Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Committee Chair

Cumbler, John T.

Author's Keywords

History; European history; Black history; Womens studies


Women agricultural laborers--England--History--19th century; Women agricultural laborers--United States--History--19th century; Women in agriculture--England--History--19th century; Women in agriculture--United States--History--19th century; Women slaves--Southern States--Social conditions--19th century; African American women--History--19th century


This thesis is a historical study comparing the work-lives African-American and English nineteenth-century, field-working women. It focuses on the ideology and structure of the gender division of labour as it formed and informed the lives of these women. It explores the complex relationship among gender and racial ideologies, social and economic structures and the extent to which the women determined their own lives. It argues that the particular historical, ideological and economic forces at work in England and the South differentially constrained their lives. The work is divided into four chapters. The Introduction explains the study's purpose and explores the historical construction of gender ideology. Chapter One examines the declining employment of English female field labourers within its gendered socio-political context. Chapter Two examines the centrality of African-American women's field work as it evolved within the racial contexts of slavery and freedom. The Conclusion highlights the determinative power of economic and ideological forces on the structuring of the gender division of labour and on the ambiguous nature of rural women's agency.