Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow

PDF-file by Jacqueline A. Jones

Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow PDF ebook download In her book Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present, history professor Jacqueline Jones argues for the tension of black women's work for their families, communities and their work for whites. She describes this work as it is performed against the backdrop of political economy, as well as the social division of labor, particularly in terms of gender, but also by race. Jones discusses these forces as they shaped labor patterns of black women, from slavery to the paid labor force, as well as at home, and in communities, and how they affected the struggle black women (and men) faced in living their lives on their own terms. Jones covers extensive ground: starting with the rural South 1830, to rural and urban south post-antebellum, the great migration (from the country to the cities), early 20th century, the great depression, WWI and WWII, the civil rights movement, through the 1980s, until present day.

Jones makes extensive use of primary and secondary materials in her book. She uses magazine articles, newspapers, books, government reports (especially the census) and statistics, manuscripts, oral histories and scholarly essays. She cites over one thousand sources. Jones uses a feminist perspective for much of her analysis, which comes through in many places. She touches on the the contrast between white and black women of the 50s and 60s, the Feminine Mystic and the "ideal woman" concept. She presents evidence from Ebony magazine which applauded black women for their careers, whereas Ladies Home Journal, which claimed white women with careers were suffering from personality disorders." There are some limitations to her study: she does not engage in a comprehensive discussion of education or religious institutions (which she admits herself), and she only touches briefly on free black women's experiences during slavery and northern and other non-southern blacks experiences are in large part ignored.Jones challenges some ideas of scholars: especially the idea that black families are matriarchal in nature. However, she is up front about the limitations and in fact she encourages further study of the subject. Much of women's labor history has often focused on white womens experiences , and more work needs to be done on how being female and black, has contributed to black women's work, family and community experiences.

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