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A Woman's Place : An Oral History of Working Class Women 1890-1940 - Elizabeth Roberts

A Woman's Place

An Oral History of Working Class Women 1890-1940

Paperback Published: 6th April 1995
ISBN: 9780631147541
Number Of Pages: 256

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<i>A Woman's Place</i> is based upon Elizabeth Roberts's interviews with 160 elderly people from the towns of Barrow, Lancaster and Preston. They recall their memories of family life as children, youths and adults in the period between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the outbreak of the Second World War.<p><i>A Woman's Place</i> shows working-class women to be conscious of, and secure in, the separate, private sphere of home and family, with little feeling of male oppression, but more of class oppression and economic injustice to man and woman alike. A woman's key place within the family as budget manager and domestic decision taker was widely recognized. It was, however, a position won at great cost. The hazards of childbirth, the grueling physical routines of washing, cleaning and cooking, the necessity of undertaking part-time, or (in Preston especially) full-time paid employment to boost the family's meager income, were the coin with which that role was bought. This hard female experience from childhood to motherhood is carefully and sensitively recorded, and the oral evidence supported and elucidated by documentary material from a wide range of local and national sources. <p>Elizabeth Roberts's classic work in the oral history of the family is now reissued to coincide with the publication of <i>Women and Families</i> to which it is a direct prequel. Taken together the two books provide an unrivaled picture of almost a century of social change.

Industry Reviews

"Their talk is lively, and it's a wonder to read the voices of people who do not usually get to talk for themselves." (The Smart Set, 7 April 2011)

"A Woman's Place is a book to which all future historians of the working-class will be indebted." Times Higher Education Supplement

"A Woman's Place will be read with interest for the illuminating accounts of working-class experiences, but equally for Dr Roberts' erudite gloss on her material ... Her achievement is to record working-class lives as they were lived and her success in doing so establishes her as one of the most accomplished practitioners of oral history." Economic History Review

"A highly readable picture of the lives of working-class women through childhood, adolescence, work, leisure, marriage (and more work), family and sexual relations ... and motherhood. Through them emerges a picture of a wider working-class reality, which is all the more vivid for its sensitivity to the ambiguous and the unexpected." New Society

"This is a first-rate book for both expert historian and general reader; it deserves wider circulation." Women's Review of Books

"Her two volumes appear austere but tell an absorbing tale. I hope she is collecting material for a third." Times Educational Supplement

"... one of the best social histories of Britain before 1940." The Sunday Review



1. Growing Up.

Home Life.


2. Youth, Work and Leisure.

The Status of Young Workers in the Family.

Employers and Employees.

The Work Ethic.

Young Women at Work. Leisure.

Courting and Pre-Marital Pregnancy.

3. Marriage.

Sexual Relations and Attitudes to Family Size.

Family Limitation: Knowledge and Methods.

Pregnancy and Childbirth.

Power Relationships within Marriage.

The Effect of Social Change.

4. Women as Housewives and Managers.

Working-class Homes.

Family Income.

Balancing the Budget.

Were Working Class Women Successful Household Managers?.

5. Families and Neighbours.

The Extended Family.

Neighbours and Neighbourhoods.


Appendices. .

1. Population of the Three Towns, 1981-1931.

2. Women's Occupations, 1891-1931.

3. Percentages of Women at Work, 1891-1931.

4. Wage Indices for 1905.

5. Respondents' Biographies.


Select Bibliography.


ISBN: 9780631147541
ISBN-10: 0631147543
Series: Family, Sexuality and Social Relations in Past Times
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 6th April 1995
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 228.19 x 158.35  x 16.07
Weight (kg): 0.39
Edition Number: 1