Poor Women and Their Families

Hard Working Charity Cases, 1900-1930

By Beverly Stadum

Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780791407523, 235 pages, December 1991
Hardcover : 9780791407516, 235 pages, January 1992

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Table of contents



1. A Profile of Three Poor Women in an Urban Setting

2. Women as Home-Making Mothers: "The Arch of Enjoyment Called 'Home'"

3. Women as Wage Earners: Willing to Do Anything in the Way of Work"

4. Women as Wives: "Only a Face in the Wedding Picture"

5. Women as Charity Recipients: "Why Do You Come to Bother Me Again?"




This book brings to life early-century counterparts of urban women identified today as victims of the "feminization of poverty" and recipients of aid from assistance programs. With new details and original interpretations, this book moves beyond earlier studies that focus only on female employment or family life of this generation. It shows what poor women tried to do in the midst of multiple roles. The book integrates themes of child rearing and homemaking with those of women's relations to men, their reliance on female kin, and their involvement in the neighborhood, in employment, and with city agencies and institutions.

Beverly Stadum is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at St. Cloud University in Minnesota.


"This book conveys information of the greatest significance to scholars in the field of U. S. Women's History. Almost nothing has been written about this topic. This book brings us a cogently argued interpretation of women charity recipients in terms of their lives as mothers, as workers, and as wives. " — Kathryn Kish Sklar, State University of New York at Binghamton

"The author does an impeccable job of putting together and describing the information in agency case records, skillfully weaving together direct quotations and summaries of the information. It is particularly impressive, however, that she didn't stop there; with this information she also presents the reader with supplemental historical information that puts the material in context and supports her analysis.

"Stadum doesn't pity or condescend to these women. She is respectful of their lives and because she strives to present them as individuals, their individuality shines through. I have read many books about poverty, past and present, but few as compelling as this one. " — Dorothy Miller, Center for Women's Studies, Wichita State University