The last box, and the box I’m currently cataloguing, are both called quite simply ‘Women’. This encompasses such a huge range of interesting material that they’ve taken me a wee while to catalogue – I don’t want to miss out anything important, and, it’s all so great to read! Anyway, I thought I’d share some drawings from a U.S Department of Labor, Women’s Bureau, pamphlet from 1924.
‘Radio Talks on Women in Industry’ contains a number of articles regarding the working conditions of women in industry. I know from recent discoveries I made outside of my workplace just how horrendous these could be but this pamphlet paints a slightly less brutal picture, though not a rosy one by any means. The pamphlet makes the point that women work in almost every occupation, asking the question of its readers ‘how many people realise that of 572 occupations listed in the census there were only 35 in which no women were employed?’
The Women’s Bureau was set up to investigate what women worked at in industry, what were their working conditions, how did laws help or hinder them. it supplies examples of the activities and lives of working women, for example they visited working mothers to find out how they organised childcare whilst they were at work. The pamphlet discusses women’s wages but makes no outright demands for equal pay although it does say that ‘wages for women should be standardised and stabilised in some way’. The examples it uses do highlight some of the terrible working conditions of women, and men of course, who worked in factories at that time. In a chapter on ‘Hours of Work’ they use the comparison of Betty and Nell, Nell has a long commute, therefore is tired at work, less productive, has to go off sick etc, in comparison with Betty who arives into work ‘Cheerful and rested.. was almost never sick.. [had] energy and enthusiasm’. Compared to some official publications it has a very informal tone which could be because these were originally talks for the radio. Although hearing them on a radio would mean being deprived of all these great drawings!