Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York

By Rose Laub Coser; Laura S. Anker et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter Eight
Women and Work in the "Golden Medina"

As soon as they were settled into their new homes, immigrant women began looking for employment. "I was fourteen," one Italian woman recalled, "and I reached here in April, after one week I started work, crochet beading. . . . My cousin used to have that job" ( Donna Cassado). A Jewish respondent told a similar story: "Here I could go to work and not be ashamed. . . . I landed in New York on a Tuesday and got a job patching pipes the following Monday . . . a neighbor took me there" ( Freda Chrystel).

Jewish and Italian women brought with them to their new communities a "family culture of work" ( Smith 1985; Glenn 1990; Seller 1986). Unlike American middle class women, who expected to be supported by a father or a husband, they were accustomed to producing as well as consuming the family income. Neither Jewish nor Italian immigrant women subscribed to a Victorian vision of female dependency. They assumed that in the new world, as in the old, each member of the household would contribute to the support of the whole. As one respondent put it: "I didn't come here for somebody to keep me up" ( Yetta Thomashow).

The economic realities of life in America--low wages and irregular employment--reinforced these values, requiring immigrant families to rely on the work of more than one household member in the United States as they had in eastern Europe and southern Italy. In the first two decades of the twentieth century, when economists estimated that it cost between $800 and $1,000 a year for a family of five to maintain "a normal standard of living"--including housing, fuel, food, and transportation, but not "mental or social improvement"--most male heads of household earned considerably less ( Bloom 1985; Chapin 1909:

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Women of Courage: Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 168

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?