Forgotten Women of the Great Depression Part 3

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 13th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

In the struggle for women's rights which stems well over a century, some women made great strides in changing the social mores of the day. The plight of the poor is an ongoing topic in women’s issues and women’s rights. This series will look women in the Great Depression.

African American women could not find work

It took great effort for Montreal women and Women all over the United States and Canada to keep their families together during the great depression.

African American women could not find work during the Depression in America, later on we will see that they could not find work in Montreal either.

Slave market

According to Kathy McMahon, Psy.D, it was almost impossible for African American single women to find any work in America. McMahon, states that even middle class African American women were reduced to working for whatever they could get. She states there were what was called a "slave market" street corners where the African American women would wait on these corners for wealthier white women to come by and pick and choose which African American domestic they wanted for the lowest bid they could get away with. Once hired the domestic was on call 24 hours a day and was subject to anything that her employer expected of her.

All women had to adapt to the work that was available, namely, waitressing, domestic work, and factory work especially in the garment sweatshops.

African American women as entrepreneurs

African American women as entrepreneurs

It was during this time that an interesting occupation originated serviced mainly for African American women. African American women became beauticians and hairdressers. The occupation of hairdressing and barbering was a protective African American occupation because white hairdressers and barbers did not know how to cut, treat, and style African American people's hair. These African American women became self-employed to be able to make a living and thus started a new working model known in that time as "survivalist entrepreneurs."

Furthermore, beyond the beauty aspect, it was stressed by African American organizations that newly African American newcomers from the South would have to groom themselves appropriately if they expected to find jobs in the North. They would have to have their hair styled and have clean nails and clothes, and they were not to wear head coverings known as "head rags" or "dust caps." African American women expecting any white collar jobs such as secretarial had to be light skinned and have their hair straightened. Incredible as it sounds for the poor economic times, because of the necessity to find decent work, these beauticians and hairdressers had a thriving business.

Some links to previous articles
Forgotten Women of the Great Depression Part 1

All photos taken from the public domain

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Depression, Dust Caps, Head Rag, Slave Market, The Great Depression, Women Discrimination, Women Of The Great Depression, Womens Rights, Womens Work

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar Kingwell
13th Apr 2015 (#)

Another good share. Blessings.

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author avatar Sherri Granato
15th Apr 2015 (#)

Such an interesting look into history. They raised children and cleaned houses for people who were financially well off.

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