Often strong physically, women of the urban poor worked from when they were toddlers until they died. They worked inside and outside the house, cooking, washing, cleaning and planning how to get by; they worked at cleaning the clothes and houses of a middle class arrogant and condescending in their attitudes towards working-class women; they worked in factories, shops, mills and workshops; they worked in their neighbourhoods in providing vital services for their neighbours. The women of the urban poor worked all their lives for their families and neighbours. They deserve our respect and admiration.
Many of them were strong, independent, selfless and hard working and their central role in the family was achieved by their dedication to its well being. This fidelity gained for them the devotion of their children, who recognised a mother’s command of the household finances, her ability to maintain a family’s self-sufficiency through careful housekeeping and creative cooking, and her valiant efforts to stay clean and respectable. Often earning her own income and receiving the earnings of her children, it was the mother who was in charge of the daily battle against hunger and hardships. Strong kinship ties and extended families in settled neighbourhoods was made the more pronounced by the desire of married daughters to live close to their mothers. Older married women who were grannies and aunts held sway over large kinship networks, and from this position of importance many of them achieved status in their neighbourhoods as layers-out, unofficial midwives, wise women, custodians of the moral code and guardians of the group consciousness. Using a variety of sources, including oral evidence and autobiographies as well as the comments of middle-class observers, Carl Chinn explains the immense importance which women of the urban poor had to their families and to wider society.
- Author: Professor Carl Chinn MBE
- Binding: paperback
- ISBN: 978-1-85936-119-1
- Pages: 176
- Illustrations: 30 old photographs
- Date of Publication: September 2006
- Dimensions: 234 × 156 mm