to hire the original owners as employes,
and women lose greatly in their economic status.

This is the general rule, though it is by no means wholly the sex
line that divides the old-fashioned houseworker from the specialized
professional, though this habitual difference in standing between
groups of different sex does tend to blur fundamental issues. The
economic struggle in its bare elements would be easy to follow
compared with the complex and perpetually changing forms in which it
is presented to us.

But the home industries are not yet fully accounted for and disposed
of. Some of the household occupations, essential once to the comfort
and well-being of the family, are shrinking in importance, prior to
vanishing before our eyes, because now they do not for the most part
represent an economical expenditure of energy. Meanwhile, however,
they linger on, a survival in culture, and in millions of homes today
the patient housewife is striving with belated tools to keep her
family fed and clothed and her house spotless.

Take the cleaning process, for example, and watch what is happening.
Dr. Helen Sumner draws attention to the fact that we ourselves are
witnessing its rapid transformation. It is being taken out of the
hands of the individual houseworker, who is wont to scrub, sweep and
dust in the intervals between marketing, cooking, laundry-work or
sewing, and by whom it is performed well or ill, but always according
to the standards of the individual household, which means that
there are no accepted standards in sweeping, scrubbing and dusting.
House-cleaning is becoming a specialized, skilled trade, performed by
the visiting expert and his staff of professionally trained employes.
Even if as yet these skilled and paid workers enter an ordinary home
only at long intervals, when the mystic process of spring cleaning
seems to justify the expense, the day is plainly in sight when the
usual weekly cleaning will be taken over by these same visitors.
At present the abruptness of the change is broken for us by the
introduction into the market, and the use by the house-mother
of various hand-driven machines, a vast improvement upon the
old-fashioned broom, and accustoming women to the idea of new and
better methods of getting rid of dirt. Few realize the tremendous
import of this comparatively insignificant invention, the atmospheric
cleaner, or what a radical change it is bringing about in the thoughts
of the housewife, whose ideas on the domestic occupations so far have
been mostly as confused as those of the charwoman, who put up on her
door the sign: "Scrubbing and Window-Cleaning Done Here." In the same
way the innumerable electric appliances of today are simplifying the
labors of the housewife; but their chief value is that through them
she is becoming accustomed to the thought of change, and being led on
to distinguish between the housework that can be simplified, and still
done at home, and the much larger proportion which must sooner or
later be relegated to the professional expert, either coming in
at intervals or performing the task elsewhere. And this is true,
fortunately, of women in the country as well as in the cities.

We have traveled a long way during the last hundred and fifty years
or so, and in that time have witnessed the complete transference from
home to factory of many home industries, notably spinning and weaving,
and soap-and candle-making. Others like the preparation of food are
still in process of transference. The factory industries are the
direct and legitimate offspring of the primitive home industries, and
their growth and development are entirely on the lines of a normal

[Illustration: _Courtesy of The Pine Mountain Settlement_ Primitive
Industry. Kentucky mountain woman at her spinning-wheel. 1913]

[Illustration: _Courtesy of The Chicago School of Civics and
Philanthropy_ Italian Woman Home Finisher]

But there is another form of industry that is a ghastly hybrid, the
"home-work" that has been born of the union of advanced factory
methods and primitive home appliances. Such a combination could never
have come into existence, had the working classes at the time of the
inception of machine-driven industry possessed either an understanding
of what was happening, or the power to prevent their own exploitation.
The effects of this home-work are in every way deadly. There is not a
single redeeming feature about the whole business. Like the spinner
or the weaver of olden times, the sewing-machine operator or the
shirt-finisher of the present day provides her own workroom, lighting
and tools, but unlike her, she enjoys no freedom in their use, nor has
she any control over the hours she works, the prices she asks or the
class of work she undertakes.

