myth and materiality in a woman’s world
Q: Do you do anything else in the way of working for your living than
by knitting these articles?
Andrina Simpson: Yes, I am married.
(Commission to Inquire into the Truck System, Second Report
(Shetland), 1872, Evidence, line 326)
he deceptively simple reply given by the Lerwick knitter
Andrina Simpson upon being asked whether she did anything
else in addition to knitting to make a living speaks volumes.
For Shetland women marriage meant induction into a fishing-crofting
household wherein their role was
This book provides the first history of how we have imagined and used time since 1700. It traces the history of the relationship between work and leisure, from the 'leisure preference' of male workers in the eighteenth century, through the increase in working hours in the later eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, to their progressive decline from 1830 to 1970. It examines how trade union action was critical in achieving the decline; how class structured the experience of leisure; how male identity was shaped by both work and leisure; how, in a society that placed high value on work, a 'leisured class' was nevertheless at the apex of political and social power – until it became thought of as 'the idle rich'. Coinciding with the decline in working hours, two further tranches of time were marked out as properly without work: childhood and retirement. By the mid-twentieth century married men had achieved a work- leisure balance. In the 1960s and 1970s it was argued that leisure time would increase at a rapid rate. This false prediction coincided with the entry of married women into the labour market and a halt to the decline in working hours and in sectors of the economy a reversal of it. These two developments radically changed the experience of time and thinking about it. Time became equated with achieving a 'work-life balance' where 'life' was often unpaid childcare and domestic work.
4883 Social Change PT bjl.qxd
There was some development of non-agricultural employment
in Ireland between 1851 and 1922, but this does not mean that
there was work for everyone. Emigration masked the true extent of
unemployment, millions of people moving from the country and
sending home money to those who could not survive on the wages
paid for the work they described themselves as doing to the census.
Any discussion of ‘gains’ must bear this firmly in mind.
There was, however, an increase in the
Understanding work camps
Memory and context
For some sixty years, work camp movements flourished in Britain.
But Britain’s work camps were far from unique. We have already
seen the international nature of the labour colony movement, but
there were similar debates and exchanges, on an even larger scale,
between the wards. In 1935 the International Labour Organisation’s officers detailed camp systems in Austria, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Germany, Poland and South Africa; in the following
year, they added Estonia, France, Japan and Switzerland to
Towards ‘work–life balance’
rom the mid-nineteenth century it became common to think of time as
being divided between work and leisure. To do this, however, was to see
the world through the eyes of men. Women, whether or not they were in
paid employment, had very little sense of time being so neatly divided into
work and leisure. Work provided the dominant motif of their lives, and there
was no time on the clock when it began or ended. Life was task-oriented,
and there were always tasks to be done.
In the twentieth century there were fundamental changes in
Grene that the aforesaid Joan and her family unjustly mowed
grass on the bound between them and took more than she ought to do.
Accordingly it is judged that the aforesaid Joan is in mercy and Roger
should receive damages from her.
[c]  Day in autumn. The
daughter of William de Wylinghurst, two daughters of Nicholas le Yonge,
two daughters of Thomas Colling, and the daughter of Dygan to work two
tapestry wrought upon the loom after the manner of Arras
work and made of false work by Katherine Duchewoman in her house at
Finch Lane, being four yards in length and seven quarters in breadth,
seeing that she had made it of linen thread beneath, but covered with
wool above, in deceit of the people and against the ordinance of the
aforesaid craft, and they asked that the ‘coster’ might be
declared to be
Using oral, archival and written sources, the book reconstructs the experiences of African women and men working in Zimbabwe’s hospitals in the twentieth century. It demonstrates how African nurses, i.e., nursing assistants, nursing orderlies, medics and State Registered Nurses were the spine of the hospital system and through their work ensured the smooth functioning of hospitals in Zimbabwe. The book argues that African nurses took the opportunity afforded to them by the profession to transform Zimbabwe’s clinical spaces into their own. They were interlocutors between white medical and nursing personnel and African patients and made Africans’ adjustments to hospital settings easier. At the same time, the book moves beyond hospital spaces, interrogating the significance of the nursing profession within African communities, in the process bridging the divide between public and private spaces. The book makes a significant contribution to global nursing historiography by highlighting how Zimbabwean nurses’ experiences within hospitals and beyond clinical spaces speak to the experiences of other nurses within the Southern African region and beyond. Through documenting the stories and histories of African nurses over a period of a century and the various ways in which they struggled and creatively adapted to their subordinate position in hospitals and how they transformed these healing spaces to make them their own, the book suggests that nurses were important historical actors whose encounters and experiences in Zimbabwe’s healing spaces – the hospitals – deserve to be documented.
Fundamental to the image of the ‘new woman’ in the 1920s was her economic emancipation. David Schoenbaum writes of ‘the economic liberation of thousands of women sales clerks … an ever increasing contingent of women doctors, lawyers, judges and social workers … social forces that had brought thousands of women into shops, offices, and professions in competition with men’. 1 However, work is of itself not emancipatory for women; only when it provides them with the means to live independently of any other financial support can it be deemed emancipatory
Ambiguities at work: refugees and the
French war economy, 1939–40
Throughout the 1930s officials and employers in south-western France
had associated Spanish migrants primarily with their role in the economy.
Whether in rural or urban areas, Spaniards were perceived as hardworking and exploitable but also effective workers. In Bordeaux, employers preferred to hire Spanish dockers rather than their French
counterparts.1 A similar picture emerged from a study conducted in the
late 1930s involving interviews with French farmers in the south-west.2
By 1939, a