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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




. R. 13229]

An Act To establish in the Department of Labor a bureau to be known as the
Women's Bureau

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Rep1·esentatives of the
Unted States of A. rnerica in Oongress assembled, That there shall be
established in the Department of Labor a bureau to be known as the
Women's Bureau.
, SEC. 2. That the said bureau shall be in charge of a director, a
woman, to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice
and consent of the Senate, who shall receive an annual compensation
of $5,000. It shall be the duty of said bureau to formulate standards
and policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning
women, improve their working conditions1 increase their efficiency,
and advance their opportunities for prohtable employment. The
said bureau shall have aµthority to investigate and report to the
said department upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of
women in industry. The director of said bureau may from time
to time publish the results of these investigations in such a manner
and to such extent as the Secretary of Labor may prescribe!
SEC. 3. That there shall be in said bureau an assistant director, to
be appointed by the Secretary of Labor, who shall receive an annual
compensation of $3,500 and shall perform such duties as shall be
prescribed by the director and approved by the Secretary of Labor.
SEC. 4. That there is hereby authorized to be employed by said
bureau a chief clerk and such special agents, assistants., clerks, and
other employees at such rates of compensation and in such numbers
as Congress may from time to time provide by appropriations.
SEC. 5. That the Secretary of Labor is hereby directed to furnish
sufficient quarters, office furniture, and equipment £or the work of
this bureau.
SEc. 6. That this Act shall take e:ffect and be in force £rom and
after its passage.
Approved, June 5, 1920.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis







~ "'&N'l'o;.






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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Part I. Introduction________________ ___ _____________________________
Summary_ ___ ___ ___ ___ ________ __ ___________ _______ _______
Changes resulting from research _______ _________.______
General effects of such changes on employment opportunities of women_______ ________ _______ __ ____ _____ _
The changes and effects in true perspective________ ____ _
II. Illustrative descriptions of changes due to scientific research
and the effect of such changes on the employment opportunities of women_ _____ _______ ___________ ______ ___ __ _________
Dormant natural resources for new and old industries____
New synthetic substances_ ______________________________
New products for old uses_____ _________________________
Development of new branches of old industries___ ______ _
New raw materials and new processes in an old industry__
A new material to meet an old need__________________ ___
New products from old materials_ _______________________
New methods of producing familiar products____________ _
System of interchangeable parts_____ _______ __________ __
Wider application of known forces as a result of research _
New methods of communication__ ____________ __ _________
New commercial service________________________________
Inventions and discoveries which, while not directly r elated to women's employment opportunities, are yet fundamental to the maintenance and development of modern
occupational activities of women as well as men________
III. What the facts suggest_____________ ______ ________________ __





I. Actual and relative number of women employed in the manu-

facture of cotton and cotton goods--census years______ ______
II. Actual and relative number of women employed in the mai:mfacture of glass and glassware--census years_______________
III. Actual and relative number of women employed in the manufacture of paper and wood pulp--census years_____________ _
IV. Actual and relative number of women employed in the manufacture of rubber and rubber products--census years_______
V. Actual and relative number of women employed in the manufacture of tobacco and tobacco products--census years______
VI. Actual and relative number of women employed in canning and
preserving fruits and vegetables, preserves and sauces, fish
and oysters--census years_________________________________
VII. Actual and relative number of women employed in the manufacture of electrical machinery, apparatus, and suppliescensus years_________ _____________________________________
VIII. Women employed as stenographers and typists-census years__
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




W OJShington, August 11, 19f5.
Sm: I have the honor to submit a report on the effects of applied
.research upon the employment opportunities of American women.
Among the functions assigned to the Women's Bureau by its
organic act is advancement of "the opportunities for the profitable
employment " of wage-earning women. This bulletin on the " Effects of Applied Research upon the Employment Opportunities of
American Women " marks only the second expenditure the bureau
has been able to make in the exercise of this function, because resources available to the bureau at the outset did not permit the
simultaneous fulfillment of all the mandates of the organic act.
Activities for the first five years of the bureau's life have been concentrated chiefly upon the promotion of the welfare of wage-earning
women in the occupations and industries in which women had
already been employed before the bureau was created. This concentration does not mean that the advancement of the wage-earning
woman's opportunities for favorable employment is regarded as
Jess important than the other mandates embodied in the organic act.
It means only that the bureau recognized the obvious first claim on
its resources to be the initiation of a continuous series of investigations designed to make clear to the public the present conditions of
woman labor, because this knowledg-e is essential both to continuous
improvement of such conditions and to intelligent advancement of
women's employment opportunities.
It is plain from the facts presented in this report, however, that
the many fundamental changes initiated during and since the World
War in industrial processes must claim increasing attention from this
bureau, as such changes are exerting marked influences upon the
breadwinning opportunities of women dependent for support upon
wages earned in industry and commerce.
Secretary of Lab<n.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Wage-earning women do not work at jobs that are created or held
in an industrial and social vacuum. That the public knows. It
knows that women in factories make things that men and women
in and out of factories desire or need ; that the things made are
fashid'ned out of materials passed along by people at work in other
factories, in the mines, in the open fields, or in the forests. The
public knows that women have been forced out of the home into
factories and mills by the accumulating momentum of invention
and large-scale production. It has accepted the new industrial system as an accomplished fact. Protests against the" woman invasion
of industry" have long since died away. Seven decades of the
woman invasion, chiefly into industries that beneficently robbed the
home of its slow and toilsome hand production, have failed to
develop the predicted loss of love for home and family. In recent years, therefore, the public has turned its attention to the
improvement of the conditions under which women are working in
the world of industry and commerce.
However, although the public has recognized that the forces of
invention and economic necessity which drew woman out of the
home and into the business world are the forces that must keep her
there; although it recognizes that both of these forces are still exerting a powerful influence upon the occupational activities of men and
women; it has not as yet given effective recognition to the fact that
women are not fixed in industry though they are fixtures of industry.
It seems to have been taken tacitly for granted that the circumstances which drew women into office, factory, and mill with little
or no conscious participation of Nation, State, or municipality must
distribute women over the field of industry, and that such circumstances are in no way subject to the control or influence of the public
generally or even of those persons actively interested in advancing
the employment opportunities of women.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The rapid developments of the past decade stress the importanc-e
of keeping in mind that the jobs which women hold in industry a_re
living parts of the whole industrial organism, and as such are undergoing constant changes and are reacting to conditions throughout
the industrial body; that changes are frequently initiated at times
and places wholly remote from the thousands of wage-earning
women now at work in American industries; and what is more important than all, that changes are frequently set in motion by deliberately framed and carefully executed policies. Some of these
policies are political, others are civic, still others are purely industrial, and some are of scientific or educational origin. To all of
them, however, women, as responsible members of the electorate, have
an obligation. Failure to discharge the obligation does not cancel it.
An intelligent discharge of the obligation can not be achieved without full knowledge of the forces that are affecting the employment
opportunities of women throughout the field of industry and commerce.
The purpose of this bulletin is to discuss these opportunities as
affected by a single factor, namely, scientific research applied to industrial processes and commercial systems. Later in these pages
will be found descriptions of conspicuous changes which have occurred in the employment opportunities of women in certain industries as a result of the application of research. The unmistakable import of the data is that the employment opportunities of
women are often advanced, shifted, retarded, or set back as a result
of scientific research, but that the net result is an expansion of the
occupational area open to women. The assembly of facts makes it
equally clear that the results of research are applied not with
hostility to women, not with indifference, nor yet with friendliness.
They are applied usually with no reference at all to the effect on
breadwinning opportunities of American women. The setback has
come through default as the advancement has come through accident, tradition, and the relative availability of man and woman labor
in a locality, such circumstances playing their usual role in the allocations of the new occupations resulting from research. Of course,
in the initiation and prosecution of research projects the possible
influence on either men or women wage earners is rarely, if ever,
taken into account. Indeed, in the prosecution of fundamental research, industry itself is not considered.
" The scientist makes discoveries usually without any idea of their
industrial application," writes an officer of a national organizat ion
of men conc~rned in the development of a practically new American
industry. "It is the function of the engineers to learn of the findings of the scientists and to make applications of them." But in the
application as in the achievement of the results of scientific research,
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there is no perceptible thought given to the effect of the changes on
the employment opportunities of women or to the possibility of
applying the results with selective judgment as to occupational

Changes resulting from research.
Applied research has exerted and is exerting a dominant influence
on the employment opportunities of women 1 in American industry
and commerce in the following ways :
First. By finding commercially available methods of using dormant natural resources for the upbuilding of new industries,
and for supplying raw materials for old industries.
Second. By placing nature's raw materials with synthetic substances; that is, by materials scientifically compounded.
Third. By the creation of new products from materials already
well known.
Fourth. By converting the waste of one industry into raw materials for another industry or into commercially valuable
Fifth. (Inextricably related to the factors stated above.) By
developing new processes of, and new mechanical equipment
for, manufacture.
Sixth. By devising automatic machinery for the manufacture of
interchangeable parts.
Seventh. By inventing new mechanisms for, and new facilities
of, communication.
Eighth. By promoting new commercial methods and devices for
accounting and distributing old and new products.
General effects of such changes on employment opportunities for
In discussing the general effects of scientific research upon the
employment opportunities of women, it should be kept in mind that
this factor does not operate alone. There are many contributing
factors having varying degrees of influence, often modifying, sometimes nullifying, the logical result, of the factor of scientific research-at least for a time. Among such complicating or contributing factors are the relative availability of man and woman labor at
the time when, and in the locality where, changes due to research
are put into effect; the traditions concerning the suitability to
women-or the reverse-of certain industries and occupations; and
1 Manifestly the employment opportunities of men are affected in a corresponding and
often in a relatively greater degree, but the scope and purpose of this report confine.
the discussion to the in1luen.ce of the factors upon the breadwinning opportunities of

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the lack of facilities for training women to meet the requirements
of the new occupations. These factors have always exerted an influence upon the employment opportunities of women, and it is
not to be expected that they will be impotent when scientific research
develops new processes or new materials for old products, or products different from those already known from old or new materials
by the usual or changed processes. The influence of tradition, however. is wearing down with the spread of women over the field of
industry, and all signs point to a growing tendency to discard
tradition and to apply tests in determining what occupations are
suited to women. Labor supply must always be reckoned with, however, and the same is true of other factors though in ·a less degree.
All of them must be taken into account when weighing the results
of the industrial and commercial developments due to scientific research. But in general the effects of such developments upon the
employment opportunities of women, stated without explanation or
illustration, areFirst. That the new industries growing out of the utilization of
hitherto dormant resources h ave opened new employment opportunities to American women, though the occupations performed are sometimes those in which women in other countries have earned their bread for centuries.
Second. That the development of new raw materials, whether
from the extended utilization of natural resources, from a
synthesis of new substances, or from a conversion of the
waste materials of one industry into the basic materials of
another, has had a variety of effects, such as opening absolutely new occupations to women; shifting certain occupations from women to men, while increasing the number of
women employed in other occupations in the same industry;
increasing the actual but decreasing the relative number of
women; increasing both the actual and the relative numbers;
keeping open old occupations that would otherwise have been
closed for lack of raw materials.
Third. That the inventions of new products and new methods
of communication have enormously increased the employment
opportunities for women, though in many cases the activities
performed differ little or not at all from those of occupations
now regarded as peculiarly suited to women.
Fourth. That all of the changes in methods are accompanied
by a conscious effort to eliminate costly waste of material or
excessive labor, to reduce h azard, and to improve working
conditions generally, thus reducing the number of occupations from which women rightly are debarred because of the
physical strain involved.
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Fifth. That whenever the changes in processes give rise to
occupations involving the handling of chemicals in large
quantities, even though mechanical devices only are used in
such occupations, women are not employed; except as chemists engaged in the more or less routine analysis of materials,
the services of women are drafted for the occupations which
follow the chemical processes.
Sixth. That the increase in transportation facilities and the
development of long-distance transmission of power are
increasing employment opportunities for women by permitting industries to range away from the base of power, the
raw materials, and even the markets, in search of adequate
supplies of women workers who, because of their inability to
leave home, would otherwise be without employment opportunities.
Seventh. That the calculating and recording inventions and
the new commercial methods, brought into existence to keep
distribution and accounting abreast with expanding industry,
have enormously increased women's opportunities for clerical
employment, and have likewise opened opportunities for employment in positions requiring greater skill, better training,
and more administrative ability.
Eighth. That the increased opportunities for the employment
of women growing out of the foregoing developments in
applied research do not necessarily increase the total number
of women in industry and commerce beyond the growth occasioned by the growth in the adult woman population. .An
analysis of census figures indicates that the increased opportunities are resulting in a continued relief of the congestion
of woman labor in the older so-called woman-employing
industries-a relief started by the shortage of male labor
during the war.
Ninth. That the wider distribution of women over the field of
industry and commerce and their advancement into better
occupations have not, on the whole, reduced the number nor
impaired the quality of the employment opportunities of men,
for neither men nor boys have taken the places in the old
industries deserted by women. The numbers of both man and
boy wage earners have increased more than the numbers of
woman and girl wage earners during the decade represented
by the last population census. This fact should not convey
the idea that occupations have not been shifted from men to
women; from women to men, and from bot h to machines, as
a result of applied research; it is only to show that the net
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increase in the number of women's employment opportunities
resulting from applied research has not been accompanied by
a net decrease in the employment opportunities £or men.
Furthermore, it must not be understood that each o:f the foregoing
general effects of scientific research upon employment opportunities
flows only from one or another of the changes in materials and
processes described in these pages. .Any one of the changes may
bring about many of the results named if followed through a series
of industries or even through all branches of a single industry. So
also may one of the general effects come from a combination of developments in materials, methods, and products. The causes, like the
effects, are interlocking. This fact makes it of greater importance
that their operation should command the careful study of those
interested in advancing the employment opportunities of American
breadwinning women.

The changes. and effects in true perspective.
The changes o:f the past decade in methods and materials of manufacture and in the systems and commodities of commercial intercourse that are exerting a lasting and far-reaching influence upon
the employment opportunities of women have in many instances
the quality of romance and the character of new adventure. Yet
an important and instructive truth is that these changes and consequences, though staTtling and far-reaching, are frequently not new
in kind but only in the rapidity of occurrence and in the extent of
their application. For example, amazing developments in the utilization of once dormant natural resources were forced by war embargoes on importations of many essentials of manufacture. These
developments had spectacular effects at times on the employment
opportunities for women-the effects being enhanced inevitably during the war by the shortage of male labor. But natural resources
have always been a dominant factor in determining occupational
activities, from the landing of the colonists to the present day. The
difference lies in the fact that in the earlier period of limited knowledge the resources utilized were such as were obvious, easily accessible, and readily usable by simple though slow and laborious
methods. In the later periods, par ticularly during the past decade,
scientific research, under the forced draft of a war necessity and
then under the momentum of the war-born effort, has uncovered new
resources in old localities and has quickly found ways to use known
but dormant resources in both old and new sections of the country.
The results arrested public interest, but their quality of romance
was imparted more by the war ( enforced rapidity of action) than
by any revolutionary principle of action. Just as the motion picture
compresses a whole season of bud and bloom into a swift, dramatic
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process of a few minutes, so the emergencies of the few years
speeded into visibility the age-old influence of natural resource upon
the employment opportunities of women and men alike. A glanee
back will establish the validity of this statement and enhance the importance of the historic and current fact as a concrete suggestion
to those who would advance the employment opportunities of women.
In spite of the growth of the Nation from a few seaboard colonies to a country of over a hundred million people, the streams of
occupational activity are still flowing in channels marked out by the
natural resources of land and sea in the pioneer days of the Nation's
history. The English lady, the German and Dutch housewives, and
the indentured and slave women coming to Ma:ryland and Virginia
in the seventeenth century had their work laid out ~or them by the
fertile soil which, cultivated in large estates, yielded not only
abundant food but the tobacco that h ad the double value of a commodity and a purchasing medium. On the other hand, the stony
soil of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut yielded barely
enough food for the settlers, but the sea a:fforded a great variety of
fish that proved marketable in Europe and the West Indies. Fishing required nets and fishing boats. Marketing fish required fish
merchants, ships, ship equipment, and shipping crews. The grudging soil yielding no uniform abundant crop such as tobacco for a
purchasing medium, the settlers made the articles they could not
-buy and which they required for their daily use. They spun and
wove, and made cloth into clothing. From the plentiful animal
resources they made leather from skins and shoes from the leather;
they turned trees into logs, logs into lumber, and lumber into structures and into the myriad of frames and handles required for tools,
utensils, and horse-drawn implements; they built their own flour
mills and iron foundr.i,es, and in all these activities the women of the
Colonies · had a share, even in the work in the flour and saw mills.
The basic physical conditions and the obvious natural resources in the
New England States, as elsewhere in the country, set the tasks
and made the permanent channels through which the occupational
activities flowed in increasing volume even to the present time. For
Massachusetts is still first in fisherie.r-though the fish mean more
than food to-day. Scientific reasearch has found ways of making
fish skins into leather, and fish scales into pearls. It has converted
waste fish and fish waste into fertilizer. It has, in short, stimulated
and extended the importance of a.n industry already old in Massachusetts and in other seaboard States.
The South still raises its cotton and tobacco primarily, though the
occupational channels are enlarging in response to the growiB.g
use of hitherto unused resources. Research, when our N &tion was
cut off from its imported supplies of fine ceramic materials, found
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ways to use the china and art-pottery clays of the South for the manufacture of the wares to which we were accustomed. The development was speeded by an unexpected shortage and resulted in the birth
of a new industry in the South and new employment opportunities
to southern bread winning women, though the occupations thus opened
are as old as civilization to women of other countries. It is true that
the industry is still an infant, and the employment opportunities are
correspondingly limited; but the industry is growing, and is feeding
upon a wealth of natural resource in raw materials which make
the South a logical place for its upbuilding, while extensive transportation facilities make it practicable for the potteries of Ohio, New
Jersey, and other States to draw upon the South for such materials
as they can not get more advantageously from overseas.
Under the impact of unparalleled demands, scientific research
compassed with surprising rapidity the skill to supply the Nation
with the optical-instrument and chemical glass which could no longer
be imported but which was indispensable to American medicine,
to all the physical sciences, to industry, and to the daily needs and
creature comforts of civilian life. Suddenly, at the command of
concentrated research, rose a new industry in America-and with it
new employment opportunities for women-out of the sand, the
soda, the lead, the lime, the baryta, and the other raw materials
stored away in American soils.
Unquestionably, the developments affecting the employment opportunities of women which seem newest in kind ·are the results of investigations initiated £or the purpose of finding new material for old
products and of making new products out of old materials. Not
only do these forces seem like new forces of far-reaching influen.:;c,
but they are usually responsible for new, which in turn
bring into existence new mechanical equipment--all affecting directly
or indirectly the employment opportunities of women. As shown in
the illustrative descriptions submitted later in this report, such research methods have found out the secret of the silkworm's process
of manufacture; have produced from wood pulp, cotton waste, and
other cellulose substances, something similar to the worm's viscose
secretions, and have borrowed the principle of the silkworm's spi1~neret for drawing the viscose liquid into fine :filaments. As a result
of the discovery, American girls-some of them working in wartime powder plants where they turned this same cellulose into explosives-are now preparing thread for the manufacture of the lustrous
new artificial silk, or rayon, used in combination with the cotton, the
wool, and the natural silk in woven and knit goods made by hundreds
of thousands of other girls in textile mills, w·o men having found
employment in American cloth-making industries since colonial days.
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In a word, out of this triumph of research came new r~w materials,
a new product, a new industry, and new employment opportunities
for American women in occupations which, though analogous to
some of the work done for centuries by the Chinese, Japanese,
Italian, and Spanish girls who reel the filaments from the silkworm
cocoon, require such a degree of ability and training that some of the
manufacturers of rayon employ only high-school graduates. And all
this-as an important commercial and industrial factor-has come
about in the short span of half a dozen years. The research that first
produced artificial silk as a laboratory achievement, however, is
nearly half a century old.
Another striking example of the dramatically swift development
of new raw materials-but in this case for maintaining an old
product-is afforded by the perfume industry. Until a few years ago
the flowers gathered by the peasant girls of France, Bulgaria, and
southern Italy and the cloves and spices of the far East furnished
the great bulk of materials for the American aromatic industry, as
they furnished a · 1arge share of the finished perfumes sold in the
American market. ,vithin the past decade, however, chemical
research has discovered how . to extract and to build up the
perfumes of a thousand blooms and the flavors of acres of
orchards from lumps of soft coal, which are but the residue
of long dead forests and of millions upon millions of buried
blooms. These discoveries, which have linked the manufacture of perfumes and flavors in a vital relation to the production_
of medicinals,2 have transferred an important source of tlie industry's raw material from the :flowering fields of Europe and Asia to
our own by-product coke ovens. Unfortunately, the 1923 census of
manufactures does not report the numbers of men and women employees separately, but it is stated that the increase in the value of
perfume materials during the past decade (1914 to 1924) was over
400 per cent. 3 Even after full allowance is made for the reduced
purchasing power of the dollar during this peri9d, the increase in
the industry due to the swift development of a new raw material
remains spectacular.
Of course, these and many kindred discoveries of the past decade
are new in the sense that the resulting raw materials or products,
or both, are new and have opened, or bid fair to open, additional
2 " Products which t<>-day are known as perfumes and solvents, tomorrow may become
very important drugs. Processes • • * used in the building up of fine perfumery
substances are producing valuable drugs for the relief of pain and the curing of diseases • • •." (Iserma.nn, s·., Perfumes and flavors. In. Chemistry in Industry • • •
ed. by H. El. Howe. New York, Chemical foundation, 1924. p. 293.)
3 " In this country, for instance, in 1914 the production of perfume and perfume ma,.
terials was valued at a bout sixteen million dollars; in 1924, in accordance with census
returns, it is about eighty-five million dollars, or an increase of over 400 per cenL"
(Isermann. S., op. cit., p. 288.)
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employment opportunities for women. But they are not new in the
sense that they present the first examples of successful search for
new materials and new products. The phenomenal speed by which
they were achieved under the stress of circumstances has made them
stand out as unparalleled in the history of manufacture. 'While the
speed of achievement was dramatic and carries a lesson discussed
later in these pages, the discovery of new raw materials or of new
products resulting from research and affecting the employment
opportunities of women has been paralleled in comparatively recent
industrial history. Paper manufacture, for example, a one-time conspicuous employer of women, depended for its raw materials upon
the rags collected by the "ragmen " in this country and upon the
large importations of rags from many overseas countries; but the
use of paper gradually outgrew the supply of rags and forced the
development of n~w raw materials. When wood pulp was discovered to be commercially available for certain grades of p~per men
took the places of women in the basic processes. Because of the
resulting growth of the industry, however, the actual number of
women increased, though the number of men increased much faster.
A glance back over the effects of research and invention upon
the employment opportunities of women in the commercial world
will reveal results that are prototypes and some that are parallels
of the dramatic developments of the past decade in the field of
manufacture. It is a little more than half a century since "the
search for knowledge loosened by wire and wireless the bonds of
silence in which intervening miles held the human voice."·' It is
less than a decade since radio really put people the world over
within speaking distance of one another. Naturally these achievements are thought of in terms of service to humanity as a whole,
but, with a single exception, no changes in the methods of the business world (be they methods of 'manufacture or methods of commerce) have opened so many employment opportunities to women
as the commercial introduction of the telegraph and telephone.
What wireless telegraphy and the radio will do, except in their effect
on the manufacture of electrical supplies, remains to be seen. As
will be observed, however, from the later detailed account of changes
in telephone systems, this field affords a striking illustration of the
shift of occupations to machines as a result of research and invention. Thus far the shift has been more th an offset by the phenomenal
increase in the use of the telephone, which has called for a steady
increase in the numbers of women in the service of the telephone
companies in spite of the changes. What the effect of the great
' To American women-a plea. p. 3. (Issued by officers of the General Federation of
Women's Clubs; National Civic Federation, Woman's Department; American .Assocla·
tion of University Women; Girl Scouts; and Daughters of the American Revolution .)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



shift now going on £rom switchboard operators to automatic switching devices will have on the employment opportunities of women
in the telephone business only the next and succeeding census of
occupations can say. The growth shown in the use of long-distance
service, however, together with the record of net increases in numbers following the introduction of labor-saving devices, furnishes a
fair basis for the confidence that progress in methods of communication also will result in net increases in employment opportunities
for women whatever shift in specific occupations such progress may
Finally, how the area of occupations from which women were
barred by physical demands has been reduced by mechanical invention was discussed at some length in a bulletin issued by this bureau
in 1921. 5 .An outstanding fact revealed in the bulletin was that the
shortage of male labor forced in a conspicuous degree the application of lifting and holding devices in the manufacture of articles
the weight of which was more than women could handle safely or
efficiently, and the making of which, therefore, had previously been
confined to men. These constituted instructive illustrations of employment opportunities thrown open to women by the application
of new methods to the manufacture of old products. Some of these
inventions were regarded at first as merely emergency measures for
use until male labor was again available, but in many cases both the
new measures and the women were retained; in others the methods
were retained even after men were restored to the occupations, as
such methods were found to promote the efficiency of male labor by
eliminating needless human exertion.
On the whole, then, the facts assembled in this report gain full
significance only when kept in their true historic perspective. Only
in this light will recent developments exerting such far-reaching influences upon breadwinning women appear in their proper relation
to the industrial and social body and afford germane and practical
suggestions .for advancing the opportunities for the favorable employment of women.
5 U. S. Department of Labor.
Women's Bureau. New position of women in American
Industry. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1920. 158 p., pl. (Bulletin 12.)

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It is safe to say that there is not a single important industry
which has not been affected by the progress of scientific research in
this or other countries. The usual objective· in applying the results
of such research is to reduce costs, increase production, and treate
new products or forms of service. When the objective is achieved,
the employment opportunities of men or women or both are affected.
Following are some illustrative descriptions of changes due to research and their influence upon the employment opportunities of
women in specific industries_and occupations.
Dormant natural resources for new and old industries.
One of the most striking examples of the development 0£ a dormant natural resource is that of aluminum. In this connection,
the following quotation is of interest: 6
To the useful metals of the ancients none was added until aluminum was
extracted fro Di clay by the chemists of to-day. It is easy to extract gold
and silver which are found as metallic particles in the earth's crust; harder
to obtain iron, zinc, copper, and tin, which occur as substances in which the
metal is as much hidden as the charcoal in sugar. But it is most difficult
to obtain aluminum, which can be extracted only by the aid of the electric
current; and that is _ why it remained unknown for so many hundreds of
years. Likewise the metals chromium, vana dium, tungsten, and molybdenum
have become available for the benefit of man, who could have no automobile
and no mazda light without them.

Aluminum as a constituent of the earth's crust-was known to metallurgists of old, but the way to extract it from clays was not discovered until 1854, and it was more than 30 years later that an
American, Charles Martin Hall, succeeded in finding ways to produce aluminum commercially. The cost of manufacturing it by
Hall's process was excessive, and at that time there was no market
for the newly discovered metal. Extensive research over a period
of years has reduced the cost of manufacturing and found innumer• Rose, Robert E.
p. 5.

Molecules and ma.n..

Wilmington, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co..

[c 1920}.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



able uses for the metal. · Its abilit y to withstand organic acids,
as well as its high thermal conductivity, renders aluminum especially
available for cooking utensils, whether for the home or for the
:factory. In this field it is replacing tin, iron, and copper. Its nonmagnetic qualities make it useful in electrical work. It is o:f utmost
importance in the production o:f dirigibles such as the Shenandoah
and Los Angeles.
Aluminum forms alloys readily. When combined with zinc it
becomes rigid and easily machined, while retaining its lightness,
so that it is extensively used in automobiles and aircraft. In 1888
no aluminum was consumed in this country; in 1923 we produced
129,000,000 pounds. 7 Our rich and abundant deposits o:f bauxite
:from which metallic aluminum is secured make the chemists' search
for new uses of aJuminum--especially to replace metals o:f which
we have none in this country-of importance to the Nation as a
Women play no part in the elaborate chemical process of winning
aluminum _from bauxite nor in the electrolytic process of reducing
it to metallic aluminum. But once the aluminum ingots and plates
are turned out, the lightness of the metal and its easily molded
quality make it one that women can handle to advantage: In 1914
there were only 364 women and girls engaged in the aluminum
industry. 8 The latest census figures on the number of women employed in manufacturing aluminum ware are for the year 1919, at
which time there were reported 1,241 women and girls as employees,
forming about 13 per cent of the total number of wage earners
in this industry. 9 Since 1919 the numbers of persons employed
have increased with increased production, but no figures are available to indicate the extent to which women have gained a further
foothold in aluminum-ware manufacture. There is good ground
:for the belief that the extended use of aluminum to replace heavier
metals will tend to draw more women into the metal-working industries.
'l'he mazda lamp . of to-day, in whose manufacture so many women
are employed, is another interesting example of the e:ff ect of scientific research in opening up avenues of employment for women.
This type of lamp has tungsten filaments which give three times as
much light per unit of electricity consumed as the carbon filament
used prior to 1912. The phonograph record is played with a stylus
made of tungsten. But more important in modern industrial development is the value of tungsten in toughening steel. Hard steels
T Metal Industry, November 1924, p. 450.
• U. S. Bureau ot the Census. Census of manufactures: 1914. v. 2, p. 9-08.
0 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Fourteenth census: 1920. v. 8, Manufactures, 1919.
p. 298,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



would not have been industrially available if chemical research had
not discovered methods of toughening with tungsten the steel used
for tools to machine the hard steels. The cutting edge of the ordinary steel tool would have been entirely dest:r;oyed as a result of
the friction against hard steel castings, whereas the tungsten highspeed .tool steels can cut hard steels five times as fast and maintain
sharp cutting edges. Tools of this type invented in the nineties
have revolutionized machine-shop methods.
Tungsten occurs, however, in irregular pockets in the earth, and,
in view of the increasing demand for the product, the underground
mining necessary to secure it from the deposits in the United States
is expensive and of doubtful efficiency. Accordingly, many chemists believe that another metal, molybdenum, can be used in place of
tungsten, both for hardening steel and for the filament in electric •
lamps. Molybdenum is of frequent occurrence in the granite rocks
of the United States, and is a metal of which very limited use
has been made as yet. Its use in place of tungsten, if proved
feasible, would give this country an ample domestic supply of metal
essential to a very large number of industries, many of them large
employers of women now and some offering to women increasing
employment opportunities from year to year.
While women have no part in the manufacture of tungsten steel
or other alloys of steel, the indirect importance of such manufacture
to women wage earners is evident. Much of the work which women
do in instrument manufacture, in electrical-goods manufacture, and
in the metal-product industries wmtld not be possible were it not
for the recent discoveries of ores that give to steel qualities other
than those obtainable from pig iron alone. In the manufacture of
smaller parts out of the rare new minerals, however, women are
finding a new field. One firm manufacturing tungsten and molybdenum products states that 70 per cent of its factory pay roll is
made up of women, who are employed on light assembling jobs and
on light machines, such as riveting machines.
The rare earths had been known to chemists for many years,
but it was Baron Auer von W elsbach who discovered a practical use
for two of them, thoria and ceria, both obtained from monazite sands
by a complex chemical process. He produced the incandescent gas
mantle, of which approximately 100,000,000 are used in this country
each year, both for artificial ·and natural gas lighting and for gasoline and kerosene lighting. To a large extent these mantles are
made by women. Just how many are employed in the industry is
not known, but two firms reporting stated the proportion of women
in their factories to be about 80 per cent. The mantles, when made
of cotton, are knit into ·cylindrical form by women. They are then
bleached and thoroughly washed before being treated with a solu-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



tion of thorium and cerium nitrates and small quantities of strengthening substances. The fabric, after being cut into suitable lengths
is closed at one end with asbestos thread. It is then dried and
shaped and "burned off," inspected, and finally dipped into a solution of collodion to make possible the shipment of the delicate
There are many metals known to science that have not yet been
brought into the service of man. As the metallurgist and chemist
find uses for them, the refinement of metal work will grow, and with
each demand for a finer quality of material comes the need for
more instruments and better methods of testing. In these fields
alone, the expansion of the metal industry through the use of new
metals brings unmeasured employment opportunities for America's
· bread winning women.

