To read this content please select one of the options below:

Racism, Sexism, and the Constraints on Black Women’s Labor in 1920

Race, Identity and Work

ISBN: 978-1-78769-502-3, eISBN: 978-1-78769-501-6

Publication date: 7 November 2018


Black women have traditionally occupied a unique position in the American economic structure – at the very bottom. The year 1920 is a unique historical moment to examine how this came to be. Economic prosperity immediately following World War I, the first wave of Black migration, and accelerating industrialization created occupational opportunities that could have enabled Black women to escape working poverty, as the majority of Black men did, but they were actively constrained. Historical narratives have extensively described Black women’s occupational restriction across regions to dirty work, such as domestic service, but not often in conjunction with a comparison to the expanding opportunities of Black men and White women. While intersectionality studies have honed in on the unique place of Black women, little attention has been devoted to this from a historical vantage point. This chapter examines the role that race, gender, and place played in shaping the experience of working poverty and integrates a consideration of queuing theory and Black population size to examine how variations might shape racial outcomes in the labor market in 1920.



Branch, E.H. (2018), "Racism, Sexism, and the Constraints on Black Women’s Labor in 1920", Race, Identity and Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 32), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 91-112.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited