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Domesticity & Work in Nineteenth-Century America

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Domesticity & Work in Nineteenth-century America

What is the “cult of true womanhood” according to the textbook?

According to the textbook, cult of true womanhood is term used to characterize dominant gender roles that were taken by white women during the antebellum period. The term introduces an ideology of women domesticity which distinguishes and labels women as guardians to homes.

What kinds of factory work did women do in the age of industrialization?

Women factory work in America commenced in the textile industry after the world war. Majority of the work they did was mill laborers who worked for thirteen hours, seven days with a weekly pay of between $1 and $2.

Who were the Lowell Girls?

Lowell girls were the young farm girls of the city of Lowell who were employed to work in the factories.

Why did working in factories carry such a stigma, especially in the eyes of other women?

Working in the factory came with stigma because it was one of the two options for women who had no male relative to offer support and could not marry as well. Another option was prostitution which could lead to short life. The factory was considered to belong to the poor and those whose families could not take care of them.

How gender and race intertwine worked for different women.

Slave owning white plantation women.

Since the north had illegalized slave trade, the few southern slave owning white women had an obvious economic advantage over their northern counterparts.  The southern white slave owners did not only gain economic advantage but also higher political and social status.

Non slave owning women

Most of them were members of the black antebellum middle class. They believed in the ideology of true womanhood as well as social and political activism. Their ideology was centered on educating emancipated slaves.

Slave women

Slave women were human property, everything they did including themselves were the property of their owners. They were capital generating machines in the form of human beings. The women, especially black women slaves were trade items and their life was significantly different from that of the northern black women.

Crib Sheet

Unknown Author

The Peculiar Responsibilities of the American Woman



Mary Boykin Chestnut

Through Catherine Beecher's book which is dedicated to explaining the art of bringing up children and setting up a home, she tries to explain the role of a woman in the society. By this she advocates for the place of women in the democracy of America. She explains that the women participate in the democracy as men do and they deserve both social and civil rights and freedoms. Although the book was written way before the American Revolution, it highlighted all the aspects of it.

The document was written to make the society rethink about the position of the women. It advocated for women to be given their civil and social rights instead of being asked to entrust them with the opposite gender

During this time, women were openly discriminated in the society. Their voice was not heard, and they were supposed to show no interest in the social or political interests of America. People like Beecher helped push the society to take notice of the women and give them a voice.

Mary Boykin Chesnut

A diary from Dixie



A diary kept by Mary Boykin Chesnutt gives a clear account of the position of slave mistress women in the American Society. She writes about how the black people's houses are full of mulatto children. Although the mulatto children look alike the white children, they are still treated as though their fathers are not white. The negro and mulatto women are sold into slavery, and when they become mistresses, they are considered as lesser beings and insulted. The other negro people talk about other people's mulatto children but forget that they also have a mulatto child in their household.



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