Cover for STANSELL: City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860. Click for larger image

City of Women

Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860

An innovative social history of nineteenth-century working-class women

Before the Civil War, a new idea of womanhood took shape in America in general and in the Northeast in particular. Women of the propertied classes assumed the mantle of moral guardians of their families and the nation. Laboring women, by contrast, continued to suffer from the oppressions of sex and class. In fact, their very existence troubled their more prosperous sisters, for the impoverished female worker violated dearly held genteel precepts of 'woman's nature' and 'woman's place.' City of Women delves into the misfortunes that New York City's laboring women suffered and the problems that resulted. Looking at how and why a community of women workers came into existence, Christine Stansell analyzes the social conflicts surrounding laboring women and they social pressure these conflicts brought to bear on others. The result is a fascinating journey into economic relations and cultural forms that influenced working women's lives—one that reveals at last the female city concealed within America's first great metropolis.


"This is an immensely important book for historians. Rather than study women in isolation, Christine Stansell has put them into their political, moral, and social worlds. Her work will help bring studies of women out of their separate sphere and into the mainstream of American history."--Martha Saxton, New York Times Book Review

"A remarkable achievement--subtle, sophisticated, and amply rewarding."--Walter Kendrick, Village Voice

"Christine Stansell's highly original work takes a close look at working-class women in early nineteenth-century New York, and shows both the strengths and the vulnerabilities of this ‘city of women.' Describing the specific moral and economic circumstances of individual female lives, Stansell makes vivid historical sense of what until now has been obscured by generalization, abstraction, and oversimplification."--Jean Strouse

"A fascinating, subtly intelligent work of scholarship."--Barbara Ehrenreich

"An important and exciting contribution. This is truly innovative and responsible social history." --Elaine Showalter

"Stansell brings nineteenth-century New York's working women out of the shadows. A brilliant and original book."--Katha Pollitt 


Christine Stansell is Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago. Her books include American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/98skr5fr9780252014819.html

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

Related Titles

previous book next book
The Selected Papers of Jane Addams - Cover
The Selected Papers of Jane Addams

vol. 3: Creating Hull-House and an International Presence, 1889-1900

Jane Addams Edited by Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Maree de Angury, and Ellen Skerrett

Transforming Women’s Education - Cover
Transforming Women’s Education

Liberal Arts and Music in Female Seminaries

Jewel A. Smith

Owen Lovejoy and the Coalition for Equality - Cover
Owen Lovejoy and the Coalition for Equality

Clergy, African Americans, and Women United for Abolition

Jane Ann Moore and William F. Moore

Lucretia Mott Speaks - Cover
Lucretia Mott Speaks

The Essential Speeches and Sermons

Lucretia Mott Edited by Christopher Densmore, Carol Faulkner, Nancy Hewitt, and Beverly Wilson Palmer

Ladies of the Ticker - Cover
Ladies of the Ticker

Women and Wall Street from the Gilded Age to the Great Depression

George Robb

Beyond Respectability - Cover
Beyond Respectability

The Intellectual Thought of Race Women

Brittney C. Cooper

Starring Women - Cover
Starring Women

Celebrity, Patriarchy, and American Theater, 1790-1850

Sara E. Lampert

Unbinding Gentility - Cover
Unbinding Gentility

Women Making Music in the Nineteenth-Century South

Candace Bailey

Money, Marriage, and Madness - Cover
Money, Marriage, and Madness

The Life of Anna Ott

Kim E. Nielsen