Women and Children in the Labor Force of Antebellum America
Women and children had a strong impact in the labor force of America during the pre-Civil War era. Through the readings of Lee Craig, Claudia Goldin and Kenneth Sokoloff, we can make assumptions about women and children in labor force. The differences in utilization of women and children are dramatic between the Northern and Southern regions of country. The North included women and children in their labor force for manufacturing and textiles. In contrast, women and children in the South worked in family owned plantations and businesses which also added to the labor force, but in ways that were much harder to measure. ...view middle of the document...
However, Craig does not account for the manufacturing boom and the Industrial Revolution that took place in America between 1820 and 1850.
Both papers explain the importance of women and children in relative regions where Craig states the crucial value of women and children in the household labor force. Goldin and Sokoloff explains how manufacturing and textile advancements and the use of capital increases the value of women and children outside the traditional household sector.
The articles also prove a measurable value and increase in that value for women and children during the antebellum era. However, Goldin and Sokoloff broadened their conclusion by explaining the substantial increase in the labor force, attributed to women and children in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Goldin and Sokoloff inadvertently disregard values of women and children workers in the South due to the lack of census data, output values, and independent wages to base and/or measure true values of women and children in the South. This is not to say that Goldin and Sokoloff hold any less regard to agricultural production, but simply, they do not feel the data from this segment is as intensive or reliable as the data relating to the North. One reason that the increase in the South is not seen, is that women and children working for family farms or family owned businesses are not information that is reported in the censuses or manufacturers logs that Goldin and Sokoloff received their research data from. This lack of data makes it impossible to accurately portray the labor from women and children within the Southern region.
Women and children were also limited by physical ability, including height and strength. Due to the fact that agricultural labor had not changed much in these years and capital did not give them the ability to substitute women and children for adult men in this region, we must conclude that women and children were not as vital of a resource in the South and they were in the North.
Craig’s article discussed the differences among the women and children labor force in the Northeast, Midwest and the Frontier. Women and children were used in all regions however, in the Midwest and the Frontier, women and children were more likely perform intensive labor, such as land clearing. This was necessary in the less-settled land, however in settled areas like the Northeast, children were kept closer to...