University of Notre Dame

Laboring Women in Early America

AMST 30170: Laboring Women in Early America

Instructor: Professor Sophie White

What did shopping, tavern-keeping, and midwifery have in common in early America? They could all be considered legitimate forms of women’s and girls’ labors both inside and outside of the home. We will consider work that was skilled or unskilled, free or enslaved, and paid or unpaid, and how changing definitions of “women’s work” helped to shape boundaries of race and class. Servants were restricted from marrying and procreating while the value of enslaved women resided in both their work and their reproductive potential. Hence this course will also consider the dual facets of women’s labor in work and their laboring in childbirth.

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