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Female employment in nineteenth-century ironworking districts: Merthyr Tydfil and the Shropshire Coalfield, 1841-1881. / Amanda Janet Macdonald Milburn

Swansea University Author: Amanda Janet Macdonald, Milburn

Abstract

This thesis examines female employment in the two ironworking districts of Merthyr Tydfil and the Shropshire Coalfield between 1841 and 1881. Historians have previously suggested that women were practically absent from the workforce in industrial areas. Examination of female employment in the study...

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Published: 2013
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42249
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Abstract: This thesis examines female employment in the two ironworking districts of Merthyr Tydfil and the Shropshire Coalfield between 1841 and 1881. Historians have previously suggested that women were practically absent from the workforce in industrial areas. Examination of female employment in the study districts, however, demonstrates not only that women did work, but that they did so in strikingly diverse occupational settings. Evidence drawn from the census, newspapers, parliamentary papers and local manuscript sources will be used to show that their work was vital to the functioning of their local economies, and by consequence, the national prosperity of nineteenth-century Britain. The endemic gendered ideologies of the period undoubtedly influenced the employment opportunities open to these women, yet their work cannot be explained with reference to ideology alone. Analysis of employment patterns in the concentrated geographic settings of Merthyr Tydfil and the Shropshire Coalfield demonstrates that, in many cases, wider economic fluctuations and localised industrial, urban, and social developments had more of an impact on women's work than contemporary discourse.
Keywords: European history.;Economic history.;Labor relations.
College: College of Arts and Humanities