New synthetic substances.
It is doubtful whether the discovery of a new raw material has
had so grea"t an _effect upon so many industries and such different industries as has the development of the synthetic plastics. They are
an outstanding illustration of the effect of a man-made substance on
industrial employment. Synthetic plastics have been called structural materials, but they could with equal truth be called finishing
materials, as they can be worked into lacquers and varnishes. They
may lay claim to the name of a n ew product, as they appear in
the jewelers' windows side by side with the pearls made of fish scales
or those grown in the oyster's shell. They appear as compounded
gems of many colors and myriad forms. But " structural materials" best fits the character of synthetic plastics, because they enter into the structure of the product of so many industries. In
spite of the multiple uses and expanding importance of synthetic
plastics, their characteristics are not familiar to the public. A
vivid description of both their quality and their uses was made available a few years ago in these words : 10
Without going into the question of their variations and relative merits we
may consider the advantages of the pyroxylin plastics (another term for
synthetic plastics) in general. Here we have a new substance, the product of
the creative genius of man, and, therefore, adaptable to his needs. It is hard
but light, tough but elastic, easily made a nd tolerably cheap. Heated to the
boiling point of water, it ,becomes soft and flexible. It can be turned, carved,
ground, polished, bent, pressed, stamped, molded, or blown. To make a block
of any desired size simply pile up the sheets and put them in a hot press. To
get sheets of any desired thickness, simply shave them off the block. To make
a tube of any desired size, shape, or thickness, squirt out the mixture through
a ring-shaped hole or roll the sheets around a hot ba.r. Cut the tube into

Slosson,, Edwin E. Creative chemistry.

p. 132-144.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




New York, Ce!ntury Co., 1921.



sections and you have rings to be shaped and stamped into bo:x bodies or
napkin rings. Print words or pictures on a celluloid sheet, put a thin transparent sheet over it, and weld them together, then you have something like the
horn book of our ancestors, but better.
Nowadays such things as celluloid a_n d pyraliri can be sold under their own
name, but in the early days the artificial plastics, like every new thing, had
to resort to camouflage, a very humiliating expedient since in some cases they
were better than the material they were forced to imitate. Tortoise shell, for
instance, cracks, splits, and twists, but a "tortoise shell" comb of celluloid
looks as well and lasts better. Horn articles are limited to size of the ceratinous appendages that can be borne on the animal's head, but an imitation of
horn can be made of any thickness by wrapping celluloid sheets about a
cone • • •.
The precious red coral of the Mediterranean can be perfectly imitated by
taking a cast of a coral branch and filling in the mold with celluloid of the
same color and hardness. The clear luster of amber, the dead black of ebony,
the cloudiness of onyx, the opalescence of alabaster, the glow of carnelian
* * • are now within the reach of everyone, thanks to this chamel~on
material. Mosaics may be multiplied indefinitely by laying together sheets
and sticks of celluloid, suitably cut and colored to make up the picture, fusing
the mass, and then shaving off thin layers from the end. That chef d'amvre
of the Venetian glass makers, the Battle of Isus, from the House of the Faun in
Pompeii, can be reproduced as fast as the machine can shave them off the
block. .And the tesserae do not fall out like those you bought_ on the Rialto.
The process thus does for mosaics, ivory, and coral what printing does for
pictures. It is a mechanical multiplier, and only by such means can we ever
attain to a state of democratic luxury * • *.
[This pyroxylin plastic appears in] handles for canes, umbrellas, mirrors ancl
brushes, knives, whistles, toys, • • • blown animals, card cases, chains,
charms, brooches, badges, bracelets, rings, book bindings, hairpins, campaign
buttons, cuff and collar buttons, cuffs, collars, and dickies, tags, cups, knobs,
paper cutters, picture frames, chessmen, pool balls, ping-pong balls, piano keys,
dental plates, masks for disfigured faces, penholders, eyeglass frames, goggles,
playing cards-and you can carry on the list as far as you like. .
Celluloid has its disadvantages. You may mold, you may color the stuff as
you will, the scent of the camphor will cling around it still. This is not usually objectionable except where the celluloid is trying to pass itself off for
something else, in which case it deserves no sympathy. It is attacked and
dissolved by hot acids and alkalies. It softens up when heated, which is
handy in shaping it, though not so desirable afterwards. But the worst of its
failings is its combustibility. It is not explosive, but it takes fire from a
flame and burns furiously with clouds of black smoke.
But celluloid is only one of many plastic substances that have been introduced to the present generation. A new and important group of them is
now being opened up, the so-called "condensation products • • • ."
• • • Now Prof. Adolf von Baeyer discovered in 1872 that when
phenol and formaldehyde were brought into contact they seized upon one
another and formed a combine of unusual tenacity; that is, a resin. But
• • • chemists· in those days were shy of resins. Klee berg in 1891 tried
to make something out of it and W. H. Story in 1895 went so far as to name
the product " resinite," but nothing came of it until 1909, when L. H. Baekeland undertook a serious and systematic study of this reaction in New
York • • •.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Later Dr. Baekeland turned his attention to the phenol condensation
products, working gradually up from test tubes to ton vats * * * He
found that when equal ;eights of phenol and formaldehyde were mixed and
warmed in the presence of an alkaline catalytic agent the solution separated
into two layers, the upper aqueous and the lower a resinous precipitate. This
resin was soft, viscous, and soluble in alcohol or acetone. But if it was heated
under pressure it changed into another and a new kind of resin that was hard,
inelastic, unplastic, infusible, and insoluble • • *. It is called " bakelit.e "
after its inventor.
The two stages in its preparation are convenient in many ways. For instance, porous wood may be soaked in the soft resin and then by heat and pressure it is changed to the bakelite form and the wood comes out with a hard
finish that may be given the brilliant polish of Japanese lacquer. Paper, cardboard, cloth, wood pulp, sawdust, asbestos, and the like may be impregnated
with the resin, producing tough and hard .• material suitable for various purposes. Brass work painted with it and then baked at 300° F. acquires a
lacquered surface that is unaffected by soa p. Forced in powder or sheet form
into molds under a pressure of 1,200 to 2,000 pounds to the square inch, it
takes the most delicate impressions. Billiard balls of bakelite are claimed to
be better than ivory because, having no grain, they do not swell unequally
with heat and humidity and so lose their sphericity. Pipestems and beads of
bakelite have the clear brilliancy of amber and greater strength. Fountain
pens made of it are transparent, so you can see how much ink you have left.
A new and enlarging field for bakelite a nd allied products is the making of
noiseless gears for automobiles and other machinery, also of airplane propellers.
Celluloid is more plastic and elastic than bakelite. It is therefore more
easily worked in sheets and small objects. Celluloid can be made perfectly
transparent and colorless, while bakelite is confined to the range between a
clear amber and an opaque brown or black. On the other hand, bakelite has
the advantage in being tasteless, odorless, inert, insoluble, and noninflammable.
This last quality and its high electrical r esistance give bakelite its chief field
of usefulness • • •. Bakelite is used in its liquid form for impregnating
coils to keep the wires from short-circuiting and in its solid form for commutators, magnetos, switch blocks, distributers, and all sorts of electrical apparatus for automobiles, telephones, wireless telegraphy, electric lighting, etc.
Bakelite, however, is only one of an indefinite number of such condensation
products. As Baeyer said long ago : " It seems that all the aldehydes will, under
suitable circumstances, unite with the aromatic hydrocarbons to form
resins • • *."
A phenolic condensation product closely related to bakelite and redmanol is
condensite, the invention of Jonas Walter Aylesworth * * •.
Condensite is anhydrous and infusible, and, like its rivals, finds its chief
employment in the insulation parts of apparatus. The· records of
the Edison phonograph are made of it. So are the buttons of our bluejackets.
The Government at the outbreak of the war ordered 40,000 goggles in condensite frames to protect the eyes of our gunners from the glare and acid
• • • Formaldehyde will attack almost anything, even molecules many
times its size. Gelatinous and albuminous substances of all sorts are solidified
by it. Glue, skimmed milk, blood, eggs, yeast, brewer's slops may by this magic
agent be rescued from waste and reappear in our buttons, hairpins, roofing,
phonographs, shoes, or shoe polish • • •.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




There seems to be no limit to these compounds and every week the journats
report new processes and patents.

The foregoing sketch of the characteristics and uses of some of the
synthetic plastics a:ff ords almost a panoramic picture of the industries which are concerned in the discovery and application of this
new material. Every old or established industry mentioned is a conspicuous employer of women and the comparatively new industries
named are employing women in some cases to a marked degree.
Speaking of celluloid and pyralin substances before the Ways and
Means Committee of the United States House of Representatives in
1921, a witness said: 11
This [industry] has been wholly developed since the invention of this material by an American 50 years ago, and ground has hardly been scratched in
the useful application of this wonderful substance. It is impossible to accurately arrive at the total number of persons employed, but we think a conservative estimate to place the number at 75,000.

A manufacturer of celluloid products, speaking before the same
committee, said : 12
* * * We moved our factory away from Newark * * *. We took it
up to the tops of the P ennsylvania hills, up in the Pocono Mountains * * •.
We employed last year 375 girls, * * * those girls * * * we picked up
and trained, that never had been in a factory before and did not know what
it was.

Discussing the growth of his branch of the industry, this manufacturer of celluloid articles said :
We [three concerns] are all new concerns * * *. The latest information is that the industry has started west, that new factories have opened in
Chicago and in Louisville * * * and one in San Antonio, Tex.

The service manager of another firm whose manufacture of plastic
compounds is a by-product activity growing out of the vast tonnage
of what otherwise would be waste in the manufacture 0-f its main
product, writes :
Our most extensive employment of women occurs in our pyralin factot"y
where approximately 250 women are employed as small-machine operators and
:finished-goods inspectors.

The personal-ornament industries have been stimulated and expanded especially during the past five years by the introduction of
the plastic compounds. As the United States census of manufactures
does not keep separate the data on industries using any given raw or
structural materials, it is not possible to say at this time just how
11 U. S. Congress.
House or Representatives. Committee on Ways and Means. Ta.riff
information, 1921. Hearings on general tariff revision before the Committee on Wqs
and Means. Washington, Govt. Print. Oft., 1921. p. 147.
u Ibid., p. 161-164.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



many women are affected by the increasing use of these plastics in
the manufacture of artificial jewelry and other personal ornaments ;
but since this work has always been regarded as particularly suited
to women, it is safe to say that a new and easily handled raw material will expand the employment opportunities of women as it
expands the personal-orna,nent industry.
It is not necessary ta go farther down the list of industries affected
by the discovery of this single new structural material to demonstrate
the far-reaching influence of such changes on industrial processes.
Without the testimony quoted and without the confirmation of the
official manufacturing census it is clear that the introduction of a
new substance, extremely light, durable, and capable of manifold
uses, must exert an increasing influence upon the employment opportunities of women, for not only does such material enter into a larger
number of products in daily use, but it gives rise to a growing volume
of new products. In the manufacture of these, women can participate without the drag of tradition which checks their entrance into
many occupations underlying manufactures long regarded as the
peculiar product of man labor.

New products for old uses.
The searchlight of ingenuity has been playing over the fiber
world all through the centuries to discover materials out of- which,
and methods by which, inore and better clothing and other covering
could be made. It was, indeed, a boon to the young United States,
dependent upon Europe for wool and flax, not only when the clothmaking possibilities 0£ cotton were discovered but when the cotton
gin was invented, making large-scale cotton-fiber production possible; ·when a spinning m!chine was constructed by which cotton
roving could be spun for the warp as well as for the woof of cloth ;
and when drawing and roving frames were successfully operated
:for producing cotton thread stronger than some linen These
.American inventions, all successful in the last years of the eighteenth
century, together with a favorable cotton-growing soil and climate
in the Southern States, made cotton much more available to American people than any other fiber. Other machines were quickly invented, until in 1814 cotton spinning and weaving were done in one
building by power machinery, "the first complete factory in the
world." The amount of cotton shipped from the South to New
England grew from 500 bales in 1800 to 90,000 bales in 1815.18
The burden of cotton-cloth production immediately fell upon the
women of the early communities. Men had been fullers of wool and
weavers of wool and linen in Europe and they continued to ply

Scherer, A. B. Cotton as a world power.

[C. 1916}.

p. 175.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

New York, Frederick A. Stokes Ce>.,



these crafts in the Colonies; but no tradition existed concerning
cotton-cloth making in the New World, the first use of cotton dating
from the time of the settlement of the early Colonies. From the
very beginning cotton-cloth manufacture developed as a woman's
industry. In the first factories in which only yarn was made, Gallatin estimated that there w,ere employed seven times as many women
and children as men. 14 The first power looms were operated by
women. Descriptions of cotton mills in which all work was done
by machinery show that only two occupations which had been done
by woman in the days of household manufacture had been taken
from her, while occupations nonexistent in colonial days had been
opened to her. · The two occupations lost were the cleaning of cotton
and the dyeing and finishing of cloth. Carding, drawing and roving,
spinning, spooling, warping, dressing, drawing in, and weaving of
cotton materials were all done by women in the early mills.
Since 1860 numerous inventions have greatly simplified the operations while at the same time they have improved the quality of the
goods and increased the speed of output. The simplification was
brought about in the first instance to meet continuous changes in
the character of the labor supply available for cotton mills. In the
North, women of the type of the early cotton-mill operators ceased
to work in cotton mills and became teachers and nurses during and
after the Civil War. Their places had to be filled from the ranks
of newly arrived men immigrants. In the South, the policy of
d rawing upon mountaineer families temporarily increased the supply of men more than the supply of women operators.
In spite of the simplification, which has enormously increased the
per capita output, and in spite of the change in the relative supply
of man and woman labor, the actual numbers of women have increased 194 per cent since 1850, as compared with a 580 per cent
increase in the numbers of men during the same period. 15
The growth of the cotton industry in this country, however, has
not stopped the search for other materia~s from which to make
clothing and other covering. The silkworm's cocoon spinning has
long been the envy of man, and many years have been spent in
efforts to imitate the silkworm's method of producing a silk fiber.
Chemists, working with different materials, but, like the silkworm,
producing a semiliquid substance which, when passed through fine
capillary openings (the silkworm's spinneret) hardens immediately
into fine fibers, have succeeded in making not one but several kinds
of fibers of high luster. .These fibers are not silk but are new
U. S. Con~ress. American state papers:
1809. Washington, 1832. p. 4.27.
16 See appendix Table I.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Finance, v. 2, Report on Manufactures,



fibers which have never existed in nature. They have been named
"rayon" by the men who are spinning and weaving them into
threads and clothes. As yet they have not the strength of raw
silk when wet and are not as a rule used alone for fabrics requiring
much washing and heavy wear, but are used in combination with raw
silk or cotton and wool to add luster or give color design and twocolor effects to clothes--e:ffects which can not be obtained with
nature's products alone. Chemists are constantly at work studying
methods whereby rayon fibers of greater strength and fineness can
be produced. Just as cotton roving has been spun into threads
strong enough for warp as well as for woof ever since Samuel Slater
built his spinning machine in 1790, so some one in the years to come
will find the way to make cloth strong enough for hard wear
entirely out of the new product, rayon.
That rayon already has found its place among textiles is evidenced by the fact that the world production of rayon in 1923 was
90,000,000 pounds-an amount almost 50 per cent higher than the
world's production of silkworm silk in that year. 16
The manufacture of rayon as an industry in the United States
began in 1911, when 320,000 pounds were produced by one company.
In 1919 three companies were operating and the production had
grown to 8,004,798 pounds. The figures on production in the
United States for the years following are here presented: 17

1920 ______________ ___ ___ ______ ____ __ _________ _______ 9,000,000
1921 __ _____ ___________ __ ______ ___ ___________________ 18,000,000
1922_____________ ___________ ___ _____________________ 26,000,000
1923 _____ ____ __ __ ____ ___ ___ ___ ______ ____ ____________ 35,490,000
1924 -------------- - -------------------------------- 38, 850, ·000

In 1924 there were five firms that had produced 500,000 pounds
or more each and several establishments were operating that reported a smaller production. At the beginning of 1925 two other
large companies started operations. In the seven large establishments manufacturing rayon in 1925, the fibers were made by the
viscose proc~ss in some plants, by the Chardonnet process in one
plant, and from cellulose acetate in others.
All plants, regardless of the chemical processes involved in manufacturing the lustrous fiber, have need for women's service. This
demand occurs not in the departments that convert wood or cotton
cellulose into the crude rayon thread, but primarily in the operations
which turn the crude thread into marketable skeins. In the earlier
processes of manufacture, in which the cellulose substances are
e Textile World, February 7, 1925, p. 321.
Compil\ d from manufacturers' reports by the Textile World, May 24, 1924, February 7, 1926.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



treated with various chemicals under differing temperatures until
reduced to liquid form and are then forced through spinnerets,
emerging as fine filaments, the work involved requires highly experienced supervisors and strong laborers. An official of a large
rayon factory stated that women help in the chemical part of the
manufacture of rayon only, as testers of chemicals to be used in the
manufacturing process and as testers of the mixtures at final stages
of the manufacture. But once the fine filaments have been coagulated and caught up into threads and purified, rayon manufacture
becomes a woman's industry. After the thread has been wound
into skeins on reeling machines, girls snap the skeins on wooden
pegs to pull out the kinks and then carefully examine the threads
for grade. Much of the product is shipped in skein form, but the
larger plants wind the rayon onto bobbins, then double it and twist
it onto spools and tubes ready for knitting or weaving mills. The
latter processes are analogous to those which women perform in the
raw-silk throwing mills. The new occupations which rayon production has opened to women in this country are the reeling of crude
thread into skeins, the inspecting and grading of skeins, and routine
chemical analysis.
Not only has the commercial production of this man-made fiber
opened a few new occupations to women but it has tended to incr ease
the numbers of women in textile manufacture. There are no figures
available as to the total number of women employed in rayon
manufacture. Information on numbers employed was obtained
from two firms producing more than 40 per cent of the 1924 tonnage. These firms employed approximately 7,000 wage earners, of
whom 42 per cent, or about 2,900, were women. Applying the production rate per person in these plants to the total production in
all plants during 1924, and assuming that the proportion of women ,
employed was the same in other factories as in these two plants,
there would be approximately 7,000 women working in rayon plants
in 1924.
At the present writing the market for rayon continues to excee<l
the present production capacities of plants, so that the future for
women in this new industry is bright. Rayon does not seem to have
taken the place of older fibers in textiles, but rather to have made
a place for itself. Whether further research resulting in strengthening the fiber will also find ways whereby it can be produced into
cloth by methods less laborious than that of world-old weaving,
only the future will tell. Already rayon net is formed by pressing
the substance over a roller. Should a similar means be found of
making material corresponding to tightly woven cloth, the employ639830-~6---5
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ment of women~in the older textile industries would undergo farreaching changes. The ceaseless search for ·new and better methods
of making new or better fabrics holds unmeasured possibilities in
employment opportunities for women in the textile industries. Di:;cussing the future of chemically treated cellulose one chemist said
.five years ago : 18
It may by one operation give us fabrics instead of threads. A. machine has
been invented for manufacturing net and lace, the liquid material being poured
on one side of a roller and the fabric being reeled off of the other side. The
process seems capable of indefinite extension and application to various sorts
of woven, knit and reticulated goods • • •. In short, we seem to be on the
eve of a revolution in textiles.

Development of new branches of old industries.
Nearly 100 years ago (1832) a report to the Secretary of the
United States Treasury showed that 16 women were employed in
American glass factories painting the glass or covering the demijohns manufactured in the establishment. They were not, therefore,
engaged in gla&S manufacture at all. In 1850 the United States
Census of Manufactures reported 97 women wage earners and nearly
5,600 men wage earners in American glass factories. During the
three decades next succeeding, there was a steady and substantial
increase in the nun;ibers of men. While the percentage of increase
in the numbers of women was great, the actual numbers involved
were so small that the rate of increase resulted in a total of fewer
than 750 women in 1880. 19 · During the next 10 years the number
more than doubled, but even then there were fewer than 2,000 women
engaged in American glass factories. In 1900 there were over 42,000
men and more than 3,500 women glass workers. Five years later,
when the United States Census of Manufactures was taken, the
number of men had increased by nearly 12,000, but the number of
women had decreased slightly. In 1909 there were but approximately 4,500 women as compared with approximately 76,000 men,
and as late as 1914 the women in glass industries numbered but 4,999
as compared with 76,909 men. 20 In 1919, however, the number of
men had increased only 4,305, while the number of women had
jncreased by 5,411, or about 108 per cent. 21 Furthermore, there are
evidences that since the publication of the 1919 Census of Manufactures- and the 1920 Census of Occupations the increase in the numbers of women in the glass factories has been even more marked
than in the five-year periods ending 1919 or 1920.
Slosson, Edwin E. Creative chemistry • • • New York, Century Co., 1921.
p. 121.
19 See appendix Table II.
30 U. S. Bureau of th~ Census.
Census of me.nufactures: 1914. v. 2, p. 836.
1920. v. 8, . Manufactures, 1919.
n U. S. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth
p. 388.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



An officer of a national ceramic organization, in answer to a question as to the recent increases in the numbers of women in the glass
indus"try as a result of scientific research, writes:
One need but o go into a glass factory and note the large number of women
employed t here to-day a nd compare this with the almost total absence of
women 10 or 15 years a go to appreciate what science, as applied by the engineer s, has done in making lighter and more comfortable manufacturing
pr ocesses.

The reference of the writer above quoted to " the almost total absence of women " doubtless refers to the fact that until the second
decade of the twentiet;h century occupations open to women in the
glass industry were sharply restricted to certain branches.
In the report on the conditions of woman and child wage earners
in the United States made in 1911 on the basis of an investigation
completion in 1908, occurs this statement: 22
Glass in some of its forms was produced in that year (1905) in 399 establishments, distributed in 21 States, and • • • in the latter part of 1907
and in the first half of 1908, these numbers had been somewhat increased.
In not all of these establishments, however, were women and children employed.
Tbe making of window glass, for instance, offers no employment to women
and ver y little to children, and in a general way this is true of all varieties
of so-called building glass • * •. While it is true that in the manufacture
of plate glass women were formerly used in large numbers as polishers, they
have since been almost entirely superseded by machinery.

In another section, the same report says: 23
The finishing and leer rooms employ practically all of the women and girls
in tbe [glass] industry • • • .

Such was the occupational status of women in the American glass
industry at that time. In the great divisions of building glass,
which includes plate, window, and other structural glass, and in
other branches of glass manufacture, there were few women. In
1921, however, the representative of one of the greatest glassmakers
in America told the Committee on Ways and Means of, the United
States House of Representatives that his firm employed between
S,000 and 10,000 men and possibly 1,000 women aside from the clerical forces. This proportion about bears out the figures of the 1919
Census of Manufactures, which shows that women constituted approximately 12 per cent of the labor force in the glass- industry. 24
Underlying the half century of relatively inconspicuous advancement in the employment opportunities of women in the American
DU, S. Department of Commerce and Labor. Repor t on condition of woman and child
wage earners in the United States. v. 3: Glass industry. Washington, Gov t. Print.
Off., 1911. p. 15.
23 Ibid., p . 281.
24 U. S. Bureau ot the Census. oen.sus: 1920. v. 10, Manufactures, 19'19.
p. 831,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



glass industry, as compared with the marked increases of the past
10 years, is a combination of forces involved in the manufacture of
glass. Dominant among these were, first, the perseverance of old
methods of glassmaking, practically until the close of the nineteenth
century, followed by certain fundamental changes in processes and
by the creation of new products, both of which situations grew out
of inventions and researches started or stimulated by the war; second, the shortage of male labor due to the war occurred in the same
period in which these fundamental changes in processes and. the
creation of new products took place. Until the close of the nineteenth century the methods of making glass involved chiefly a high
degree of craftsmanship, arduous labor, and usually uncomfortable
working conditions. The occupations which women performed were,
therefore, rather sharply restricted t o the finishing, polishing, decorating, inspecting, covering, and miscellaneous auxiliary labor, usually performed in rooms remote from the primary and rougher
manufacturing processes. 25
While no fundamental changes in the, methods of making glass occurred until the early decades of the twentieth century, the substitution of gas for coal as a heating agency in the nineteenth century
made better glass possible, and the discovery of natural gas in 1880
made glass cheaper. The two developments together made the use of
glass more popular, the consequent growth of the industry resulting
in the increase in the number of women employed during the last
decade of the nineteenth century. In 1896 the automatic machine for
making wide-necked bottles and in 1903 the machine for making all sort of bottles were invented, but the increased numbers
of women following these changes were due to the growth of the
industry and the consequent larger number of women required in
the usual occupations rather than to the advancement of women into
new glassmaking occupations. As a matter of fact, the advancement of worµen's employment into new occupations in the glass industry was not ·marked until after the outbreak of the World War,
when the American scientists and industrial leaders had to find
methods and materials for making the optical and instrument glass
which is indispensable in peace or war. Practically all of this glass
had been imported before 1914. To meet this emergency many
private and public agencies focused their research facilities upon the
subject. The United States Geological Survey sought and found
among our own natural resources the necessary raw materials. The
Navy Consulting Board, the National Research Council, the United
23 U. S. Department of Commerce and La.bor.
Report on condition of woman a.nd child
wage earners in the United States. v. 3: Glass industry. Washington, Govt. Print. Off.,
1911. p. 297-333.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



States Bureau of Standards, the Carnegie Institution, and other
kindred bodies with varying degrees of cooperation from commercial
firms directed a battery of experimentations upon the problem of
optical and instrumeht glass manufacture. In 1918 the Nation was
not only making all its own optical and scientific glass but was
sending supplies abroad. During the past five or six years the new
American industry has had to share its markets with foreign competitors, but it is still here and growing in spite of some recent setbacks. The service manager of a large and important manufacturer
of optical and instrument glass stated during February, 1925:
In the plant works we largely use women in the inspection department and
in radio and optical work. We have found that the girls are better fitted for
this service than men, as their movements are quicker, especially in the cutting
of glass. A woman will cut in a day twice as much as a man and on the inspection of it, her work is far superior.

War years witnessed another important advancement in the glass
industry of this country. For years Irving W. Colburn had attempted to make a machine that would produce commercial flatdrawn sheet glass. Not until 1916, however, was the invention perfected and not until October, 1917, after Mr. Colburn's death, was
· drawn glass made on a commercial basis. This process is practically automatic and eliminates the larger part of the strenuous work
formerly involved in manufacture of flat glass. Consequently, its
adoption meant a lessening of the number of skilled men required in
flat-gl ass factories per unit of production and a slight increase in
numbers of women employed.
These two changes in glass manufacture, the production of optical
and scientific glass and the introduction of automatic machinery,
together with increased production of pressed and blown glassware
in this country, have been accountable for the conspicuous advances
of women into glassmaking occupations.
Although the manufacture of red earthenware on a commercial
scale began in Ohio in 1839, the making of table china is but 50
years old in this country. China making is one of the oldest industries in the world and one in which hundreds of thousands of
European and oriental women have always worked for bread, but
in this country it is a young industry. From its inception women
have been employed to finish the white ware and to decorate it. In
1919 about 7,700 women and girls were employed in the manufacture
of tableware and other kinds of pottery. 2 6 Until the World War
cut off our supply of white clays from England and finished chinaware from European china-manufacturing centers, howev:er, we did

U . S. Bureau ot the Census.

p. 452.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fourteenth cen su s : 1920.

v. 8, Manufactures, 19·1 9.



not discover ways and means for using the kaolin of good chinamaking quality that exists in our South Atlant ic States, nor did
we manufacture the finer grades of household china. The impetus
given to research for materials and methods of making these grades
by our lack of foreign supply for a few years has resulted in a
steady, if slow, growth of the household-ware industry both in quality of product and in quantity of production. The general secretary of the American Ceramic Society, writing under date of March
31, 1925, says:
Manufacture of household china has secured a firm foothold in this country.
I do not know how many companies there are engaged in the manufacture of
household china, but the numbers are slowly increasing ana the individual
factories are growing in size.

