Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

...about women and gender—shaped largely by my own family background and personal experiences in the “real world” of working women—seemed to conflict with standard interpretations of women’s history. Before returning to school in 1988, I had been employed as a picture researcher, a medical secretary, and a museum curator for nearly twenty years. Once enrolled in a program of public history with an emphasis...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xx

...to complete this book. From the beginning of my career as an academic, I have been unusually fortunate in my opportunities to receive guidance from gifted historians. My graduate courses with G. Barker-Benfield, Robert Dystra, Gerald Zahavi, Warren Roberts, Thomas Dublin, Katherine Kish Sklar, Jean Quataert, Deborah Hertz, Sandra Peacock, and the late Warren Wagar, all shaped my thinking and held...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

...credit records for 1857 note that although the Denmeads’ “trimmings” shop was in John’s name, his thirty-one-year-old wife had “for many years carried on the business” (this despite the fact that their son Zacharias had been born just seven years earlier). Regular entries in the R.G. Dun & Co. credit records make clear that Sarah, not her husband John, was the real head of the concern, referring...

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1. Unexceptional Women: Female Proprietors in Albany, 1830-85

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pp. 15-33

...role of women in business in the nineteenth-century United States. Yet a study of nineteenth-century Albany, New York, reveals that, far from “never” conducting a business, more than two thousand individual women joined with their male counterparts to engage in commerce and industry between 1830 and 1885. Indeed, merely scratching the surface of nineteenth- century history exposes the roles that numerous...

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2. Female Microentrepreneurs: Linking Stories and Statistics

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pp. 34-50

...describing the occupations available to women in the Early Republic, including teaching, nursing, midwifery, preaching, performing, writing, tavern and boarding-house keeping, shopkeeping, needlework, farming, speculating in real estate, and mill work. Dexter’s book...

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3. Doing Business: Patterns and Parameters

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pp. 51-65

...We actually know quite a bit about Harriet Maidment, who was listed under “Bakers” in the city directories (sometimes as “Harriet” and sometimes as “Mrs. Edward”) from 1877 through 1892. Unlike other female bakers who appear in the directories only after their husbands’ deaths, Maidment was in fact not a widow; her husband...

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4. Micronetworks and the Family Business Economy

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pp. 66-84

...history as well. His wife, Sarah Todd Astor, is not well known in American, business, or women’s history. Yet as an example of how our conventional models of business activity and achievement need to be modified, we might briefly consider the intriguing story of her contribution to the Astor business empire, presented almost thirty years...

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5. Business or Labor?: Blurred Boundaries in the Careers of Self-Employed Craftswomen

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pp. 85-95

...Campbell’s focus was the dreadful plight of female wage earners in New York City, and she located the roots of their exploitation in both the unscrupulous practices of business owners and the demand of their customers for bargain prices. Although most of her profit-driven villains were male, Campbell did not spare those...

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6. "A Small but Safe Business:" Gendering Success for Nineteenth-Century Female Proprietors

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pp. 96-116

...tale—a small-town milliner who makes and sells bonnets with the help of two young female apprentices—is presented by the anonymous author as a ludicrous and pathetic creature: a vain, silly, selfish type of woman who apes cultured airs and graces while spending her days in idle gossip and romantic fantasies. The six-part story was written almost entirely in the form of a monologue spoken by Miss Slimmens herself, revealing through constant chatter her foolish little concerns, her absurd...

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7. "Doing the Best Business of Any Firm or Man in the Line:" Female Entrepreneurship in Nineteenth-Century Albany

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pp. 117-141

...Kennedy found work as a servant in Boston, depending on neighbors to watch her family. Later she became a saleswoman at a small “notions” store, which she then purchased and ran with the help of her three daughters and her son. She expanded her offerings from notions to groceries (probably including liquor) and variety goods; eventually she had made enough money to purchase the building where she worked and...

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8. Illicit Business: Shady Tradewomen in Albany

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pp. 142-155

...illustrates through words, line drawings, and photographs the rampant poverty, overcrowding, crime, filth, and exploitation that confronted the immigrants who flocked to American cities toward the end of the nineteenth century, as well as Riis’s prejudices toward different ethnic groups. Although known primarily for his campaign against tenement housing, Riis also...

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Conclusion: Incorporating Businesswomen into History

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pp. 156-164

...integrating women into the mainstream of historical thought, writing, and analysis, Virginia Woolf raised a vital point about how this endeavor must be understood. Women’s history is not only a matter of changing one’s subject—adding female actors to preexisting narratives of politics, economics, culture, and society—but also of adjusting one’s viewpoint and values. As Woolf understood quite well, though...

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1. Types of Female Self-Employment and Proprietorship in Albany, 1830-85

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pp. 165-166

...The trades listed below are those defined and counted as business for purposes of this study; at least one female proprietor in each type of business was located in the Albany city directory, in the R.G. Dun & Co. credit ledgers, or in the federal manuscript census...

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2. Sources and Methods

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pp. 167-172

...Albany city directories for the years 1830/31, 1840/41, 1850, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875, 1880, and 1885 were studied in depth, and all females with occupations, especially businesswomen, were recorded in a series of databases in order to assess change over time...

Notes

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pp. 173-194

Index

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pp. 195-205