The nineteenth century in America had a lot of flux and changing societal pressures. One of these changes was the immense growth in the foreign population coming into America. According to a PBS documentary, Destination America, 30 million Europeans migrated into America. With the ever changing society, just in sheer number and kinds of people, there was also a lot of shifting in people’s attitudes. The one group at the forefront of this shift were women.  Specifically women who were stay at home mothers that wanted a more impactful role of influence in greater society. The late nineteenth century was filled with women who were being told that the most impactful and important job they had was to be a stay at home mother, however they saw the economy growing and jobs being created. With this all going on around them, women started to desire those new opportunities and see themselves as not just mothers, but financially contributing members of society. During this time, according to Lives of Women, women started to push back against the tight grip patriarchy had by becoming educated through mandatory laws in some states and some women even pushing the boundaries and attending schools of higher education. Women not only started to feel the pressure of the patriarchal society and oppressive traditional roles of men and women, they also started to act and do something about it.

Most of the tools and appliances that women used were around the house, whether they liked being there or not. Many of the machines and tools society has today within the home were present, except in their very primitive form. A woman had the coal stove, they had the butter churns, there were machines to prepare food, all of it was geared toward the woman and trying to make their life easier. However it did not, and that is partly the reason why women wanted a better way, a better life. A Norwegian immigrant, named Gro Svendsen wrote about her observations of women’s domestic duties and she said,We are told that the women of America have much leisure time but I haven’t yet met any woman who thought so! Here the mistress of the house must do all the work that the cook, the maid and the housekeeper would do in an upper class family at home. Moreover, she must do her work as well as these three together do it in Norway”Housework in the late 19th century. There isn’t any question why women became restless and sought new opportunities outside the home. The women during this time didn’t have proper technology and equipment to do what they needed to around the home and for their families efficiently and productively. The work that was done within the home was sometimes harder than outside of it. On top of all that, these women worked like dogs chained to their patriarchal husbands and naive children all to be treated like second rate, non human citizens without rights and without a voice. The lack of technology made a woman’s job that much more dreadful to do.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email