With the home-worker hard-driven by her sister in poverty, and driving
her in turn, helpless both in their ignorance under the modern
Juggernaut that is destroying them, pushed ever more cruelly by
relentless competition, the last stronghold, the poor little home
itself, goes down. The mother has no time to care for her children,
nor money wherewith to procure for them the care of others. In her
frantic desire to keep them alive, she holds the whip over her own
flesh and blood, who have to spend their very babyhood in tying
feather-flues or pulling out bastings. Home-work, this unnatural
product of nineteenth-century civilization, as an agency for summarily
destroying the home is unparalleled. Nor do its blighting effects end
with homes wrecked, and children neglected, stunted and slain. The
proud edifice of modern industry itself, on whose account homes
are turned into workshops, children into slaves, and mothers into
slave-drivers, is undermined and degraded by this illegitimate
competition, the most powerful of all factors in lowering wages, and
preventing organization among regular factory hands. The matter lies
in a nutshell. Industry which originated in the home could be safely
carried on there only as long as it remained simple and the operations
thereof such as one individual could complete. As soon as through the
invention of power-driven machinery industry reached the stage of high
specialization and division of labor, at once it became a danger to
the home, and the home a degradation to it. It was at the call of
specialized industry that the factory came into existence, and only in
the factory can it be safely housed.

A similar and, if it were possible, a worse form of family and group
slavery prevails outside of the cities in the poorer farming regions
and in the cotton states. It is harder to reach and to handle, and
there is cause to fear that it is increasing. Especially in the busy
season when the corn has to be harvested or the cotton picked the
mother is considered as a toiler first, and she is to have her babies
and look after her poor little home and her children as a mere
afterthought. The children are contributors to the family support from
the time they can toddle and schooling comes a bad second in making
the family arrangements. One reason for this growing evil is the
threatening degradation and disappearance of the independent farmer
class, who made up what would have been called in England formerly the
yeomanry of this country, and their replacement by a poor peasantry
degraded by the wretched terms upon which they are driven to snatch a
bare existence from a patch of land to which they are tied by lease,
by mortgage or by wages, and which they have neither the money nor the
knowledge to cultivate to advantage.

The Federal Commission on Industrial Relations has brought to light
some startling facts in this phase of our social life, as in many
others. I can refer to the evidence of but one witness. She speaks for
many thousands. This is as it is quoted in the daily press.

Picture for the moment the drama staged at Dallas.
Mrs. I. Borden Harriman of New York is presiding over
the commission. Mrs. Levi Stewart, the wife of a tenant
farmer, is on the witness stand. Mrs. Stewart is a shrinking
little woman with "faded eyes and broken body." She wears
a blue sunbonnet. Her dress of checkered material has lost
its color from long use. In a thin, nervous voice she
answers the questions of the distinguished leader of two
kinds of "society."

"Do you work in the fields?" Mrs. Harriman began.

"Yes, ma'am."

"How old were you when you married?"


"How old was your husband?"


"Did you work in the fields when you were a child?"

"Oh, yes'm, I picked and I chopped."

"Have you worked in the fields every year?"

"I do in pickin' and choppin' times."

"And you do the housework?'

"There ain't no one else to do it."

"And the sewing?"

"Yes, ma'am. I make all the clothes for the children
and myself. I make everything I wear ever since I was

"Do you make your hats?"

"Yes, ma'am. I make my hats. I had only two since I
was married."

"And how long have you been married?"

"Twenty years."

"Do you do the milking?"

"Most always when we can afford a cow."

"What time do you get up in the morning?"

"I usually gits up in time to have breakfast done by 4
o'clock in summer time. In the winter time we are through
with breakfast by sun-up."

"Did you work in the fields while you were carrying your

"Oh, yes, sometimes; sometimes almost nigh to birthin'

"Is this customary among the tenant farmers' wives you
have known?"

The answer was an affirmative nod.

Let us now once more consider the home, and compare factory operations
with the domestic arts. There is no doubt that in cooking, for
instance, the housewife finds scope for a far higher range of
qualifications than the factory girl exercises in preparing tomatoes
in a cannery, or soldering the cans after they are filled with the
cooked fruit. The housewife has first of all to market and next to
prepare the food for cooking. She has to study the proper degree of
heat, watch the length of time needed for boiling or baking in their
several stages, perhaps make additions of flavorings, and serve
daintily or can securely. There is scarcely any division of housework
which does not call for resource and alertness. Unfortunately,
however, although these qualities are indeed called for, they are
not always called forth, because the houseworker is not permitted to
concentrate her whole attention and interest upon any one class of
work, but must be constantly going from one thing to another. Hence
women have indeed acquired marvelous versatility, but at what a heavy
cost! The houseworker only rarely acquires perfect skill and deftness
or any considerable speed in performing any one process. Her
versatility is attained at the price of having no standards of
comparison established, and worse than all, at the price of working
in isolation, and therefore gaining no training in team-work, and so
never having an inkling of what organized effort means.