Naturally the manufacture of finer grades of china calls not only
for a higher grade of skill-for porcelain manufacture is still very
much of an ark-but also for more people in the finishing and decorating departments than does the ordinary household ware. As
these are the fields of service which have been open to women in
the past, the expansion of the industry affords much opportunity
for women in positions requiring skill and artistic ability ..
To quote again from the letter of the general secretary of the
American Ceramic Society :
Women are employed in the finishing of the wares. They trim and polish the
new fired ware prior to its being biscuited in the first fire. Women then sort
the biscuit ware and clean it ready for glazing. If there is to be any underglaze decorations, women are employed almost exclusively in this. After the
glazed ware is drawn from the glaze kiln it is again sorted by women, and if
overglaze decorated it is decorated by them.

Although some of these tasks require no training, the decorating
of china offers excellent opportunity for women's services if they
can acquire the training necessary for the performance of this
The increased use of tiles for floor and wall covering has also
increased the opportunity for women's employment. Here they are
used to trim, sort, and classify tiles, and sometimes to glaze them.
The beginning of a chemical porcelain manufacturing industry in
this country within late years has resulted in the use of women as
trimmers, finishers, and decorators of this ware.
The discovery of ways and means of using our South Atlantic
kaolin and ball-clay deposits for china, ·pottery, and tile manufacture may have a far-reaching effect upon women's services.
Recourse to the deposits of excellent material available in Georgia,
North Carolina, and South Carolina, together with the growing
market for ceramic products in the South, is resulting in the establishment of ceramic industries in this section of the country.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Whether the finer pottery wares, the making of which requires
numerous women, will be manufacture~ here in any quantity is
ye~ to be determined. Attention should be focused upon this southern development, so that trained southern women may be available, should the porcelain and chinaware or art pottery grow m
this section, abundant in raw materials and power for such development.

New raw materials and new processes in an old industry.
Until 1853 all paper was made of rags. In the early mills women
cut rags by hand on a scythe fixed in a post, or a long knife. 27 In
addition they sorted the rags for color and quality; and when the
rags had been beaten to pulp and the pulp made into sheets by men,
the women inspected these sheets.
Even when machinery cut the rags and beat the paper, the sorting and inspecting continued to give employment to many women.
A description of a room in the first American mill to make paper
by machinery, the Gilpin mill on the Brandywine, reads: 28
• • • a large salle on the lower floor, where more than 30 women ~were
seated on high stools at a long table placed before the windows, each one
having a knife to pick the motes from every sheet; and they were dressed
becoming their occupation, with a clean apron as smooth as if an iron had
just been run over it.

As a consequence, even as late as 1850, when complete papermaking machines were in use, women and girls formed 43.5 per
cent of the number of employees in paper mills, the total force being
6,785. 29
The demand for paper, however, far exceeded the supply of rags.
For many years the search for materials has been continuous. In
1853, paper made from straw was exhibited by Marie A. C. Millier
and Jean T. Coupier, and some paper was made by this process. It
was not until 1867, however, when caustic soda was applied to broadleaf woods and the treatment of long-leaf coniferous woods by the
sulphite process proved successful, that mak:i,ng paper of rags
ceased to be the important method of manufacture. As soon as
wood-pulp processes 30 of making paper were perfected, wood pulp
was used to a much larger extent than rag paper, until 90 per cent
of paper stock is now made of wood. But there was no place for
women in the cutting of logs into chips or converting the chips into
pulp, and only on high grades of wood-pulp paper were women
2:1 Crane, E. B.
Early paper mills in Massachusetts. In, Collections or Worcester
8ociety of Antiquity, v. 7, p. 121.
211 Montgomery, Elizabeth.
Reminiscences of Wilmington In village tales.
Ancient and new. p. 40.
211 See appendix Table III.
30 In 1920 there were four processes of treating wood pulp: Sulphite.,

soda, and sulphate.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



needed to examine, sort, and count the sheets. Factories making
paper of rags still employ women not only in sorting and in the
initial cutting of rags but in tending machines which cut the product
into sheets. Women also are employed on some of the finishing
work-inspecting, sorting, and count ing still being done by women.
In spite of the great increase in numbers of men as a result of the
use of a new raw material for paper machines the actual numbers
of women have increased with the growth of the industry though
the percentage which women form of the total force has decreased
from 43.5 in 1850 to 8.9 in 1919.31
Changes in raw materials are not yet at an end for the supply
of rags is still too small to meet the demands for the making of
paper money and the finer grades of paper. The search for a raw
material which will take the place of rags and yet make the same
quality of paper has been conducted for some years and is still
being carried on. Nor has the last word been said about paper made
from wood pulp, simply because the long-leaf conifers, most valuable
for newspapers, are fast disappearing. New methods of using other
kinds of wood pulp or some other material for the cheaper papers
have been and are being discovered.
Whether the next discovery will call for women in equal numbers
with men, or whether their services will not be needed, no one will
know until the engineers make practical the scientists' laboratory

A new material to meet an old need.
All attempts to use rubber proved unsuccessful until Goodyear
discovered that sulphur and lead compounds mixed with rubber and
heated to a given temp~rature made a product which did not get
sticky in hot weather nor harden in cold weather. The immediate
effect of this invention was the production of rubber boots and shoes,
rubber and elastic f abric, rubber hose and belting, and molded goods.
By 1857 the production of such rubber sundries as water bottles,
bulbs, and handballs was begun. After 1880 rubber was put to
many other uses, but the greatest development of the indust ry followed the production of pneumatic tires for automobiles. .Although
the mixing formulas for different products are numerous, fundamentally the Goodyear discovery is still the basic method of treating
In . the first factories making rubber boots and shoes and rubber
garments a large proportion of women were employed. These
women not only cemented the parts together and got them ready
for shipment, but they also did the cutting of the vulcanized ma.11

See appendix Table IIL
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



terial. Men prepared the mixture and coated the fabric upon which
the mixture was spread. In the factories making druggists' sundries many women were employed to make such sundries by hand.
A s the cutting of vulcanized materials became a machine process,
and after the making of druggists' sundries changed from the hand
to a hot press operation, women ceased to be employed in these
capacities. In the manufacture of hard-rubber goods man became
the dominant factor. So, too, in tire and inner tube production,
which represented more than half the value of goods made of rubber
in 1923, while women found some employment, most of the work
was done by men.
However, although · the changes in principal rubber products
opened more employment opportunities to men than to women, still
women made substantial gai s in the rubber industry. In 1919 there
were more than 30,000 women employed as compared with 1,558 in
1850. 32
As is well known, the rubber industry is depending for raw materials now, as heretofore, upon importations of natural rubber, for
although the United States uses three-fourths of the world's rubber
output, it grows none of it: 3 3 but a new development in the form 0£
a synthetic rubber-made entirely out of domestic materials-has
been standing on the threshold of America's rubber industry for a
number of years. In the judgment of scientists 34 and industrial
leaders, 35 its entrance as a commercial factor is a question of but a
short time, for as a laboratory achievement the manufacture of artificial rubber is no longer new. Two automobile tires of synthetic
rubber, also a piece of rubber made of potatoes, were exhibited in
New York in 1912.
That these changes will affect women in the rubber industry is
almost inevitable. Even tho gh such changes result in no shift of
occupations from men to women or women to men, or from both to
machines, the development of a purely domestic source of raw material will at least remove the industry's basic essentials of manufacture from the uncertainties of foreign control.
a See appendix: Table IV.

Slosson, Edwin E . Creative Chemistry. New York, Century Co., 1921. p, 156.
Slosson, Edwin E., op. cit., p. 163.
86 The financial editor of the New York Commercial in a series of articles runn.ln g in
May of 1925, says : " Within the last year or so, in fact, the chemist has learned to
make artificial sil'k, artificial rubber, artificial leather, and in addition has actually
created any number of things that never existed before at all. Some of these products
have not been perfected and, at the present stage of thair development, a few compare
PQOrly with the natural products which ultimately they may supplant, but the perfecting
of synthetic leather, rubber, and other products is only a matter of time; perhaps a
very short time." (Farrell, Hugh. State of the investor in the developmant of chemistry. New York Commercial, May, 1925. )
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



New products from old materials.
Snuff, chewing and smoking tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes are
products of different periods. In the eighteenth century the tobacco
consumed in the United States was almost all in the form of snuff
and chewing and smoking tobacco products, for which the Virginia
tobacco crop was well adapted. In the early years of the nineteenth
century, Connecticut tobacco was worked into cigars by women in
tobacco growers' families. Later Spanish tobacco was made up into
cigars in the Territory of Louisiana by Cuban cigar makers. And
still later, when a variety of tobacco suitable for cigar wrappings
was grown in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and
Wisconsin, every town near the tobacco fields had its local cigar
factory. The cigarette was unknown in this country until the
latter part ot the nineteenth century. It was introduced throughout
Europe by the soldiers fighting in the Crimean War, and later the
demand for cigarettes spread to this country.
In the chewing, smoking, and snuff branches of the industry in the
United States in 1850 about 14 per cent of the employees were
women. 86 There has been a steadily increasing proportion of women
until in 1919 they constituted almost one-half the number of persons
employed. 87 This increase is due to the fact that, while the operations of cutting and grinding once done by men's hands are now done
by machine, the hand operations which women performed-that is,
sorting for quality and size and stripping-are still largely hand
processes. The custom of putting smoking tobacco into bags and
pasting on labels also has given increased employment to women in
this branch of the industry.
The census of 1860, the first to list cigars, shows that only 9 per
cent of the cigar makers were women. 38 Cigar manufacturing was
a hand industry, carried on in small shops, until 1869, when a cigarshaping mold was introduced from Germany. In 1878 machinery
was invented to aid in stripping, bunching, and rolling cigars.
These machines were introduced very gradually, women being employed to operate them until women were employed in every process
except mixing the tobacco for correct flavor, pressing it, and making
cigar boxes. As a result of the use of machinery and of an available
supply of skilled women in the days when the manufacture was
being shifted from the small shop to the-factory, th~re were reported,
in 1919, 79,569 women and girls employed in manufacturing cigars,
these forming almost 60 per cent of the cigar-factory workers. 39
See -appendix Table V.
Ill Ibid.


19 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
ll• 490.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fourteenth census: 1920.

v. 8, Manufactures, 1919.



Alm.est as soon as cigarette manufacture began, machines were
invented to cut, dry, and shred the tobacco. Later a machine for
rolling the cigarettes was invented. As a result the industry started
on a factory basis and continued on that scale with the rapidly
increasing demand for cigarettes. From the beginning the industry
has been a larger employer of women than of men. In 1919 there
were 13,932 women and girls employed, constituting more than 55
per cent of the force. 40
As a result, therefore, of the increased use of the cigarette and the
introduction of machinery in the chewing, smoking, and snuff branch
as well as in the cigar branch of this industry, in 1919 there were
104,328 women and girls employed in tobacco manufacture.'1 They
constituted more than 58 per cent of the tobacco industry employees.

New methods of producing familiar products.
The art of hermetically sealing packages was not introduced into
this country until 1825. Even then all attempts to can food products by cooking in a common- iron kettle over a cordwood fire proved
but indifferently successful. In 1860 it was discovered that calcium
chloride when added to boiling water would increase the temperature
many degrees, thus making it possible to overcome the lack of sufficient heat which had made the cooking-kettle process unsuccessful.
As the Government, faced by Civil War emergencies, was ready to
use any canned goods available at this time, canneries quickly sprang
up. By 1870 there were 6,713 adults employed in canning occupations.42 Of these employees 61.2 per cent were women. At this
time cans were made by hand by tinkers in the canning factory.
The women prepared fruits and vegetables by hand and filled the
cans with these and with sirups. Then men cappers soldered the
top on each can with a tinner's copper. Other men for the processing lowered the pans of cans into boiling water. In 1874 the combination closed _k ettle for cooking with superheated water or live
steam was invented. Next came a filling machine. In 1885 the first
automatic can-making equipment was operated. As this was perfected, can making ceased to be done as a regular part of cannery
work, can-making factories becoming independent establishments
where the automatic machinery was tended by women and children.
In 1887 a capping machine was invented, and as this gained a
foothold the skilled man who had done the handcapping disappeared from the trade. A girl tended the capping machine. Then
in 1903 came the sanitary can. Since that time machines have been
'° Idem.

U. S. Bureau of the C'e.ruma.

p. 488-490.
a See appendix, Table VI,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fourteenth census: 1920.

v. 8, Manufactures, 1919.



invented to vine and shell peas, to husk, cut, and silk corn, and to
grade :fruit and vegetables as to size. The conveyor belt systems
which carry materials from one section of the cannery to another
have come ,i nto use. With every introduction of a machine which prepares fruit or vegetables or sorts and grades them, the number of
women employed per canning unit is lessened, but the growth of
the industry has been such that the actual numbers of women employed continue to increase. In 1919 there were 107,807 women employed in canning and preserving fruits and vegetables, preserves
and sauces, fish and oysters, or of a total number of 198,337 adults
employed, women constituted 54.4 per cent. u

System of interchangeable parts.
In 1848 machines were perfected whereby watch movements were
made. The first sytematic manufacture of such parts at Roxbury,
Mass., in 1851, marked _the beginning of the system of interchangeable parts which now underlies our entire machine-building industry
and which in turn is the foundation of thousands upon thousands
of occupations for women.
Men had been the hand watchmakers. Men were employed in
the early watch factories to make the new watchmaking machines,
but women were employed to operate these machines and to assemble
watch parts. In 1870 there were 592 women and 1,202 men employed. 44 By 1880 women workers had increased approximately
106 per cent, whereas men had increased but 77 per cent. 45 In 19H)
the manufacture of watch movements and watches employed approximately 8,000 women. 46
Wherever machines and equipment are made up of numerous
small parts, there many women will be found making these small
parts. Had the system of 11-niform parts for uniform machines not
been developed in the nineteenth century, there would not have
been found in 1919 more than 16,000 women working in machine
shops, more than 8,000 making hardware parts, and more than 8,000
making typewriters, calculating machines, or sewing machines. 47
Wider application of known forces as a result of research.
More than a century went by, after Benjamin Franklin's discoveries in electricity (in 1752) and Volta solved the problem of generating a steady flow of current ( in 1779), before the production an.d
use of electric current were made practicable by the invention and
" See appendix Table VI.
"U. S. Bureau of the Census. Ninth census: 1870. Compendium. p. 810.
4li U. B. Bureau of the Census.
Tenth census: 1880. Compendium, rev. ed., pt. 2,
p. 942.
"U. S. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth census: 1920. v. 8, Manufactures, 1919.
p. 500.
"' Ibid., p. 378.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



commercial development of the dynamo and motor. In fact, the
telegraph was the only fundamental invention in the electrical world
which came into practical use before the advent of these machines.
But with the improved manufacture ·of these generating agencies
the application of electricity for power, heat, light, and sound transference has increased by leaps and bounds. Each invention or discovery was followed by research to make manufacture practical,
and sueh research continues, always with the one aim of producing
better parts at less cost to make electrical energy of greater use to
By the time the dynamo and motor were being manufactured
commercially, the incandescent electric lamp had been invented by
Thomas A. Edison and the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell. ·
Then followed the quickened adoption of the electric motor for
railways and for power transmission in factories, the application of
electricity to numerous household and ind{istrial devices, and lastly
the development of wireless telegraphy and the radio.
Throughout the years of continued research and the practical introduction of many inventions, women have~layed an ever-increasing part in the manufacture of electrical apparatus and supplies.
Beginning in 1880 with but 72 women, when the total number of
adults employed was only 1,204, the number of women increased
1,940 per cent in 10 years, as compared with an increase of 544 per
cent in .the -immber of men. 48 This greater increase in the force of
women was due in large part to the manufacture of incandescent
lamps. In the next 10 years, when the railway was the new objective of the application of electricity but when all uses to which it
had already been put were being perfected, the number of men
increased at a faster rate than did the number of women. From
that time on, however, the increase in £he employment of women
in the manufacture of electrical apparatus has always outdistanced
that of men. The latest census figures are for 1919, when 62,920
women and 695 girls were employed, 49 forming nearly 26 per cent
of all employees. Since 1919 the number of women has increased,
as this census was taken before the phenomenal manufacture 9f
radio parts had begun.
The extensive employment of women in the manufacture of electrical machinery and supplies has been the indirect result of much
discovery and research. Among the outstanding inveRtions which
have increased the opportunities of women, none have had greater
effect than those concerned with the utilization of electricity for light.

