15 Pages

The Economics of Middle-Income Family Life: Working Women During the Great Depression

WithWinifred D. Wandersee Bolin

The history of women and work is becoming an increasingly fertile field of research for historians. The investigations conducted by the Women's Bureau were devoted to proving that point, and even a cursory glance at the census data on the female labor force would support the bureau's interpretation. Economists, home economists, and even social workers, tended to be critical of the buying habits of American families. The increased participation of married women in the work force reflected a variety of developments, including the decline of child labor, economic need at the poverty level, relative need at every other level, and the availability of more desirable jobs. For most white Americans, a working wife placed a stigma upon the husband and the family—a stigma that could not be easily removed, but one that might be justified by the presence of economic necessity.