Cover for TURBIN: Working Women of Collar City: Gender, Class, and Community in Troy, 1864-86. Click for larger image

Working Women of Collar City

Gender, Class, and Community in Troy, 1864-86

Irish laundresses and their successful labor union

Why have some working women succeeded at organizing in spite of obstacles to labor activity? Under what circumstances were they able to form alliances with male workers?

Carole Turbin explores these and other questions by examining the case of Troy, New York. In the 1860s, Troy produced nearly all the nation's detachable shirt collars and cuffs. The city's collar laundresses were largely Irish immigrants. Their union was officially the nation's first women's labor organization, and one of the best organized. Turbin provides a new perspective on gender and shows that women's family ties are not necessarily a conservative influence but may encourage women's and men's collective action.


"By going 'beyond the conventional wisdom' about gender, class, and ethnicity, [Turbin] has found ways to tell us more about the nineteenth-century collar workers of Troy than we possibly could have imagined discovering a decade ago."--Choice


Carole Turbin is a professor emerita at SUNY, Empire State College. She is the author of Souvenir: A Memoir and coeditor of Material Strategies: Dress and Gender in Historical Perspective.

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