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Unprotected LaborHousehold Workers, Politics, and Middle-Class Reform in New York, 1870-1940$
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Vanessa H. May

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834770

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877906_may

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(p.1) Introduction
Unprotected Labor

Vanessa H. May

University of North Carolina Press

This book focuses on what's rotten in the kitchens of America's middle class. Whenever Vassar College historian Lucy Maynard Salmon was in the company of women, talk always turned to the problem of paid household labor. At parties and in quiet social gatherings, Salmon observed, “with whatever topic conversation begins,” discussion among middle-class women “sooner or later gravitates towards the one fixed point of domestic service.” This conversation did not take place just in middle-class parlors. In the late nineteenth century, the popular press printed these private whisperings and invited experts on domesticity, labor, and morality to parse the labor relations of the private home for the benefit of a voracious readership.

Keywords:   America's middle class, Vassar College, Lucy Maynard Salmon, household labor, middle-class women

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