This article examines the labor of women in the Breton city of Nantes during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It focuses on lower-class workingwomen: the small-scale street vendors, shopkeepers, and innkeepers, who were the stalwarts of the flourishing subeconomy. City officials regularly arrested these women and charged them with various infractions of the municipal ordinances regulating retail commerce, the most serious offense being forestalling the market. The records of these cases offer tantalizing clues as to how lower-class women in early modern Nantes thought about themselves as women and as workers. Women's work, the evidence suggests, was a condition of class as much as of gender. Moreover, these lower-class women developed "professional" identities similar to those of women who belonged to corporations such as guilds.
By juxtaposing the deployment of sati, an elitist custom that dominates historical scholarship, with the coexisting custom of widow remarriage (nata) practiced by vast majorities in early modern, precolonial India, this article draws attention to multiculturalism, the multiplicity of patriarchal manifestations, and the politics of difference in the South Asian context. It is an attempt to write a social history of gender relations from below, based on archival materials on craft communities from a region and culture that current literature has identified almost exclusively with Rajput ruling elites. Examining how widow remarriage was conceptualized and practiced in artisanal communities, it highlights a facet of "Indian Culture" that has remained invisible. Through an analysis of hitherto untapped archival documents from the Jodhpur Sanad Parwana Bahis in the Rajasthan Archives, this article engages with and interrogates the uniform typifications of a singular "Indian Culture" and the position of women therein.
From 1884 to 1920 at the Karema Mission Station on Lake Tanganyika, African girls and women and missionary women created and embraced opportunities and experiences not available to their peers outside the mission. Some of these opportunities were linked to the challenges of founding a new mission in a preindustrial, agricultural society and mirrored those available to women in the early Church in Europe. While gendered norms were more fluid at the mission, racial hierarchies were maintained as Africans performed far more of the manual labor.
In 1920, the working-class members of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), numbering some thirty thousand, convinced the Association to endorse a workers' rights platform at the height of the red scare. The YWCA's original mission was to extend the protections of middle-class, Protestant virtue to young workingwomen. However, workingwomen reworked the association's "Christian Purpose" into a tool to radically increase its commitment to labor issues. This article suggests how both social feminism and the Social Gospel were shaped by working-class women. It shows how workingwomen intervened in intra-Protestant debates to insist on equal citizenship within a purportedly democratic, cross-class women's organization. Having begun by seeking to convert workingwomen to evangelical Protestantism, YWCA leaders had found themselves converted—by a mix of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish women—to political activism as an expression of faith.
This article explores the organization of women within the Democratic Party in the postwar period, using the unexpected dissolution of the party's Women's Division in 1953 to examine the way women active within the party apparatus understood their partisan engagement. These women embraced a gender-neutral approach emphasizing selflessness, and abandoned collective strategies to influence policy or extract gains for women. By the early 1960s, the women's organization had deteriorated not only because of the machinations of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair and the weakening of the DNC as a whole but also because of the women's own limited vision of their participation. Women made significant contributions to the life of the Democratic Party in the 1950s, but their abandonment of collective expression in the party in the name of gender neutrality and service contributed to the irrelevance of the remaining women's organization, particularly as women organized to assert collective pressure elsewhere. This article exposes the difficulties facing women who participated in mixed-sex organizations and adds to the dialogue regarding postwar women's political activism.