See appendix, Table VII.

,. U. S. Bureau of the Census.
p. 364.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fourteenth census: 1920.

v. 8, Manufactures, 1919.



In 1879 Edison invented the incandescent lamp and two years later
35,000 lamps had been produced by skilled glass blowers and by other
specially trained hand workers. This lamp was far from perfect,
and the cost of production was such as to render its use prohibitive
to the average home. Only after exhaustive research by many otliter
scientists during many years the gas-filled tungsten lamp of to-day
was perfected and methods of manufacturing were developed that
made a production of 245,000~000 incandescent lamps possible in
1921. Under the methods of large-scale manufacture women were
called into the indp.stry in such numbers that to-day they form a
major part of lamp-factory employees. The winding and mounting
of the fine filaments, stem making, tubulating the bulb, assembling
the parts, exhausting and testing the lamps, cementing on the base~
all are done by women. The electric-light socket alone, from the
molding of the porcelain base to its final assembly, requires 237
different operations in one large factory, and almost all of these are
performed by women. In addition, fuse plugs, lever switches, and
push buttons are made by women. The parts entering into electriclight bulbs and lighting equipment are so minute that great delicacy
of touch is essential for rapid handling. Consequently, women are
as dominant to-day in lighting equipment manufacture as they were
in the candle-light centuries.
The discovery of the X ray, that penetrates bodies opaque to light,
and the invention of the three-element vacuum tube, making wireless
telephoning commercially possible, increased the field for women's
service in manufacture in proportion to the use made of these inventions. One factory alone employs approximately 600 girls on
vacuum tubes for radio sets. The work which women are called
upon to do in this production does not vary in general character
from that involved in making incandescent lamps. The glass stem
and tube are shaped, the filament plate and grad are mounted
therein, and the glass blank sealed, and the tube is tested for leaks
and for short circuits. Men are called upon only to operate the
exhausting machine and do the final testing.
Girls also make many of the individual units which go into radio
sets and do much of the assembling, wiring up, and testing. They
make the head sets in their entirety. This work is similar in kind
to much that they have been doing in the manufacture of telephone
apparatus, but the demand for radio sets has greatly insreased the
number of women who are employed in the electrical industry.
In perfecting methods of manufacture of machines and parts for
the utilization of electric power, the muscular strain involved in hand
and machioo work on smaller electrical apparatus has been red.need
to a point where women can perform the work as well as, if not
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



better than, men. As a consequence, many women have been employed in the generator, transformer, and motor departments.
Winding field coils and transformer coils, winding motors, assembling armatures, insulating and taping coils, and performing many
other tasks by machine and hand on the · numbers of small parts
which go into the making of electric power producing and utilizing
apparatus are now regular occupations of women. While some of
this work calls for but little skill, much requires ability to understand and carefully to follow written specifications.
The application of electricity to household devices and other
small miscellaneous mechanisms has extended materially the field of
electrical supply manufacture in which women can be used suc~fully.
The increased use of electricity as power, as heat, as light, and as
a conveyor of sound has necessarily increased the women employed
in departments preparing materials or parts entering into electrical
distribut~g and measuring equipment. For example, the mica
department, where mica for insulation purposes is prepared in the
numerous forms and sizes required in electrical equipment, is composed almost entirely of women. In other departments, parts made
of plastic compounds, rubber, or porcelain are molded by women.
Wire is wrapped and braided with insulating material by women.
So tiny are the parts entering into electrical instruments that these
parts are formed and the instruments assembled very largely by
women's hands.
The application of electricity has been so rapid and so astounding
that no one can prophesy what future services it will render. Meanwhile the methods of making products now on the markets are being
improved, and even the materjals out of which products are bein
made are changing. The chemist is working to invent better materials for insulating or conducting purposes while the physicist is
hoping to find better methods of securing the rare gases used in
lamps and bulbs, and the engineer is solving numerous mechanical
problems. What effect each discovery will have on the occupation~
now performed by women no one can say until the resulting manufacturing methods are developed. In an industry in which scientists
are given full opportunity to conduct investigations and in which
capital is quick to make practical application of laboratory discoveries, changes are bound to come that will be of immedj ate concern
to wage-earning women in the future as in the past.

New methods of communication.
Not until 1876 did the telephone really become an instrument of
commerce. The first census report in the United States that marks
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



telephony as a separate occupation was in 1880. 150 In that year
147 women and 1,050 men were reported as employed in all the departments of the business. In 1919 the number of women telephone
operators was 178,379, ac.c ording to the census of occupations. 51 The
increase in the number of women h as been accompanied by changes
due to inventions which decreased materially the number of operators required per 100 subscribers, the marked increase in actual
numbers of women being due to the improved service wrought by
the changes and the consequent growth of the telephone as a factor
in the world of b siness and of spcial intercourse. Taking only the
20 years ending with 1922 as an illustration, we find that the number of telephones per 1,000 persons in the Unit ed States increased
in that time from 30 to 130, or 333 per cent. 5 2 During the same
period the wire ileage increased from approximately 4,850,000 to
about 35,503,000, or over 630 per cent.53 The difference in rate of
increase between the number of telephones per 1,000 persons and the
wire mileage reflects the extension of the telephone into less populous
The conspicuous changes in telephone equipment underlying the
expansion of the business are not many. .A.bout the close of the last
century the magneto switchboard, which made it necessary for the
subscriber to "ring central" by twirling a small crank, began to
give way to the common battery switchboard whereby "central" is
called automatically when the subscriber· takes down the receiver.
This invention, which registered itself in the public mind only as a
great improvement in service, had a very marked effect upon both
the conditions of labor and the employment opportunities of women.
"9nder the magnew switchboard system central's response required
hand labor from the telephone operator as well as from the subscriber, since the latter by cranking the telephone t o call central,
knocked down a small metal bar or "shuttle" which the operator
had to replace by hand. The development of the common battery
switch relieved both the subscriber and the telephone operator of
this hand labor. It also reduced the time required to make a "connection," for the signal lights come on automatically when the subscriber takes the receiver off the hook and are so extinguished when
the connection is made. When the receiver is replaced, the lights
come on again to notify the operator that the conversation is at an
50 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Tenth census: 1880. Statistics of the population of
the United States. p. ,..,.46.
l>1 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Fourtenth census: 1920. v. 4, Occupations, p. 40.
8 U. S. Bureau o! the CensUB.
Census of electrical industries: 192:2. Telephones.
p. 28.


Ibid., p. 9.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



end. Discussing the effect of this change a Government report issued
in 1910 says : 5 '
The time saved by the common battery switchboard is considerable when a
la.rge number of calls has to be registered, as the time for a call on the magneto
board required 10 seconds for a first or a single call, while 15 to 20 seconds
were necessary for a recall or the securing of a second number immediately
upon the close of conversation with a former one. With the common battery
system both call and recall can be made on an average of five seconds.

By the end of the first decade of this century the old magneto
type was holding less than 25 per cent of the telephone field. 55 During the decade ended 1910, the number of women telephone operators
increased 475 per cent and during the next 10 years the number
more than doubled, the women constituting approximately 94 per
cent of the total number of operators. 56
The effort to substitute automatic devices for personal service did
not cease nor · relax with the installation of the common battery
switchboard; the next conspicuous change is taking place now in
the gradual substitution of the automatic switching system whereby
the subscriber makes his own connection without the aid of a telephone operator. The New York Telephone Co. expects to complete
the substitution by 1940, or thereabouts, having already allocated
$65,000,000 to be spent by 1927 for installing the automatic system
a.s fast as the old mechanisms wear out, or other conditions warrant
replacement by the new system. 57 When these automatic systems
have entirely crowded out the present switchboards, telephone
operators will be required only · for long-distance calls and for information and complaint calls.
The estimated number of long-distance telephone calls in the
United States in 1922 was about 666,000,000. 58 This is an increase
of more than 95 per cent over the figure for 1912 and more than 450
per cent over the figure for 1902. Many inventions account for the
growth of long-distance telephony, but at least two conspicuous
achievements should be named in connection with the phenomenal
increase in the use of the telephone for long-distance communication. One is the invention of the Pupin loading coil, which greatly
advanced the possibilities of successful long-distance telephony.
Some years ago " When Chief Engineer Carty * * * stretched his
wires from the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific coast o:f the United
States, and * * * first made a human voice heard across a con1

u U. S. Bureau of Labor. Investiga.tion of telep,hone companies . . . Washington,
Govt. Print. O!I'., 1910. (61st Cong., 2d sess. Senate Doc. No. 880) p. 16.
55 Ibid., p. 16.
56 U. S. Bureau of the Censua.
Fourteenth census: 1920. v. 4, Occupations, p. 40.
l'1 Bell Quarterly, July, 1924, p. 138.
• U. S. Bureau ot the Census. Census of electrical industries: 1922. Telephones.
p. 24. ·
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



tinent, there were P upin coils at intervals of 8 miles in that transcontinental line. In the whole world to-day there are more than
three-quarters o:f a million. Pupin coils in use in telephone lines, of
which 600,000 are in the United State.s." 59 Another :factor in the
growth o:f long-dist ance communication is the use o:f telegraph wires
:for telephoning in the South and "\Vest. 60 As telegraphic messages
and the human voi e can travel along the wire at the same time the
available wire mileag~ :for long-distance use not only is actually increased but is capable o:f obvious expansion.
The installation o:f the automatic telephone is as yet too recent
to warrant any prediction as to its ultimate effect on the net number
o:f employment opportunities of women in the telephone field. The
phenomenal ,i ncrease in the number o:f long distance calls, stimulated by the availa.bility o:f telegraph wires and constant improvements :facilitating long distance communication, are unquestionably creating new opportunities, :for notwithstanding the ~ncreasing use o:f the automatic switching systems, which eliminate local
switchboard operators, the quinquennial report o:f the United
States Bureau o:f the Census on telephones shows for 1922 a 15.5
per cent increase ,i the number o:f women operators 61 as compared
with 1917.
The Morse electric telegraph wire, which made its first public
appearance in 18 - , claimed a place in the United States Census o:f
Occupations in 1870. At that time it reported 355 women employed not as oper ators but in the general service o:f the telegraph
compan,ies. In 1 20 there were 16,860 women employed as telegraph operators. 62 This increase, however, did not reflect the advance of women as Morse key operators. It marked, rather, the invention o:f devices which reduced the demands :for long training and
practice, though t e introduction o:f such devices was gradual, the
regular key operators holding their ground :fairly well in the :face
o:f the success,i ve inventions. As late as 1909 a Government report
on telegraphs said: 63
The actual receiving and tran~mitting of messages is carried on in two
ways. [Men who] are known as the Morse operators transmit messages by
the manipulation of a key which operates a sounder at the receiving end of
~ Engineering "Founda tion, New York. Popular research narrative • . . Compiled
by A. D. Flinn. Baltimore, Williams & Wilkins Co., 19>24. p. 81.
00 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Census of electrical industries: 1922.
p. 16.
61 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Census of electrical industries: 1922.
p. 52.
82 U. S. Bureau of the Census.
Fourtrenth census : 1920. v. 4, Occupations. p. 40.
83 U. S. Bureau of Labor .
Investigations of Western Union and Postal telegraph-cable
companies . . . Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1909. 554 p. (60th Cong., 2d sess.
Senate, Doc. No. 725.)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the line. The receiving operator, listening to the instrument reproduce the
Morse characters, writes the message out in letters of the ordinary alphabet.
The Morse operators require considerable training and ~kill before being able
to receive and transmit with rapidity and accuracy. For many years a machine has also been in use for receiving and transmitting messages. The
method of operation of the machine consists in first having the telegram
* * * transferred in Morse characters to a paper ribbon through which
the characters are punched. This ribbon is then placed in a machine which
automatically transmits the message to a machine at the other end of the
line, which writes the message on another ribbon again in Morse characters.
'l'he message is then copied into the ordinary letters on a blank * * *.
All that is necessary is a clerk-man or woman, boy or girl-familiar enough
with Morse characters to read a message in ordinary characters and punch
it on a paper ribbon at the sending end; and then by a simple reversal of
the process, the Morse characters are transferred into the ordinary characters at the receiving end. This (the Wheatstone machine) is still in use in
some offices but it has been supplanted by two more recent machines which
are being increasingly used in the large offices * * *.

One of the machines referred to is the Barclay machine.
The working unit for the Barclay machine consists of three persons, working
at two terminals in different cities-two at the sending end and one at the
receiving end * * * [the messages ] are handed to the tape perforato11,
the first girl in the Barclay team • * *. She sits in front of an instrument
constructed like a typewriter. A stiff narrow white ribbon feeds through the
instrument automatically. The operator presses do•w n the keys, and as she
does so dots and dashes are punched in the passing ribbon. When the message
is complete, the ribbon is cut and passed to the second girl in the team
* • * She sits before a machine into which she feeds the punched ribbons.
The machine is directly connected with the telegraph wire over which the
message passes. As the ribbon goes through the machine the perforated portions allow the electrical contact which transmits the message * * *
At the other end of the wire * • * the third girl of the team :finishes
the operation. She sits before a machine, the visible parts of which consist
of a horizontal cylinder and bar and a small type wheel on an upright rod.
Her work is to feed telegraph blanks between the bar and the cylinder or roller,
the blanks coming round on the face of the latter * * •. This wheel has
different motions which are so controlled as to make it print English characters corresponding to the electric impulses transmitted by the wire with which
it is connected, which impulses correspond to the dots and dashes in the perforated ribbon.

The operation of the Rowland machine requires a team of only
two girls, one at the sending and the other at the receiving end of
the line. The sender operates an instrument which looks like a typewriter. The keys, however, operate type at the receiving end of the
line through the medium of the telegraph wire. The receiver simply
collects the messages.
Telegraphy has never employed as many women as telephony,
probably because the use of long distance has grown so much faster
than the use of the telegram. Also, during the last 15 years the use
of wireless telegraphy and of the radio has grown enormously.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Wireless messages increased more than 1,830 per cent during the
five years ended 1922. 64
Radio telegraphy and telephony • • • particularly the latter, have
become established modes of communication for many commercial organizations in the conduct of their business. In regions where it would be difficult vr
impossible to construct and maintain wire lines, the problem is solved by the
use of radio. Among the industries thus benefited are fishing, mining, and
lumbering. 111

The radio is too youngto ~ave a place in the Census of Occupations
of 1920, and no subsequent census enumerat ions show the sex of persons employed. Regardless of census reports, however, the employment of large numbers of women in the manufacture of radio sets
is a fact of common knowledge and is_discussed elsewhere in this
report. Also, pending the publication of census reports, there may
be accepted the obvious effects of radio upon the enlarged opportunities of artists and educators-among whom are many thousands
of women-to market their abilities by the provision of home entertainment and instruction.

New commercial service.
A practical typewriter was perfected about 1868 and was introduced to the public in 1873 as the Remington typewriter. The
first machines wrote only with capital letters and met with an
antagonistic reception by the public. Their value was first recognized by court stenographers, then by lawyers, and later by business
men. Even so, typewriter operators were too few in 1880 to he
recognized as a separate occupation by the United States Census
Office. But by 1890 typewriting and stenography were established
as a distinct vocation and as one especially adapted to women, for
in that year there were 21,270 women stenographers and typists,
forming 63.7 per cent of the total number in the occupation. In
1920, 564,744 women and girls were classed as typists and stenographers. No other occupational groups except those of servant,
home farmer, farm laborer, and teacher included so large a number
of women. That women have monopolized this occupation is evidenced by the fact that they constitute 91.8 per cent of the total
number of stenographers and typists. 88
Not only, therefore, has the typewriter revolutionized modern
business methods, but it has created an occupation calling for more
women than have been employed as a result of any other invention.
111, U.
S. Bureau of the Census.
p. 26.
81 Ibid., p. 25.
• See appendix Table VIIL
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Census of electrical industries: 1922.




Inventions and discoveries less directly, yet fundamentally,
related to women's employment opportunities
In the foregoing pages, the discussion has been confined to the
results of such research or invention as has had a direct bearing
upon the employment opportunities of women because it was concerned with materials, processes, or products of manufacture or
with the equipment essential to the commercial services employing
women. The fact should not be overlooked, however, that the
influences on the employment opportunities of women do not begin
or end with such inventions or discoveries. Obviously when James
Watt invented the double-acting steam engine in 1782, laying the
basis of the wonderful developments in land and water transportation and in the mining operations of the next century, he sowed
the seeds of opportunities for breadwinning women that are growing and ripening to-day. Each perfection and expansion of the
steam engine mechanisms increased these opportunities. Fulton's
first practical steamboat running up the Hudson in 1807, the boat
that he sent in 1811 from Pittsburgh to New Orleans, and the first
steamer that crossed the Atlantic in 1819, each marks stages that
were second in importance only to the development of the first
practical locomotive which, in 1829, connected the agricultural
regions of the West with the manufacturing facilities of the East.
All these inventions together applied a powerful stimulus to the
demands for manufactured goods in the production of which thousands upon thousands of women were involved even a hundred years
Again, the far-reaching changes in blast-furnace methods made
in the first half of the nineteenth century did not appear to concern
women, since they were not employed in connection with blast-furnace operations, but these changes, together with the inventions and
discoveries that followed in quick succession during the latter half
of the past century, underlie the whole enormous expansion of
American manufactures, trade, and transportation, which together
employ several million ~omen to-day and hold unmeasured possibilities for to-morrow.
These are but random illustrations of the fact that the employment opportunities of American women are inseparable parts of the
great living industrial organism and that they respond to changing
conditions in any part of the body industrial. That these changes
are constantly taking place is apparent not only from the illustrative descriptions given in the foregoing pages but from current comments on such subjects in the daily press.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Discussing the revolutionary change recently effected in the woodalcohol industry by the unexpected development of a process which
renders all other processes obsolete, an expert writing entirely from
the point of view of the investor said : 67
Some of our greatest industries, the oil industry, for example, are subject
to hazards of revolutionary change just as great as that which confronts the
wood-alcohol industry * * *.
At the t imes when competition for markets is the keenest, the search for
cheapening processes is intensified and the industry which has taken the longest
look ahead is the jndustry that survives. At such times the manufacturer who
has failed to guard against the day of keener competition is forced to fall back
on cuts in wages and futile attempts to lower costs by raising the value of
Nothing valuable is ever accomplished in that way. As long as lower costs
are obtained through the elimination of waste of materials and labor-that is,
through improvements in processes, society in general and the investor in particular are benefited. For lowering costs after this manner means lowering
them by increasing production or, at least, by getting an equal volume at
lessened outlay.
67 Farrell, Hugh.
Stake of the investor in the development of chemistry.
Commercial, May, 192'».
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

New York



Even a cursory reading of the effects of research upon industrial
processes and upon commercial systems will lay bare certain concrete suggestions for advancing the employment opportunities of
American women. The first of these suggestions lies in the fact that
scientific research has yielded a very material net increase in the
number of occupations open to women and that it carries unmeasured possibilities for further increase. Moreover, changes in industry due to research frequently bring improvement in working conditions. Obviously, therefore, women wage earners have a concern
over and above that held by women as a whole in the steady progress
of research in America.
TherJ have been recent signal recognitions of the concern of all
women in the development of well thought out State and National
policies looking to the support of sound research in all branches of
knowledge. Discussing the impo:r;tance of organic chemical research
to national and home life, one pronouncement on the subject says: 68
The growth and fruitage of • * • research in America have been retarded
by the lack of public appreciation. This is an indictment of the intelligence of
American women as well as of American men. Manifestly it is through the
great women's organizations that women will do their most effective work in
remedying this grievous national fault • • *.
The numbers of women who have accustomed themselves to group study,
group expression, and group action now run into millions and the numbers are
steadily growing. The accumulated momentum of this tendency toward concerted action among growing millions of women creates a corresponding obligation for informed decisions and forethinking conduct. The nineteenth amendment has made this obligation doubly binding. For whether we worked for it
or not, whether we wanted it or ·not, American women have now acquired
direct responsibility with American men for raising and maintaining a national morale essential to our progress in peace and human weal. We can not
escape the consequences of responsibility by refusing to discharge it or by
ignoring its existence.

The stake of wage-earning women was specifically recognized in
this appeal in these words :
Manifestly the women who are concerned with enlarging the opportunities
of capable women for capable service have a direct interest in the promotion
of Ol."ganic chemical research • • •.
68 To American women-a plea.
p. 3. (Issued by officers of the General Federation
of Women's Clubs; National Civic Federation, Woman's Department; American Association of University Women; Girl Scouts; a.nd Daughters of the American Revolution.)

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



It is true that this quotation applies to orily one branch of knowledge, but it is also true that the progress of research in this particular branch is intimately related to the progress of research in all
other branches of physical sciences. 69
The continued advance of chemical research [says a r ecent publication from
a women's orga nization interested in this subject] is closely related to the
steady progress of research in all t he physical sciences. This bulletin, therefore [referring to the organization's publication], is a nother link in the chain
of efforts begun in 1921, though in it we are stressing the big, broad fact,
stated by President Angell, of Yale, that all sound scientific research "is of
the very life blood of human progress " and that " the maintenance of appropriate and fruitful conditions of its growth is a matter of absolutely fundamental significance for humanity."

The collection of facts in these pages makes it plain that research
leading to invention and research in physics, biology, and other fields
of material facts are making a direct net contribution to the employment opportunities for . .i\..merican women. The Federal Government
h as a number of research agencies and many research divisions in
bureaus regarded as principally administrative. Many of these
agencies are engaged in investigations that have a direct bearing
upon the employment opportunities of both men and women, as well
as upon the conditions of labor Burrounding existing occupations.
Many States are maintaining research bureaus. In the newer States
the principal objective of these bureaus is the development of the
dormant natural resources or the better utilization of the resources
already under draft for service. In the older States such research
activities include efforts to stimulate the elimination of waste by its
conversion into usable by-products. In brief, therefore, wage-earning women, as well as wage-earning men, have an additional interest
in State and National policies affecting scientific research and its
application to industrial processes.
The second suggestion that comes to mind is afforded by the
fact that the development of transportation facilities and the methods of long-distance transmission of power have permitted industries to range in increasing distances from markets and raw materials in search of suitable labor supplies. The activities in chambers of commerce and other commercial bodies to secure the location
of industries in given communities are quite generally conducted
without cooperation or consultation with women's organizations of
the communities. As a consequence, there is usually little consideration given to framing the p olicies of securing new industries in such
a way as to provide suitable employment for the daughters as well
as the sons in the community; a measure that would guard against
a too early disintegration of ~10me life caused by the daughters'

National Civic Federation.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Women's Department.

Bulletin, November, 1924.



going out of the home and out of the community in search of needed
employment opportunities. In brief, the women's organizations of
a community have a direct concern in taking part in these campaigns
by making surveys to determine what the available woman labor is
and whether or not the industries sought for the communities include
such as will keep the daughters, as well as the sons, at home. Of
course industries can not locate with exclusive reference to labor
supplies. Site, freight rates, and transportation facilities will exact
due consideration in all cases.
The third concrete suggestion may not be so obvious from the
assembly of facts, but its validity is easily established. The vocational training schopls and the vocational courses in all educational
institutions should be so adjusted as to take into consideration the
tremendous changes now going on in industry as a result of scientific
research. Especially should the courses take into consideration the
adaptability of women for the new occupations developing from
such· research.
In 1920 this bureau issued a bulletin on vocational training
facilities for women, in which were discussed the training courses
given in specified States for a range of American industries in
which women had made marked success during the war. The
summarizing paragraphs in that bulletin asserted that very few of
the training facilities then in evidence were being used by women,
either because women were" not admitted to these public vocational
schools" or because they were" not encouraged to attend." The final
summarizing paragraph declared that "the increase in the numbers
of wage-earning women, the demonstrated capabilities of women
during the war, the decrease in male immigrant labor, and the
growing demands of our expanding industries call not only for the
admission 0£ women [into a wider range 0£ training courses] but for
the same policy among vocational educators of encouraging girls
as is now adopted to encourage boys to take such instruction." 70
In view of the far-reaching effects which scientific research is
having upon industrial processes and commercial systems, the
Women's Bureau urges such a further liberalization of the policies
of vocational training for. women as will familiarize them with new
materials and new processes and facilitate their entrance into the
new occupations as fast as these occupations become sufficiently
established and standardized to be made the subject of training
Finally, the facts discussed in these pages suggest further emphasis on the efforts to expand the opportunities and extend the

"° U. S. Department ot Labor. Women's Bureau. Industrial opportunities and trainIng for women and girls. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1921. (Bulletin 13.) p. 48.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



facilities of research for women. Unquestionably there is a growing appreciation of the obligations of laboratories in educational
and other publicly supported institutions to open up opportunities
to the world of affairs. The business world- whether it be in the
field of manufacture or in the methods of account ing or distributing
the products for manufacture-is no longer indifferent or casual
about scientific resear ch. On the contr ary, it is inspiring and
stimulating research in educational institutions by submitting specific problems in process or materials, or both, to the laboratories
of universities and colleges, in many of which both men and women
are at work. Business concerns are endowing chairs of research
and offering fellowships. Furthermore, they are drafting the researchers-undergraduates, graduates, or teachers of science-from
the college and university laboratories:
When women graduate or undergraduate students succeed in finding solutions for the difficulties submitted for study, they make a
real advancement toward the responsible and profitable positions in
industry, since a firm seriously vexed with a manufacturing difficulty is not likely to refuse to employ the successful researcher because such a worker happens to be a woman. In other words, the
laboratories in universit ies and colleges are training stations from
which the door to responsible positions has a tendency to stand as
wide open to women as to men. Conspicuous achievements in invention and discovery, important to industry and commerce, are
on record to the credit of women, though the r ecord often does not
show to what research facilities the women had access. 71 In any
case, however, if the door of opportunity which leads from the research laboratories of universities and colleges to responsible and
desirable positions in industry and commerce is to be accessible to
women, the laboratories must be open to women in fact as well as
in theory. The intangible and invisible but effective bar of custom
is still up in m any of the institutions having excellent research
facilities. Women are barred not by regulations but by the tenacity
of the tacit assumption that creative research facilities and training
"are designed for men." The phrasing of announcements of competitive examinations for resear ch scholarship and fellow ship and
the official descriptions of scope and pur pose of research instruction
reflect the extent to which the invisible bar is still up even in the
laboratories of many of the colleges and universities having large
numbers of women in the academic departments. 1Vithout doubt
the bar is breaking in ma.ny places under the pressure of the general
n U. S. Department of Labor.

Women's Bureau.

Wom en' s cont ributions in the field

of invention : A study of the r ecords of the Unit ed States Patent Office.
Govt. Print. Off., 1923. 51 p. (Bulletin 28.)
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



advance of women, but it is still a real obstruction not only to the
women with creative research ability but to thousands of others.
For every woman who achieves success in the field of creative research does more than win for herself the opportunity for service
in her chosen field. She cuts deep into the tradition that obstructs
the opportunities of other women, who are capable of such technical
service as is now rendered by thousands of men with and without
college training. While industry and commerce have for many years
employed women in routine processes, very grudgingly have women
been permitted--except in times of national emergency-to share the
responsible or technical positions afforded by the Nation's business.
The women engaged successfully upon creative research will aid
materially in giving to women of all degrees of capability and training an equal chance with men in the ever-increasing opportunities
for profitable employment in the rapidly expanding fields of industry and commerce.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

1. Figures in Tables I to VII are taken from United States Bureau
of the Census. Ninth Census: 1870, y. 3, pp. 394--408 ( for 1850, 1860,
1870). Twelfth Census: 1900, v. 7, Manufactures, pt. 1, pp. 3-17
(for 1880, 1890, 1900). Thirteenth Census: 1910, v. 8, Manufactures, 1909, pp. 520-541 (for 1910). Census of Manufactures: 1914.
Abstract, pp. 530-543 (f9r 1914). Fourteenth Census: 1920, v. 8,
Manufactures, 1919, pp. 328-490 (for 1919).
2. The industrial groupings of the 1910 census used throughout the
table~ are somewhat different from those of other years, because this
census combined figures for several branches of industries left separate in other years.
3. Figures for 1850 and 1860 are given for males and females, for
1870 for men over 16 years and women over 15 years, for all other
years for men and women over 16 years of age.

