Stansell’s City of Women Sex and Class in New York City 1789-1860 goes over women in urban society. Stansell went over tenement classes which reflected labor, wives, mothers and female workers. Not only did Stansell reflected women in the city but families overall. Which is reflected by children and parents working together. Having the concept of parents and children working together also develop the concept of “earn their keep”. Earn their Keep was what parents wanted their children to do to help the family for either unpaid or cash labor (Stansell,53). – Jasmine Williams I connected this with Chapter 4 of Foster's book, when the anonymous woman was telling her story of how she became involved in prostitution. She had to do the same things that Stansell talks about with scavenging and earning their keep in the home. Interesting that she did not mention prostitution in this part of the article, I was expecting that to be a significant part of the article. - Devin Wright
Stansell describes what working life was for women and the working class during industrialization. Women had a small role in this new production based economy, single women lived in tenements with others of similar situations. She also describes the small role that African Americans had, but they were mainly passed over in the work force for young white men and immigrants. A loss of the traditional family structure due to the new wage economy would change the city forever. J.Binns
The author comments on how residents of cities and the community of urban neighborhoods were one of the leading factors in transforming NCY into the largest manufacturing city. Commercial developments like the opening of the Erie Canal led to the growth of the manufacturing sector, and the continuous increase in working-class population allowed for a larger, cheaper workforce that contributed to the industrial revolution more than the introduction of mass production machinery.
Stansell explains how families dynamic changed during the mid-1800's. Surviving, and being able to pay rent became the main priority. The Family wage economy is when all individuals in a family put all their earnings together (Stansell,52). Children who were old enough and women were now laborers in the working class. Small children were usually sent out to scavenge for anything they could find, food, clothes, anything the family could use. It was a very hard time for many working-class families because, wages were cut or small, and decent cheap housing was hard to find.
Interestingly enough, the lack of basic household functions, like running water, contributed to a new form of social interaction amongst women and families living in tenement housings. Without water, mothers would send their children to fetch it from the lower level or the water pump on the street. Laundry was hung in public spaces, overlapping each other, creating another area of forced socialization. Oddly, another area of publicized socialization is conflict. While women in tenement housing together relied on one another, they also publicly fought. These fights were almost always publicized and typically targeted each other's reputations. Large mobs would form around the bickering ladies, and feuds could last for months. Stansell compares the women's cursing and yelling to “carny barking” (Stansell, 59).
Stansell briefly comments on how later, in the 1920s, landlords pay for water facilities to be put on each floor and that allows families some autonomy. When describing the relationship between children and the family wage economy, Stansell explains that as fathers grew poorer and had less to give to their sons, their relationships became more strained as the father was no longer seen as the head ruler of the family. Stansell goes on to explain how rebellious sons were bad, but rebellious daughters were dangerous. Daughters who disobeyed their fathers were seen as unruly and promiscuous.
A crucial form of domestic labor which was undertaken by the children of working-class families was scavenging. Scavenging could provide a limited source of income for the poorest of families without a male breadwinner. The type of scavenging engaged in was a quintessentially nineteenth-century form which supplied urban industry with raw materials in an environment before the establishment of “commercial lines of supply” (51). Children would prowl the streets searching for any sort of detritus which could be recycled by industry: scraps of cotton which shed from larger bales, iron nails to be melted down, and discarded bottles to be given to glass workers. These goods were then sold to an ecosystem of junk dealers who then sold them to businesses. -Jason Elms
Stansell mentions the hardship and the role of women throughout the time of urban city growth. In the lower end of the economic spectrum, many working class men endured long hours at work, and expected to come home to a peaceful evening. The women was in charge of making the home as different as possible from the workplace of the male counterpart, thus providing a peaceful escape for the husband to enjoy his day. The women were also in charge of tedious house tasks such as laundry, cleaning, and raising children.
Life in the neighborhoods of the working class was different than life for the upper-class. In the working class neighborhoods, the families would help each other when needed. The older women or daughters would help look after the small children while parents' worked. If someone fell on hard times, they would help each other with whatever they could give. It was a very tight-knit community. The people who were in the upper-classes lived in their own separate areas, that had the basic utilities, like running water, sewers, etc. The working class did not have any of that, and if they did (which was rare) they had to share it with everyone else in the tenements. An example would be a water pump.
The changing nature of families from rural self-contained units or self-employed artisans created a class of children that were not responsible for providing for the family as generations before had. This freedom which children enjoyed during the middle decades of the 1800’s created a problem of juvenile crime in New York. _Deborah Hunnel
Stansell describes the daily life of many women living in the city. For many lower-class women, they had jobs outside of the home, and were working to support themselves and their families. They also worked a lot more in supporting their community. For those who might not have had work outside of the home, they played and influential part in helping take care of neighbors around them. The aspect of communal living was something that was important to those living in the city, more specifically the lower-class neighborhoods. - Mariah Morton