ANA Economic Security Program included a no-strike clause based on this
personal responsibility doctrine. By 1957 43 state nursing associations had
adopted the ESP, and by 1986, SNAs represented 60 percent of all organized RNs
The economic and political processes that transformed the organization of work
in the United States since the 1870s gave rise to salaried, white collar occupations. These new occupations became stratified into segments, some with greater
and some with lesser amounts of control over their work. Within the nursing
profession, economic and political processes divided the occupation into distinct
strata with different levels of control over their different goals in the workplace.
In 1860 only 15 percent of all women worked outside the home. However, their
options increased over the next 50 years, especially in white collar sectors that expanded
during World War I, such as the communications industry, advertising, and sales
( Kessler-Harris, 1982: 224).
This is not to negate that such goals were shared by professional educators
themselves as well.
To gain insight into nurses' daily lives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
I rely on several of Reverby's ( 1982) vivid historical depictions derived from this period's
Of course, such work varied by race and ethnicity. Irish and black women, for
example, were more likely to work as domestics, and Jewish and Italian women were
more likely to be garment workers ( Steinberg, 1981).
Middle- and upper-class women began leaving their urban and farm homes
toward the end of the 19th century despite the prevalent values that dictated leisure and
the absence of paid work for such women. According to Kessler-Harris, this exodus was
due to a declining birthrate and technological advances, both of which lightened the
middle-class woman's burden in the home. (Some, such as Schwartz-Cowan, 1983 argue
the opposite: that technology in fact increased women's work.) Nevertheless, Kessler-
Harris suggests that washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and oil furnaces freed middleclass women and their daughters from the household. Although many women responded
to their new situation with boredom and depression, often culminating in "neurasthenia,"
an illness where the prescription for recuperation was to lie in a darkened room all day,
others went off to newly emerging colleges and universities of the 1870s. Some went
into medicine, law, and academia, but most continued to be drawn to the pre-Civil War
women's associations that focused on public altruism: cleaning up prostitution,
abolishing slavery, attacking poverty and poor work conditions. By 1892 hundreds of
these small women's clubs joined together and formed the General Federation of Women's
Clubs. These clubs pulled women into the community, fostering the development of new