“To the Editors of Philadelphia Daily News from Printers’ Union,” 1854 “…we do not believe that any benefit an accrue from taking women from the sphere of action God (as it is evident from her physical and mental qualities) designed her to occupy. Her faculties are different from those of a male and any attempt to draw her preset position in life should be met with that opposition from the American 165 people which would be exerted against immorality and vice. The purity of a woman should be guarded with care, and surely contact with the world in the same method that man finds necessary would have a very pernicious effect upon her morals.” (1)

The above is a quote from a letter that wanted to justify why the Printers’ Union shouldn’t employ women. At this point in time, working out of the home was starting to become a bit more common and accepted. However, looking at the above quote, it is easy to see that many people were unhappy about women becoming part of the outside labor force. The part that states, “Her faculties are different from those of a male,” draws back to that idea of separate spheres; women and men were not on the same level and therefore did not belong in the same workplace. It then goes onto talk about a woman’s purity and how it should be “guarded.” It was believed that she may be tempted if she was around a man that wasn’t her husband or a family member.


(1) Week 7 documents, 4


5 Comments Add yours

  1. It would be cool to connect this piece to the one about the pickles that we read in class. That work was acceptable because it was in the same sphere unlike this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mlucas426 says:

    You should try and connect this reading to some of the other ones we saw in class like the WPA papers or that thing we saw about firing women to hire men during I think World War 2. The one about Kraft food company would be another good one to connect to especially the purity claim.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. embartra says:

    Michael hit on exactly what this reminded me of – I can send you that letter if you want to use it, even as support for another entry.

    In both cases, read against the grain – why are white men *really* upset at women’s presence in the workplace? (They were similarly upset about the presence of black/immigrant workers)


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