The West's Industrial Revolution changed the situation of women in many ways. Some of the changes have recurred more recently in other civilizations, and others were particularly characteristic of the 19th-century West. Industrialization cut into women's traditional work and protest roles (for example, in spearheading bread riots as attention shifted to work-based strikes), but it tended to expand the educational opportunities for women.
Some new work roles and protest outlets, including feminism, developed by 1914. Important changes occurred in the home as well. New ideas and standards elevated women’s position and set up more demanding tasks. Relationships between women were also affected by the growing use of domestic servants (the most common urban job for working-class women) and new attitudes of middle and lower-class women, The first document that fol1ows sketches the idealization of middle-class women; it comes from an American moral tract of 1837, written anonymously, probably by a man. The second document, written by a woman in an English women’s magazine shows new household standards of another sort, with a critical tone also common in middle-class literature. Finally, a British housewife discusses her servant problems, reflecting yet another facet of women's lives. How could women decide what their domestic roles were and whether they brought satisfaction?
Women as Civilizers (1837)
As a sister, she soothes the troubled heart, chastens and tempers the wild daring of the hurt mind restless with disappointed pride or fired with ambition. As a mistress, she " inspires the nobler sentiment of purer love, and the sober purpose of conquering himself for virtue’s sake. As a wife, she consoles him in grief, animates him with hope in despair, restrains him in prosperity, cheers him in poverty and trouble, swells the pulsations of his throbbing breast that beats for honorable distinction, and rewards his toils with the undivided homage of a grateful heart. In the important and endearing character of mother, she watches and directs the various impulses of unfledged genius, instills into the tender and susceptible mind the quickening seeds of virtue, fits us to brave dangers in time of peril, and consecrates to truth and virtue the best affections of our nature.
Motherhood as Power and Burden (1877)
Every woman who has charge of a household should have practica1knowledge of nursing, simple doctoring and physicianing. The professional doctor must be called in for real illness. But the Home Doctor may do so much to render professional visits very few and far between, And her knowledge will be of infinite value when it is necessary to carry out the doctor’s orders…
The Mother Builder
It is a curious fact that architects who design and builders who carry out their plans must have training for this work. But the Mother Builder is supposed to have to know by instinct how to put in each tiny brick which builds up the "human." The result of leaving it to "instinct" is that the child starts out with bad foundations and a jerry-built constitution…
When one considers that one child in every three born dies before the age of five years, it is evident how wide-spread must be the ignorance as to the feeding and care of these little ones. It is a matter of surprise to those who understand the constitution and needs of infants that, considering the conditions under which the large number of them are reared, the mortality is not greater…
The Risks Babies Run
To begin with, the popular superstition that a young baby must be "hungry" because it lives on milk and is on this plea the recipient of scraps and bits of vegetables, potato, and gravy, crusts and other heterogeneous articles of diet, has much to answer for. Then, the artistic sense of the mother which leads her to display mottled necks, dimpled arms, and chubby legs, instead of warmly covering these charming, portions of baby's anatomy,