Cover for VECCHIO: Merchants, Midwives, and Laboring Women: Italian Migrants in Urban America. Click for larger image

Merchants, Midwives, and Laboring Women

Italian Migrants in Urban America

Challenging long-held patriarchal assumptions about Italian women's work in the United States

Diane C. Vecchio's unique study considers the work experiences of Italian immigrant women and their daughters in the previously unexamined regions of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Endicott, New York, during the turn of the twentieth century. Using Italian and American sources and rich oral histories, this study reveals that women in Italy had economic responsibilities that often included work experiences outside of the home, including jobs as midwives and businesswomen.

Demonstrating the regional variation of Italian women's work as well as the skills they transplanted to America balances the image of inexperienced and low-skilled laborers that dominates scholarship on Italian working women. Vecchio's research on Endicott sheds light on the gendered nature of life in a "company town" governed by welfare paternalism, while her research on Milwaukee emphasizes how Italian immigrant women turned to small business enterprise when local opportunities for wage-earning were limited. This comparative method helps to move beyond reductionist theories and conventional portraits of Italian women to explore the diverse factors that prompted them to seek certain kinds of occupations to the exclusion of others.

"Vecchio . . . makes a significant contribution to the history of Italian American immigrant women and women's employment in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"Merchants, Midwives, and Laboring Women makes refreshing and clear arguments about how international labor markets, local realities, and domestic values shaped women's lives in Italian communities in two American cities."--The Journal of American History

Diane C. Vecchio is an associate professor of history at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

To order online:

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
The Yankee Yorkshireman

Migration Lived and Imagined

Mary H. Blewett

Taste of the Nation

The New Deal Search for America's Food

Camille Bégin

Moving Subjects

Gender, Mobility, and Intimacy in an Age of Global Empire

Edited by Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton

Making the News Popular

Mobilizing U.S. News Audiences

Anthony Nadler

Changing the Playbook

How Power, Profit, and Politics Transformed College Sports

Howard P. Chudacoff

Music in the Age of Anxiety

American Music in the Fifties

James Wierzbicki

Mexican Chicago

Race, Identity, and Nation, 1916-39

Gabriela F. Arredondo

Cold War Games

Propaganda, the Olympics, and U.S. Foreign Policy

Toby C. Rider

Mister Pulitzer and the Spider

Modern News from Realism to the Digital

Kevin G. Barnhurst

Journal of American Ethnic History

Edited by John J. Bukowczyk

Polish American Studies

Edited by Anna D. Jaroszynska-Kirchmann

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The War Years, 1939-1945

Roger Daniels

Immigrant Voices

New Lives in America, 1773-2000

Edited by Thomas Dublin

The Jews of Chicago

From Shtetl to Suburb

Irving Cutler

A New Language, A New World

Italian Immigrants in the United States, 1890-1945

Nancy C. Carnevale

Team Chemistry

The History of Drugs and Alcohol in Major League Baseball

Nathan Michael Corzine