Our factory systems, on the other hand, go to the other extreme, being
so arranged that the majority of workers gain marvelous dexterity, and
acquire a dizzying rate of speed, while they are apt to lose in both
resourcefulness and versatility. They do not, however, suffer, to
anything like the same degree, from isolation, and factory life, even
where the employers are opposed to organization, does open a way to
the recognition of common difficulties and common advantages, and
therefore leads eventually in the direction of organization. In the
factory trades the workers have to some extent learnt to be vocal. It
is possible for an outsider to learn something of the inner workings
of an establishment. Upon the highly developed trades, the searchlight
of official investigation is every now and then turned. From
statistics we know the value of the output. We are also learning a
good deal about the workers, the environment that makes for health or
invalidism, or risk to life, and we are in a fair way to learn more.
The organized labor movement furnishes an expression, although still
imperfect, of the workers' views, and keeps before the public the
interests of the workers, even of the unorganized groups.

But with the domestic woman all this is reversed. In spite of the fact
that in numbers the home women far exceed the wage-earners, the value
of their output has been ignored, and as to the conditions under
which it is produced, not even the most advanced and progressive
statisticians have been able to arrive at any estimate. Of sentiment
tons have been lavished upon the extreme importance of the work of the
housewife in the home, sometimes, methinks, with a lingering misgiving
that she might not be too well content, and might need a little
encouragement to be induced to remain there. What adulation, too,
has been expended upon the work of even the domestic servant, with
comparisons in plenty unfavorable to the factory occupations into
which girls still persist in drifting. Yet in freedom and in social
status, two of the tests by which to judge the relative desirability
of occupations, the paid domestic employments take inferior ranks.
Again, they offer little prospect of advance, for they lead nowhere.

Further, as noted in an earlier chapter in the census reports all
women returning themselves as engaged in domestic duties (not being
paid employes), were necessarily not listed as gainfully employed. Yet
it is impossible to believe that compared with other ways of employing
time and energy, the hours that women spend in cooking and cleaning
for the family, even if on unavoidably primitive lines, have no value
to the community. Or again, that the hours a mother spends in caring
for her baby, later on in helping with the lessons, and fitting the
children for manhood or womanhood, have no value in the nation's
account book. I will be reminded that this is an unworthy way of
reckoning up the inestimable labors of the wife and mother. Perhaps
so. Yet personally, I should much prefer a system of social economics
which could estimate the items at a fair, not excessive value, and
credit them to the proper quarter.

A well-known woman publicist recently drew attention to the vast
number of the women engaged in domestic life, and expressed regret
that organizations like the National Women's Trade Union League
confined their attention so exclusively to the women and girls
employed in factories and stores, who, even today, fall so far short
numerically of their sisters who are working in the home or on
the farm. The point is an interesting one, but admits of a ready
explanation. Every movement follows the line of least resistance,
and a movement for the industrial organization of women must first
approach those in the most advanced and highly organized industries.
As I have shown, we really know very much more about the conditions of
factory workers than of home-workers. The former have, in a degree,
found their voice, and are able to give collective expression to their
common interests.

The League recently urged upon the Secretary for Labor, the
recognition, as an economic factor, of the work of women in the
household trades; the classification of these occupations, whether
paid or unpaid, on a par with other occupations, and lastly, that
there be undertaken a government investigation of domestic service.

In this connection a long step forward has just been taken through
the inquiries, which during the last two years, the Department of
Agriculture has been making as to the real position of women on the
farm, and has been making them of the women themselves. This came
about through a letter addressed to the Secretary from Mr. Clarence
Poe, Raleigh, North Carolina, under date of July 9, 1913, in which he
said: "Have some bulletins for the farmer's wife, as well as for the
farmer himself. The farm woman has been the most neglected factor
in the rural problem, and she has been especially neglected by the
National Department of Agriculture. Of course, a few such bulletins
are printed, but not enough."

A letter was accordingly sent out from Washington to the housewives of
the department's 55,000 volunteer crop correspondents, on the whole a
group of picked women. They were invited to state both their personal
views and the results of discussions with women neighbors, their
church organization or any women's organization to which they might
belong. To this letter 2,225 relevant replies were received, many
of these transmitting the opinions of groups of women in the

The letter asked "how the United States Department of Agriculture can
better meet the needs of farm housewives." Extracts from the replies
with comments have been published in the form of four bulletins. Many
of the letters make tragic reading: the want of any money of their
own; the never-ending hours; the bad roads and poor schools; neglect
in girlhood and at times of childbirth. A great many thoughtless
husbands will certainly be awakened to a sense of neglected
opportunities, as well as to many sins of commission.

