- Purchase/rental options available:
Abstract (Lang: English):
This brief microhistory of the Philadelphia Magdalen Asylum's changing labor regime before and during the Panic of 1819 illustrates broader transformations in economies of gendered labor. When the panic disrupted demand for household workers, the white, US-born women of the Asylum produced commodities for consumer markets and obtained training for feminizing professions. By contrast, wage-earning black and immigrant women were excluded from the Asylum and directed instead to external institutions that were designed by its officers to rebuild the domestic labor market in ways that would advantage the employer class. The racial stratification of gendered wage labor persisted throughout the century. Just when service emerged as a capitalized sector, intimate labor was represented as "non-market activity"--a characterization challenged by those who performed it.