Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939

By Julia Kirk Blackwelder | Go to book overview

Preface

THIS book is about women in Depression San Antonio, not women as a single group but women as members of particular economic groups and women as members of distinct ethnic groups whose circumstances deter- mined how the Depression affected their lives. "Anglo," "black," and "Hispanic," terms currently in use, are employed in this book to designate Depression San Antonio's three major ethnic groupings. Although the terms obscure significant intra-group differences, broad public recognition of the three groupings has defined and continues to define the discriminatory social structure of the Southwest. The differences among Anglo, black, and Hispanic women's lives in Depression San Antonio are both measurable and describable, and the following pages analyze these quantitative and qualitative differences.

Group definitions in the Southwest rest on distinctions that are partly national and partly racial. The designation "Hispanic" applies to all persons of Spanish or Latin-American heritage, but virtually all Hispanics in Depression San Antonio were Mexican American and the two terms are used interchangeably in this text. Some Hispanics in present-day San Antonio regard themselves as Caucasians of Spanish descent. Still others identify themselves as Indians. Race, therefore, does not define Mexican American, but race is an important component of identity for individual Mexican Americans.

Blacks were and are distinguished from others solely on the basis of race. There were virtually no Negro or black Hispanics in Depression San Antonio and the distinction between the two groups was clear. The blacks of Depression San Antonio were the descendants of Afro-American slaves and freedmen.

The term "Anglo" distinguishes all whites of non-Spanish European extraction from all Hispanics; Mexican Americans have adopted "Anglo" as a label for a group regarded as their oppressors. For such purposes a term that blurs ethnic distinctions among the dominant group is functional. Non-Hispanic whites have accepted "Anglo" as a descriptor that sets them apart from the minority groups of the Southwest.

-xvii-

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Women of the Depression: Caste and Culture in San Antonio, 1929-1939
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • List of Tables xiii
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction 3
  • [1] - The Neglected City 13
  • [2] - The Family and the Female Life Cycle 25
  • [3] - Coping: Middle- and Upper-Class Women 43
  • [4] - Working: Women's Participation in the Labor Force 60
  • [5] - Adapting: Occupational Segregation And Unemployment 75
  • [6] - Home and Shop: Wages and Working Conditions 90
  • [7] - Unemployment Relief and Emergency Job Programs 109
  • [8] - Women and the Labor Movement 130
  • [9] - Crime: the Role of Women 152
  • [10] - Consequences 168
  • Appendixes 185
  • Sources 255
  • Index 273
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