The bulletins contain appendices of suggestions how farm women can
help one another, and how they may gain much help from the certainly
now thoroughly converted Department of Agriculture, through farmer's
institutes for women, through demonstrations and other extension
work under the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, and through the formation of
women's and girls' clubs.

It is of the utmost importance to society, as well as to herself, that
the whole economic status of the married woman, performing domestic
duties, should be placed upon a sounder basis. It is not as if the
unsatisfactory position of the average wife and mother could confine
its results to herself. Compared with other occupations, hers fulfills
none of the conditions that the self-respecting wage-earner demands.
The twenty-four-hour day, the seven-day week, no legal claim for
remuneration, these are her common working conditions. Other claims
which a husband can and usually does make upon her I leave unnoticed;
also the unquestioned claim of her children upon her time and
strength. Marital duties, as they are evasively termed, could not
be exacted from any wage servant. Moreover, the very existence of
children whom the married pair have called into being is but an
argument, on the one hand, for the father taking a larger share in
their care, and on the other, for the lightening of the mother's
multifarious burden by the better organization of all household work,
as well as everything that belongs to child culture and care.

The poor working conditions she suffers under, and the uncertainty of
her position, reduce many a woman's share in the married partnership
to that of an employe in a sweated trade. This kind of marriage,
therefore, like all other sweated trades tends to lower the general
market value of women's work. This is casting no reflection upon the
hundreds of thousands of husbands who do their part fairly, who share
and share alike whatever they have or earn with their wives. How many
a workingman regularly hands over to his wife for the support of the
home the whole of his earnings with perhaps the barest deduction,
a dollar or two, or sometimes only a few cents, for small personal
expenditures. Many wives enjoy complete power over the family purse.
Or the married pair decide together as to how much they can afford to
spend on rent and food and clothing, and when sickness or want of work
face them, they meet the difficulty together. The decisions made, it
is the wife who has the whole responsibility for the actual spending.

But though so often a man does fulfill in spirit as in letter his
promise to support, as well as to love and honor the girl he has
married, there is very little in the laws of any country to compel
him. And because the man can slip the collar more easily than the
woman can, the woman's position is rendered still more uncertain.
If she were an ordinary wage-worker, we should say of her that her
occupation was an unstandardized one, and that individually she was
too dependent upon the personal goodwill of another. Therefore,
like all other unstandardized callings, marriage, considered as an
occupation, tends to lower the general market value of woman's work.
Conversely, Cicely Hamilton in "Marriage as a Trade," points out that
the improvements in the economic position of the married woman, which
have come about in recent years, are partly at least due to the
successful efforts of single women to make themselves independent and

But during the process of transition, and while single women are
forging farther and farther ahead, many a married woman is finding
herself between the upper and the nether millstone. And unfortunately
precisely in the degree that the paid domestic worker is able to make
better arrangements in return for her services, whether as resident or
as visiting employe, many housemothers are likely for a time to find
conditions press yet more severely upon themselves. They will soon
have no one left upon whom they can shift their own burdens of
overwork, as they have so frequently done in the past. Sooner or later
they will be driven to take counsel with their fellows, and will then
assuredly plan some method of organizing housewives for mutual help
and cooeperation, and for securing from society some fairer recognition
of the true value of the contribution of the domestic woman to the
wealth of the community.

It is not strange that she with whom industry had its rise and upon
whom all society rests should be the last to benefit by the forces
of reorganization which are spiritually regenerating the race and
elevating it to a level never before reached. The very function of
sex, whose exercise enters into her relation with her husband, has
complicated what could otherwise have been a simple partnership. The
helplessness of her children and their utter dependence upon her,
which should have furnished her with an additional claim for
consideration, have only tied her more closely and have prevented her
from obtaining that meed of justice from society which a less valuable
servant had long ago won. But in the sistership of womanhood, now
for the first time admitted and hopefully accepted, fortunate and
unfortunate clasp hands, and go forward to aid in making that future
the whole world awaits today.



Olive Schreiner, in "Woman and Labor," lays it down as almost
axiomatic that "the women of no race or class will ever rise in revolt

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