by Priscilla Murolo
University of Illinois Press, 1997
Paper: 978-0-252-06629-0 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02107-7
Library of Congress Classification HQ1904.M87 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 331.406073


Working girls' clubs were a flash-point for class antagonisms yet also provided fertile ground for surprising cross-class alliances. Priscilla Murolo's nuanced study charts the shifting points of conflict and consensus between working women and their genteel club sponsors; working women and their male counterparts; and among working women of differing ethnic backgrounds. 

The working girls' club movement lasted from the 1880s, when women poured into the industrial labor force, to the 1920s. Upper-class women initially governed the clubs, and activities converged around standards of "respectability" and the defense and uplift of the character of women who worked for wages. Later, the workers themselves presided over the leadership and shifted the clubs' focus to issues of labor reform, women's rights, and sisterhood across class lines. 

A valuable and lucid study of the club movement, The Common Ground of Womanhood throws new light on broader trends in the history of women's alliances, social reform, gender conventions, and worker organizing.

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