!.-Actual and relative number of women employed in the manufaotur6
of cotton and cotton goods--census years
Women employees


1850 ________________________________
___ - - - - -- -- - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - _______________________
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -_
1870_______ ------ __ -- _______ -- -- ___ -- -- __ -- ___________ -- ___ _
1880 ___ - ----- --- - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - -- --- 189() __ --- _--- _-- _-- -- -- __________ --- _____________ -- ___ - - ___ _
1900 _____ --- _--- _________ -- __ _-- -- ____ -- __ -- -- ____________ -1910 _________ -- ______ __-- _______ -- -- ____ -- ____ -- ___________ _
1914 _______________ -- -- ____________ -- _-- ___ -- -- -- ______ -- -- _
1919______ - _- _- _- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - --- - - - -- - -- ---- - - - - - - -


Adult em•

447, 70II


Per cent
increase Per cent
or deof total

64,562 ---------75, 365
+16. 7
-7. 2
+30. 5
+18. 3
149, 740
-. 2
189, 736
+26. 7

61. 3
61. 9
58. 7
54. 5
· 42.4

II.-A.ctual and relative number of women employed in the manufacture
of gla,ss and gla,ssware-census years
Women employees

1850 _______ ----- _-- ____ -- -- _- -- _- _- - - ___ - _- _- _____ - _- _- -- - - _
186()_ - - -- ------ -- - - - - - - - ---- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - -- - - -- - - - - - 1870_ --- _-- -- -- -- -- -- - -- - - - -- -- - - -- -- - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - ]880_ - - - - -- -- -- ---- -- - - - - - - - - -- --- - - - - - -- -- - ---- - -- - - - -- -- - 1890 ___ -- -- - - ---- -- - ---- -- -- -- - --- -- -- - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - -- - ] 900_ - - -- - - - -- - - - - - -- - - -- -- - -- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - 1905 __ - _- _- - - - - - - - - - - --- - -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1909 __ - - -- - - - - - - - - - - -- -- - - - - - - - - -- - - - -,- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1914 _____ -- _-- -- ____ - -- - - - - -- - - - - ---- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - 11>19 ___ --- _-- --- ____ --------- _---- -- _____ -- -- _____ --- ----- --

Adult employees

Ill, 624


Per cent
increase Per cent
or deof total

97 ---------251
+158. 8
+184. 9
+a. 6
+154. 4
+87. 2
+32. 9
+s. 8
+10s. 2

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

1. 7
2. 8
5. 9
7. 7
6. 0
5. 7


III.-Actual and, r el ati ve number of women employed, i,,n, tke manufacture
of paper and wood pulp--census years
Women employees

1850_- - -- __ ________ _____________________ ____ • _•• -- •• - • - • - - - 1860. _________ ___________ __ ______________________ _____ - - - _- 1870 ___ ____ ___ ___ __ ________ _________________ ________ _______ _
___ ___-- - - ___ -- -- - - - --_____________
- - -- - - - - - - - --_________
- - -- - -- - -____________
-- --- - -- - ---_
1890 _____________________
1900 __ __ __ -- -- -- -- ___ ______ ---- _______ -- __ - - ____________ - - - _
- -- -- ---- -- --___
----- ----- -- -- - -_______
---- - - -__- -_______
- - - -- - -________
- -- - - -- -_
1914 __
___ -______
1919 __ __ -- __ _____ ____ - - _____ -- ____ -- • - --- ___ ______________ __


Adult employees

24, 965

Per cent
increase Per cent
number - or deof total

+ 24.3

35. 8
12. 6

IV.-Actual an d r ela tive number of women e1nployed i-n the manufacture
of nibber and rubber l)'rod,ucts--census years
Women employees

1850 __ ___ · - -- -- ---- - - - - - -- --- -- -- -- - - - - ------- -- - ---- - - --- - 1860 _____ - - -- -- ---- ___ --- ---- -- -- __ _-- _--- ---- -- -- ---- - - --- 1870_. ___ -- - _- _- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1880 •• - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1890 __ ___ -- -- - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - 1900•• - - -- _- - - - - - -- - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - • - - - -- - - - - - - - - - _- _- - - __ _
1910 ____ -- - ___ -- -- _. __• • ___-- ___ ____ _-- -- _______________ ___ _
1914_ . __ - - ___• _- -- -- __ __ ___________ __ _________________ ____ __
1919 ____ - - - - _. -- -- -- - - - _____ _- - - - - - - - - - - - ___ __ -- _- - - - __- --- _
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Adult employees

2, 568
5, 679
19, 680
35, 765



Per cent
increase Per cent
or deof total

+66. 7

60. 7
37. 6
24. 2



V.-Act ual and r elative n um ber of women empwyed in th-e manufacture
of tobaooo and t obacco products-census yea,,-s
Women employees
Adult employ_ees 1


_. _._____
_. - - -________
- - - - - - - -___
- - -__________________
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -________
- - - - - - - -__- -____
- - - -_
1860..•• __
1870. ___ ___ ______ _______ ____ __ ___ _____ ____ _____ ____ ___ _____ _
1880. - - -- - - - -- -- - - -- -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - -- - -- - - -- - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - 1890___- -__________
- - - _- - - -_______
- - - - - - -_______
- - - - - - -___
- - -__--________
- -- - - - - -____
-- - -_____________
- - - - - - - - - - - - -_
1910 __ ______ ___ ______ ___ __ ____ __ _____________ ____ ______ __ __ _
1914 ___ _- - --- __________ - -- - - -- _- - -- -- - __ __- - _-- - - _-- - - -- -- - _
1919. __- - __-- ___ _____ ___ _____________ ___ __ __ _____ -- - - - - -- - - _



1, 975
11, 590

24, 501



P er cent
increase Per cent
of total
or decrease

+51. 4
+62. 5
+121. 7
-14. 2

13. 9
15. 9 ·
33.3 .
45. 1

1850 ___ -- - ---- - - -- - - ___ -- -- _---- --- -- - -- _- - - - - -- _. _-- --- ---1860 _________ -- ___________ - -- ___________________ ______ ___ - . 1870 __ ___ -- - -- -- - ------- - ----- - - - - - -- --- _----- _- - - - - - -- -- -- 1880_-- - -- -- -- ---- -- - - -- ____ -- -- . --- -- __ -- -- ___ _____ --- -- -- 1890 __ --- -- -- ------ _- - -- -- ____ -- - - - - --- __- - ___ -- __ _-- - - - - - -1900_ - . - . - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1910 __ - _- _- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - -- 1914 _____
__ -- ______
-- --____
-- --____
__ ____
- - -- -- - __
_-- _- -___
- - --- ._
-- - - __
___ _______
__ ________


7, 997
25, 181
49, 207
83, 666

37, 762

+301. 4
+165. 9
+ 56.0

9. 1
18. 5
28. 9

158, 440

93, 341




55. 0

1 List ed as "Tobacconists."
2 All tobacco manufactures included in one total; namely, 174,610 persons employed, of whom 48 .2 per
cent were women.
• Not reported.

Vl.- A ct ual and r elatvve number of women employed in canning and
preserving fruit s and vegeta-bles, preserves and sauces, fish, and oysterscensus y ears


Women employees

1850. __--- ___ -- __ _-- -- ___ _• ___ __- - - - -- . -- --- - . .. -- - - - - - - . • - 1860. ____ __ __ ___ -- • __ _______ ___ _-- . .. .... •. .. -- . . . •. ---- - - - .
1870 ____ - - _. __-- - - -- -- __ -- _____ ___ -- - -- ___. - - -- - - -- - - -- . . _- .
1880. _- - -- __ -- ____________ __ ____ __. -- _. _. _. . - . - . - - . -- -- -- - - 1890 __ __-- - -- __ __ ____ ___ ________ . -- _. _. _. _- _- _- . -- . - - - - - . - . _
1900. __ __ ____ __ - - - - ____________ __ ___ - - - -- _- - - - . - - - - - - - - - - - - 1910 ___ _• __ -- __ - -- ___ ___ _________ - - - - -- - ___ -- _-- ___ ____ -- __ _
1914 __- - -- __ __ -- -- _-- ___ -- _-- - - __ ____ -- - _-- __ __ _______ ___ __ _
1919. - - - ------ --- -- - - - - ____ ____ _-- -- - - _- - - - _-- - - - -- - - - - - -- - -

•Not reported .
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Adult em-




6, 713
26, 923
198, 337


Per cent
increase Per cent
of total
or decrease

86 ---------4,109
15, 693
29, 842
26, 436
77, 593
101, 766

· +281.9
+90. 2
+193. 5

61. 2
53. 7


54. 4


V II.-A..ct 1w. l a,nd, relat ive number of women employed, in the mam,,ufacture of electrwa.Z machinery, apparatus, and supplies--census y ears


Women employees
Adult em•



18ro________________ - - _- -- - - - - - - - - -- - -............ • • • • • · · ·· · · · • ·- -- - · · - · - ---- -- --- - 1860_ .. _-- .. _.... _.... _... _..... _.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13 ·-- -- - - -- • _.
1870_.. _. . _•... . .... _....... . . _. _................... .. ....• _ ____ ___ . _. _____ •• __ __...
1880_ .... ····-·-· ............ _-· ...... . . ·-·· .. . .. . . . .. .. . .. .
1, 204
1890_. ·--·-··---······· ........ ····-·-·---·· .......... ··-··8, 758
1, 4.69
l9()()_·-··· · -············ · ············-····················· 40, 308
6, 158
1910_···-·-·· . . ............... _··-··· . ................... · · 102, 003
23, 398
1914. .......................................... ....... ... -- 110, 587
22, 167
1919. ........... ·-···-·····-·················c··············
62, 920


Per cent
increase Per cent
of total
or decrease
· -- ---- - - - ---- - ---- _- - --- - --- ·---- ---- _
_______ • _.. ______ ___
6. 0
+ 1, 940. 3
16. 8
+319. 2
15. 3
+280. 0
22. 9
-5. 3
20. 0
+183. 8
25. 9

VIII.-Women emp.Zoyed, as stenographers and, typists-census years
Women stenogra•
phers and typists


Per cent
Number of all employees

1870 ... ..................... . ............... -·............ . . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
·• 6
1880_......... ................................ . ............ · - ........ . ......... . - .............. ······. --·
1890. ....... . .......... . ..... . .. . .....•.... ·--··········· ··-·· · · · · · · ······ ····-·· ··· - I 21,270
63. 7
1900 ...................... ·-·······-······························ ··········· · ······ · I 86,118
76. 7
HllO. _.... -· ........ ·- ........ _... ·- ............... . .. . . . ••.. . . . .. -· ... . . .. . . . . . . . . . . ' 263, 315
83. 1
1920•..•.• . •..• -· ••..................•............... · - ··-. . . • •. •• . . • • . . . . . . . . . . . . . . • ' !WK, 744
91. 8
1 U.

S. Bureau of the Census. Ninth census: 1870. v. 1, p. 688.
Eleventh Census: 1890. Population, p t . 2, p . 308.
U. S. Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census: 1900, Special reports- Occupations, p. ccnxl.
'U. 8. Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Oensus: 1920, v. •· Occupations, p. 43.

•u . S. Bureau of the Census.


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

[These bulletins 11,nd reports will be sent free of charge upon request]
1. Proposed Employment of Women During the War in the !ndustries of Niagara
Falls, N. Y. J.6 pp. 1P18.
No, 2. Labor L11,ws for Women in Industries Jn Indhmn. 29 pp. 1918.
No. 3. Standards for the Employment of Women in Industry. 7 pp. 1919.
No. 4. Wages of Candy Makers in Philadelphia in 1919. 46 pp. 1~19.
No. 5. The Eight-Hour Day in Federal and State Legislation. 19 pp. 1919.
No. 6. The Employment of Women in Hazardous Industries in the United States.
8 pp. 1919.
No. 7. Night Work Laws in the United StateR. 4 pp. 1919.
No. 8. Women in the Government Service. 37 pp. 1920.
No. 9. Home Work in Bridgeport, Conn. 3n pp. 1920.
No. 10. Hours and Conditions of Work for Women in Industry in Virginia. 32 pp.
No. 11. Women Street Car Conductors and Ticket Agents. 90 pp. 1920.
No. 12. The New Position of Women in American Industry. 158 pp. 1920.
No. 13. Industrial Opportunities and Training for Women and Girls. 48 p8. 1920.
No. 14. A Physiological Basis for t)le Shorter Working Day for Women. 2 pp. 1921.
No. 15. Some Effects of Legislation Limiting Hours of Work for Women. 26 pp. 1921.
No. 16. See Bulletin 40.
No. 17. Women's Wages in Kansas. 104 pp. 1921.
No. 18. Health Problems of Women in Industry. (Reprint of paper published in the
Nation's Health, May, 1921.) 11 pp. 1921.
No. 19. Jowa Women in Industry. 73 µp. 1922.
No. 20. Out of print.
No. :.!1. Women in Rhode Island Industries. 73 pp. 1922.
No. 22. Women in Georgia Industries. 89 pp. 1922.
No. 23. The Family Status of Breadwinning Women. 43, pp. 1922.
No. 24. Women in Maryland Industries. 96 pp. 1922.
No. 25. Women in the Candy Industry in Chicago and St. Louis. 72 pp. 1923.
No. 26. Women in Arkansas Industries. 86 pp-. 1923.
No. 27. The Occupational Progress of Women. 37 µp. 1922.
No. 28. Women's Contributions in tbe Field of Invention. 51 pp. 1923.
No. 29. Women in Kentucky Industries. 114 pp. 1923.
No •. 80. Thll Share of Wage-Earning Women in Family Support. 170 pp. 1923.
No. 31. What Industry Means to Women Workers. 10 pp. 1923.
No. 32. ·Women in South Carolina Industries. 128 pp. 1923.
No. 33. Proceedings of the Women's Industrial Conference. 190 pp. 1923.
No. 34. Women in Alabama Industries. 86 pp. 1924;.
No. 35. Women in Missouri Industries. 127 pp. H)24.
No. 36. Radio Talks on Women in Industry. 34 pp. 1924.
No. 37. Women in New Jersey Industries. 99 pp. 1924.
No. 38. Married Women in Industry. 8 P,I}. 1924.
No. 39. Domestic Workers and Their Employment Relations. 87 QI>. 1924.
No. 40. State Laws Affecting Working Women. 55 pp. 1924. (Revision of Bulletin 16.)
No. 41. The Family Status of Breadwinning Women 1n Four Selected Cities. 145
pp. 1925.
No. 42. List of References on Mlnimum Wage for Women in the United States and
Canada. 42 pp. 1925.
No. 43. Standard and Scheduled Hours of Work for Women in Industry. 68 pp. 1925.
No. 44. Women in Ohio Industries. 137 pp. 1924.
No. 45. Home Environment and Employment Opportunities of Women in Coal-Mine
Workers' Families. 61 pp.. 1925.
No. 46. Facts About Working Women-A Graphic Presentation Based on CenS'Us Statistics. 64 pp. 1925.
No. 47. Women in the Fruit-Growing and Canning Industries in the State of Washington.. ( In press.)
No. 48. Women in Oklalioma industries. (In press.)
No. 49. Women Workers and Family Support. 10 pp. 1925.
No. 50. Effects of Applied Research Upon the Employment Opportunities of American
Women. (In press.)
No. 51. Women in Illinois Industries. (In press.)
First Annual Report of the Director. 1919.
Second Annual Report of the Director. 1920.
Third Annual Report of the Director. 1921.
Fourth Annual Report of the Director. 1922.
Fifth Annual Report of the Director. 1923.
Sixth Annual Report of the Director. 1924.
Seventh Annual Report of the Director. 1925.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis