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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


[H. 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 H ous~ of Representatives of the
United States of America in Oongre8'$ assembled, That there shall be
~ establish~d 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 polices which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women,
' improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment. The said
bureau shall have authority 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 directort
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 :lnd 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 for the work of
this bureau.
SEc. 6. That this act shall take effect and be in force from and
after its passage.
Approved, June 5, 1920.
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Women's progress in industry_______________ _____________ ___ _________
Recognition by the Federal Government___________ __ _____ ____ __ ______
Standards for the employment of women____ __ _________ _____ _______ ___
Women's wages____ __ ____ __ ______ ______ _____ ___ ____ ___ ______ ___ ____ __
Hours of work__ ______ __ ______ _____ _______ _______________ __ ___ ____ __
Working conditions__________ __ ______ _________ ___ ________ __ ________ __
The women workers_________ _______ _____________________ __ ____ __ ___ _

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

P age

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


u. s.


Wasldngton, M(JJf'ch 5, 1927.
,. Sm: I have the honor to transmit this bulletin, "Short Talks
About Working Women."
These talks were in substance published by the Federationist, and
the bureau has been asked to publish these short articlefii in pamphlet
Respectfully submitted.
Hon. JAMES J. DAv1s,
Secretary of Labor.
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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


She seeketh wool, and ftam, and worketh wulingly with her hands.
~he maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth gir,ef,les unto
the merchant.
She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the
bread of idleness.
Give her of the fruit of her ltands-,- and ~et her own works praise
her in the gates.
-PROVERBS XXXI: 13, 24, 27, 31
i • ,(



Since the beginning of the world men have required and have
received the help of women in furnishing the sustenance of life to
themselves and their families. Before the development of the factory system this help came chiefly through the product of women's
labor in the home. Later it came in the form of the contributory
wages of women who worked in the factories, mills, and workshops,
or, when no better opportunity offered for remunerative labor,
the taking of boarders a~d lodgers was resorted to in order to add
to the family income. ·
The business of making food and clothing for the human family
was done chiefly in the home until the industrial development,
through the factory system, began. Woman was the preparer of
food, the weaver of cloth, the maker of clothing, and these jobs were
done within the four walls of the home. In fact many activities
which are centered outside the home to-day were once carried on
within it. Women members of the family did not receive any stated
pay :for this work-the only p·ersons paid were the servants employed
in these activitie_s. The industrial pursuits carried on within the
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home naturally were limited, and many things which are now
necessities in that time either were considered as luxuries or were
unheard of.
The development of the new manufacturing system caused much
of the work done in the home to be taken over by the factory. In
the beginning such manufacturing was conducted on a very limited
scale. First came the small neighborhood establishment, which was
run by the owner with the help of relatives. This gradually developed- into the large fact ory, and finally there came the industrial
center as we have it to-day.
In this development women took their part, and they followed
the industries out of the home and into the factory. The real change
for the women was not the work itself but the manner in which the
work was performed and the change from an unpaid occupation to a
paid one. In other words, with the development of the factory
system women were transformed from the breadwinner taken . for
granted in the home to the paid breadwinner outside the home.
The factory system has had its largest development within the
nineteenth century, and the greatest number of women entered industrial pursuits in the decade 1900 to 1910, this being due largely to
the rapid expttnsion of industry in that period. According to the
census figures there were in 1900 five million wo;men in gainful
employment, and in 1910 eight million women were working for
gain in various occupations. / The decade from 1910 to 1920, in
which only a half million more women joined the wage-earning
ranks, showed nothing like so great an increase as did the former
decade, a condition traceable to the fact that the period from 1910
to 1920 was not one of very large industrial expansion.
However, the significance of women's employment lies chiefly in
its trend, and from 1910 to 1920 there was considerable change in
the numbers of women in the various occupations. We find that
domestic and personal service lost women at a slightly higher rate
than 2 from every 15, and that agricultural pursuits lost them at
the ra~e of 2 from every 5. There was a striking increase among
women in the professional ranks, and in clerical service they more
than doubled. Though there was only a small increase in. the total
number of women employed in manufacturing and mechanical industries, very notable increases of numbers already large took place
in the making of clothing, cotton goods, cigars and tobacco, food,
knit goods, shoes, silk goods, woolens and worsteds, and iron and
steel. In food and in iron and steel the number of women more
than doubled.
The trend of women's employment ·within this decade is particularly significant in view of the popular belief during the war, when
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women were the second line of defense, that the number of women
in industry was increasing tremendously, a belief not sustained by
the census figures of 1920. The idea that such an increase was taking
place was due to the fact that every time a woman entered a pursuit
not :formerly open to women, the publicity given to the change in
occupational status caused the public to believe that a large and
increasing number of women were seeking employment outside the
home. When women dropped out of domestic service or gave up
dressmaking to work in a munitions factory or to become street-car
conductors, the entire community heard of the new employment,
but no one subtracted these women from the ranks of those in their
:former occupations, and the impression prevailed that thousands
of women were entering gainful employment ior the first time.
In analyzing the figures one is forced to realize that women are
striving to escape from the me!!iaJ.- positions to the more pleasant
and better paid occupations. -\Vomen as well as men must work to
live, and women as well as men are constantly striving :for a higher
attainment. And we can not say that it is sentiment or frivolity or a
dissatisfaction with the work of the home and the family that is
causing women to become wage earners. With a large majority of
them it is a matter of dire necessity.
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In the decade from 1900 to 1910 there was a growing recognition
that women were increasing rapidly in industrial pursuits and that
many. problems confronting working women should be the concern of
the F.ederal Government itself.
Almost the first official utterance of the National Women's Trade
Union League, which had been created at the Boston convention of
the American Federation of Labor in 1903, was the passing of a
resolution requesting the Federal Government to make an investigation of women in industry. In 1906 three Chicago women-Mrs.
Raymond Robins, Miss Jane Addams, and Miss Mary McDowelJwent to Washington and appeared before a congressional committee
to ask for an appropriation to make a special investigation of women
- in industry. 1'he appropriation finally was granted by Congress,
and the investigation was conducted by Charles P. Neill, then Commissioner of Labgr Statistics in the Department of Commerce and
Labor. The investigation extended over a period of three years,
from 1907 through 1909, and covered many of the industries in
which women were employed. The report was published in 19
volumes and laid the basis for an insistent demand for a bureau
in the Government whose concern should be the working woman.
In the meantime there was created by the Government the Department of Labor. Just as the Department of Labor is the youngest department in the Government, so the Women's Bureau is -the
youngest bureau cre~ted by law in the Government. Moreover, just
as the increasing strength of industrial workers made more compelling the demand for the Department of Labor and finally necessitated the cl"eation of such a department, so with the Women's Bureau-as the women workers entered industry more and more, the
demand became insistent that there should be created in the Government a bureau concerned solely with the problems peculiar to
working women. The American Federation of Labor at its conventions passed resolutions asking for the creation of a women's
bureau, and the president, Samuel Gompers, and the legislative
committee were active in the agitation for such a bureau. In 1916
Representative Casey, of Pennsylvania, introduced in Congress a
bill to create a woman's division in the Department of Labor, but
this bill did J!Ot pass. After the entrance of the United States
into the World War the Secretary of Labor called a conference of
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representative men and women to work out the best way of recruiting labor for war service. An agency called the Woman in Industry
Service was one of the several services created in the Department of
Labor as a result of this conference, and Miss Mary Van Kleeck
was appointed its director.
During the short war existence of the Woman in Industry Service,
from July, 1918, until the signing of the armistice in November of
the same year, the work of this service consisted mainly in upholding
t~e standards for the employment of women whicp. had been created
previous to the war. American labor in general realized fully the
necessity of _m aintaining standards which it had won with much
sacrifice. This was a lesson learned from England, ·where the abrogation of labor standards at the beginning of the· war resulted, after
four years of continuous war demands, in a tired working nation.
Workers may be compared to the runners in a marathon race. If
the runners were to start out at full speed they would not last until
the race was over; those who know how to conserve their energy
are the ones most likely to win. So it is with workers. It is not
the sudden spurt which will bring them to their goal of large production, but the long steady effort which makes for endurance to the
end. It was a realization of this that was responsible for the adoption by the Woman in Industry Service of the policy of not abrogating the standards that had been created for the employment of
As the coming of peace showed no decline in the need :for a clear
policy and definite information about the conditions under which
women should be employed in the industries o:f the country, the
Woman in Industry Service was continued for the fiscal year 1920
through an appropriation by Congress "to enable the Secretary of
Labor to continue the investigations touching women in industry."
This means of continuation:, however, did not provide a permanent
future for the service. The granting of the appropriation was
dependent entirely upon Congr~, the work of the service being
classed as a special activity and the service itself not made statutory
and, therefore, permanent.
As the result of a special effort on the part of forces interested
in the welfare of wage-earning women, a bill to create the Women's
Bureau as a permanent organization in the Department of Labor
was introduced in Congress. Hearings on this bill were held by a
· joint committee of the Senate and House, at which representatives
from the following organization~ gave testimony :
American Federation of Labor.
National Women's Trade Union League.
National Federation of Federal Employees.
National Consumers' League.
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National League of Women Voters.
National Young Women's Christian Association.
Bureau of LaJ?or Statistics, U. S. Department of Labor.
Children's Bureau, U. S. Department of Labor.
Division of Industrial Studies of the Russell Sage Foundation. .
University of Chicago Settlement.
Women's Executive Committees of the National Republican Committee and
National Democratic Committee.
National Republican Congressional Cpmmittee.

On June 5, 1920, Congress passed the bill establishing the Women's
Bureau in the Department of Labor " to formulate standards and
policies which shall promote the welfare of wage-earning women,
improve their working conditions, increase their efficiency, and advance their opportunities for profitable employment." The bureau
was given authority "to investigate and report to the said department upon all matters pertaining to the welfare of women in
It is of great importance that the Federal Government should
interest itself more and more in the human problems of the race.
The Department of Agricultur0 is of tremendous value in conserving animal and plant life, but what is even more essential is the conservation of human life, which in the final analysis brings us to
the importance of women. As an individual the woman worker
has a right to health and happiness, but this individual right has a
much broader significance when we think of her as a mother or a
potential mother of the race. It is the duty of the Federal Government to make sure that in our eagerness for expansion of industries
and the ever-growing demand for more production we do not exploit
these women to their detriment and to the detriment of the country
as a whole.
In harmony with the policy of the Government, the Women's
Bureau has no mandatory powers nor any laws to administer. We
are a Government by the will of the people, and recognize the right
of the States to make their own laws. However, the declaration of
standards and policies by the Women's Bureau has the force inherent
in facts scientifically secured and presented and must influence
toward uniformity the industrial standards of the several States.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The entrance of the United States into the World War, with the
ever increasing number of women in industry and the slogan
"Women are the second line of defense," made it necessary not only
to maintain standards already set for the employment of women
but to raise for the difficult years ahead new standards which should
be in advance of some of the labor laws throughout the States and
in uniformity with the best practices as triea. and approved.
Mary Van Kleeck, Director of the Woman in Industry Service,
took . up the question of standards with the Witr Labor Policies
Board in order to conform with the standards already adopted.
Certain standards, indorsed by employers and labor alike, were
agreed upon for the employment of women on Government contracts,
but the signing of the armistice prevented them .from becoming
Realizing that women's work is essential to the Nation in times
of peace as well as in times of war, the standards thus agreed upon
have been issued by the omen's Bureau, the permanent organization of the Woman in Industry Service, and form Bulletin . 3 of
its publications. Though formulated after a great deal of thought
and the collection of much information concerning the best practices
in the employment of women, they are offered merely as suggestions
for those employers who ~re ambitious to lead their competitors in
employment relations as in other phases of American industry.
The following is a resume of these standards :



. No woman should be employed or permitted to work more than
eight hours in any one day. The time when the work of women
employees shall begin and end and the time allowed for. meals
should be posted in a conspicuous place in each workroom. The half
holiday on Saturday should be the custom. There should be one day
of rest in every seven days. At least 30 minutes should be allowed
for a meal. A rest period of 10 minutes should be allowed in the
middle of each working period without thereby increasing the length
of the working-day. No woman should be employed between the
hours of midnight and 6 a. m.

Wages should be established on the basis of occupation and not
on the basis of sex or race. The minimum wage rate should cover
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the cost of living in health and decency, instead of a bare existence,
and should allow foi;- dependents and not merely for the individual.

State labor laws and industrial codes should be consulted with
reference to provisions for comfort and sanitation.
Workroom floors should be kept clean. Lighting should be without glare and so arranged that direct rays do· not shine into the
workers' eyes. Ventilation shoul.d be adequate and heat sufficient
but not excessive. Drinking water should be cool and accessible,
with individual drinking cups or sanitary bubbler fountain provided.
Washing facilities, with hot and cold water, soap, and individual
towels, should be provided in sufficient number and in accessible
locations to make washing before meals and at the close of the workday convenient. Dressing rooms should be provided adjacent to
washing facilities, making possible change of clothing outside the
workrooms. Rest rooms should be provided. A room separate from
the workroom should be provided wherein meals may be eaten, and
whenever practicable hot and nourishing food should be served.
Toilets should be clean and accessible and separate for men and
women. Their number should have a standard ratio of 1 toilet
to every 15 workers employed.
Continuous standing and continuous sitting are both injurious. A
chair should be provided for every woman and its use encouraged. It
is possible and desirable to adjust the height of the chairs in relation
to the height of machines or worktables, so that the workers may
with. equal convenience and efficiency stand or sit at their work.
The seats should have backs. If the chairs are high, foot rests should
be provided.

Risks from machinery, danger from fire, and e:x;posure to dust,
fumes, or other occupational hazards should be scrupulously guarded
against. First-aid equipment should be proyided. Adequate fire
protection should be assured. Fire drills and other forms of education of the workers in the observance of safety regulations should
be instituted. Work is more efficiently performed by either men or
women if healthful conditions are established. It is usually possible
to changes which will remove such hazards to health as the
following :
(a) Constant standing or other posture causing physical strain.
(b) Repeated lifting of heavy weights, or other abnormally
fatiguing motions.
( o) Operation of mechanical devices requiring undue strength.
( d) Exposure to excessive heat, humidity, or cold.
( e) Exposure to dust, fumes, or other occupational poisons, without
adequate safeguards against disease.
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Women should not be prohibited from employment in any occupation except those which have been proved to be more injurious to
women than to men, such as certain processes in the lead industries.

No work should be given out to be done in rooms used for living
or sleeping purposes or in rooms directly connected with living
or sleeping rooms in any dwelling or tenement.

In establishing satisfactory relatio_ns between a company and
its employees a personnel department is important, charged with
responsibility for selection, assignment, transfer, or withdrawal of
workers and the establishment of proper working con~tions.
Where women are employed, . a competent woma}n should be
appointed as employment executive with responsibility for conditions affecting women. Women should als·o be appointed in supervisory positions in the departments _employing women.
The opportunity for a worker to choos·e an occupation for which
she is best adapted is important in insuring success in the work to
be done.

The responsibility should not rest upon the management alone of
determining wisely and effectively the conditions which should be
established. The genuine· cooperation essential to production can be
secured only if provision is made for the workers as a group, acting
through their chosen representatives, to share in the control of the
conditions of their employment. In proportion to their numbers
women should have full representation in the organization necessary for collective bargaining.
In conclusion it may be said that, aside from the vital importance
to the Nation of conserving the health of its women, the greater
necessity for control of the standards of women's employment than
of the conditions under which men work is due to the fact that
women always have been in a weaker position economically than
have men. Therefore it is necessary to create·an opportunity, as yet
not possible of creation by the workers themselves, for the upbuilding
of safeguards to conserve alike the industrial efficiency and the health
of women, and to make it impossible for selfish interests to exploit
them as unwilling competitors in lowering those standards of wages,
hours, working conditions, and industrial relations which are for the
best interests of the workers, the industries, and society as a whole.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

In the lives of many millions of workers "pay day" has very
great significance. On that day there will be money coming in to
supply the necessities of living, it may be for one human being, it
may be for several. · Millions of families depend upon pay day for
the maintenance of the home and the persons within that home.
Generally speaking, no food, no shelter, no clothing, no recreation,
not any of life's necessities may be had without pay day. Therefore
this day is tremendously important, both for the regularity of its
recurrence and for the sufficiency of what it brings-the amount of
money that a week's labor will produce.
Nothing else is so important in a worker's life as are wages.
Wages must sustain life in all of its ramifications; they must be
the supporter of homes; they determine the very life of the workers,
their health and comfort, their opportunities. Insufficiency of wages
probably causes more sorrow and distress than any other one thing
in the universe. Every one of us knows the importance of the wage,
the salary, or the income; whether it is in the weekly pay envelope,
the salary check once a month, or in the cutting of coupons twice a
year, the amount that comes in stands for the same things.
The contents of the pay envelope have many demands upon them,
and unfortunately they can not always carry all their responsibilities. That is only too true among women workers. The Women's
Bureau has made investigations of wages paid to women in 14
States, and the highest median earnings, those of a Rhode Island
study in 1920, were $16.85 per week. Th_e lowest were in Mississippi,
surveyed in 1925, and these were $8.60 per week. The next to the
highest, found for New Jersey in 1922, were $14.95, and the next to
the lowest, found for Alabama in 1922, were $8.80. The median )
earnings in the other States surveyed were as follows: Ohio, $13.80;
Oklahoma, $13; Georgia, $12.95; Missouri, $12.65; Kansas, $11.95;
Arkansas, $11.60; Tennessee, $11.10; Delaware, $11.05; Kentucky,
$10.75; and South Carolina, $9.50. In none of the States investigated, except Rhode Island, was the median of the wages received
by the women as high as the minimum wage set by law in the State
of California.
Perhaps it would be well to define the· terms a "median" and
a "minimum" w:tge. The median means that one-half the women
are paid below and one-half are paid above the sum mentioned.
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Take, for example, Mississippi, whose median of $8.60 a week means
that one-half the women investigated in that · State were paid below
and one-half were paid above that sum. In States with a minimumwage law no woman to whom the wage applies can ·be paid below
the wage set by the commission. The time required for learning and
the apprentice wage are taken into consideration. Under the minimum-wage system, workers themselves sit on the wage boards with
employers and other persons, and bargain for their wages; this
method is in conformity with the collective-agreement negotiations
of the trade-union organizations. Where there is neither minimumwage commission nor labor organization, however, individual bargaining prevails. If there are many women looking for work, there
is a desperate question of getting a job of any· sort whatsoever, and
the wages and conditions of work are left to the employer to determine. Compelled by necessity, a woman must work for whatever
the employer will pay, and the phrase "individual bargaining"
becomes a myth instead of a reality.
For years the theory has stubbornly persisted that women are
in industry for only a short time, and that their earnings are of
no very great social significance because "the family," the unit of
modern civilization, is dependent upon woman not as a wage earner
but as a home-keeper. More and more, however, modern industrial
studies show that women wage earners have a double social significance. It is found that they are contributing a by no means insignificant proportion of the family wage, in many cases being the
entire support of a good-sized family, while at the same time they
are fulfilling their age-old function of home-keeper. It is for this
reason that any discussion of women's wages to-day should be
accompanied by an account of their home responsibilities. Their
wages still are based on the old theory that they have no :family responsibilities as wage earners, with results disastrous to that life
and health for the maintenance of which they are responsible.
" How do they do it 1 " is the question that recurs again and
again in the mind of the investigator as she interviews one girl after
another and hears her story of need at home which is relieved only
by her earnings ; of sick fathers, little brothers and sisters, widowed
mothers who have given out after many years of struggle to bring
up and educate their families and have passed the burden on to their
The lower wages for women in industrial occupations have a distinct influence on the wages of men. Any industrial group working for less than the standard which prevails in industry will have
the effect of lowering the wage standards for all employees.
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The standard £or the determinati on of wages suggested by the
·women's Bureau is that wages should be established on the .basis
of occupation and not on the basis of sex or race. This is suggested
from a well-founde d conviction that low wages for women are a
distinct menace to the individual woman, to the family, and to the
community as a whole. Equality and justice for the woman worker
will spell happier and more contented homes and a better citizenship.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Every morning between 7 and 8 o'clock hundreds of thousands
of women start their day's work in the factories and workshops of
the country. Every evening between 5 and 6 o'clock these women
finish their industrial work and go home, to housework, helping
with supper, and putting the children to bed. They are a valiant
army, and the need for their valor is all_the greater because the world
knows so little about their jobs and the number of hours a day they
are working.
1'here is an old saying that " man's work is from sun to sun, but
woman's work -is never done," and when you realize the many
demands, in addition to the hours in the factory, that are made upon
the . young girl and the adult in helping to maintain the home, the
old saying becomes a reality.
The Women's Bureau has made investigations of the hours of
E:mployment of women in industry in 18 States of the UnionAlabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
These studies cover approximately 2,600 establishments and 230,000
women. Of course the bureau has not been able to include every
establishment in each of these States, but it has sampled so fairly
that the facts are representative of the hours worked by the women
in the States surveyed.
More than one-third of all the women surveyed had a weekly
schedule of 48 hours or less, though only about 7 per cent worked
not more than 44 hours. Nearly two-thirds had a week longer
than 48 hours, and over one-fifth were scheduled :for a week of 54
hours or more. Some o:f the women included in the surveys had
exceedingly long hours, 3,709 being employed on a weekly sohedule
of 60 hours or more. The States varied greatly in th~ proportions
of women in the several hour classifications. Of all the States
Rhode Island had the best record :for the short week, with something
over two-thirds o:f its women scheduled :for 48 hours or less, followed
by Illinois with 62.0 per cent, and New Jersey with 55 per cent,
falling in this hour grouping. At the other end o:f the scale are
Georgia and Mississippi, each with 26 per cent of the women
scheduled to work 60 hours or more.
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In regard to the short working day, one 0£ 8 hours or less, the
States as a whole made a poorer showing than in the casa 0£ weekly
hours, since only one in five 0£ all the women had the 8-hour day
or one shorter.. More than one-half ( 55 per cent) 0£ the women had
a daily schedule 0£ 9 hours or more, and one-sixth 0£ them had a.
day 0£ at least 10 hours. Not far from 2,000 women were expected
to work 11 hours, or even longer, each day. Iowa, Illinois, and
Maryland each showed approximately one-third of the women workers to have a day 0£ 8 hours or less, and South Carolina with 84
per. cent 0£ its women scheduled to work 10 hours or more daily,
Georgia with 64 per cent, and Mississippi with 57 . per cent so
scheduled, head the list in the matter of the long workday.
It will be seen from these figures that there is a great difference
.in hours of employment. In some States a limitation set by law
tends to make the hours more uniform within the State, but even
then they may differ radically from those in the same industries
in other States. For example, the 48-hour week prevails in the
textile industry in Massachusetts, but in . the Carolinas a 10-hour
day is the custom and in the mills which work at night an 11-hour
schedule is not uncommon. Moreover, even where there is a legal
limitation we do not necessarily find uniform hours, since some plants
work to the full limit allowed and others have a much shorter
schedule. Where there is an hour law applying only to certain industries in a State, a much shorter day is likely to prevail in
other industries not coming under the law.
In general it may be said that many manufacturers have recognized the futility 0£ the long, fatiguing day and have gradually
come to realize that an 8-hour day is just as productive. as a
longer s,hift. Employers have been heard to say that they did
not institute the 8-hour day because they felt charitably inclined,
but because it was good business. One very striking experience
was reported by a manufacturer of lamps. He said that during
a slack period when he wanted to decrease his output of 5,000 lamps
a week, he shortened the plant's hours from 50 to 44. In spite
of the six hours decrease· the number of lamps produced remained
the same. Since no loss 0£ production resulted, the manufacturer
was convinced that a decrease in hours does not decrease output
and from that time he operated permanently on a 48-hour schedule.
Many experiences of this kind have been had throughout the country.
The reasons advanced by one employer £or having instituted the
shorter workday was that a neighboring plant which was doing the
same kind of work was on a shorter hour schedule and he could not
get sufficient labor to run his plant unless he had an equally short
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Employers frequently say that under the shorter schedule workers
are more interested in their work, less illness occurs, and labor turnover is reduced. Perhaps one of the greatest wastes in manufacturing is a high labor turnover with much new help to be broken in, and
the 8-hour day has been one of th.e influential factors in reducing
this labor cost.
There are other important reasons, from the workers' standpoint,
for a shorter workday. The noise and speed of machinery, the faulty
~entilation and light, the complexity or the monotony of the job, all
of which go with the present-day industrial life, necessitate shorter
hours of employment to prevent the workers from becoming unduly
fatigued. The need for a gradual reduction of the working day
has been recognized, and no one any longer thinks in terms of 14
or 15 hours 0£ work a day. The attention is now directed toward the
8-hour standard. Moreover, the workers desire the shorter day in
order to have time for participation in community life and the job
of citizenship. To be informed, that one may be a useful citizen,
takes time, and the working population of the country has a right
to enough leisure for this purpose. In fact, it would seem that the
Government, for its own protection, might see that sufficient time is
given to all its citizens to exercise their functions as useful members
of society.
Extreme subdivision of industrial processes, with the resulting
monotony for the worker-one of the greatest factors calling for the
reduction of the long day-is a matter to be considered, particularly
in connection with women, because women are employed very largely
in the industries where the subdivision is the · greatest, such as the
garment, the boot and shoe, the electrical-supply, and the textile
industries. For example, many women are engaged in the stitching
of long straight seams all day, the tacking of pockets, the pasting of
lining stays in shoes, or the running of 30 to 40 looms in a textile
mill. None of these operations requires any great skill, and they
mean, therefore, the same kind of work from morning to night, from
one week to the next. Because of the great monotony attending the
work through subdivision, the workers should have some interest
besides the work in the factory. What is more reasonable and constructive than for them to have a real interest in the home, the
community, and the country, something extremely difficult for the
exhausted workers who, under the long day, spend practically all
their waking hours in the factory.
The 8-hour day takes on an additional significance for women
workers because in so many instances they have home responsibilities,
which, when industrial hours are short, naturally constitute more of
an interest and less of a burden for the women. After all is said
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and done, the woman is the center of the home. Upon her devolves
the routine of home life, and if time and means are not sufficient
for the maintenance of the home the whole family suffers, the woman
perhaps mOilt of all. Men frequently have home responsibilities, but
it is a well-established fact that women, on the whole, carry much
the heavier bur den. Special emphasis, therefore, must be laid on the
fact that t4e problem of home responsibilities makes a shorter working day of even greater necessity to women in industry than to men,
since the time that the average working woman puts in at the factory
does not cover all of her day's work.
The data compiled from various State studies made by the
"\Vomen's Bureau indicate that the great majority of working women
live at home or with relatives. The highest proportion encountered
in any State was 94 per cent in South Carolina and the lowest was
83 per cent in Arkansas. From interviews by agents of the Women's
Bureau in the homes of many of these women it is safe to say that
the majority of them have very definite home responsibilities in
the form of washing, cleaning, cooking, mending, and the care of
children. The investigations prove conclusively that married women
and mothers of families return to their homes at the end of the day,
from the stores and factories in which they are employed, to meet all
those duties to which the average housewife devotes most of her day.
Nor is the married woman the only woman upon whom this burden falls. The daughter living at home is expected to help with
the housework, and even the girl who is living by herself finds it
necessary to do her own washing and sewing and cooking in order
to make an inadequate wage go as far as possible. Because of the
problems always present with women, which necessitate their doing
a large share of housework, it is obvious that the shorter workday is
of even greater importance to them than it is to men. In the words
of Miss Josephine GoldmarkThe limitation of working ·hours, therefore, which assures leisure, is not a
merely negative program. It limits work, indeed, to make good the daily
deficits, and to send back the worker physiologically prepared for another
day. It frees the worker from toil before exhaustion deprives leisure of its
potentialities. It thus fulfills a reasoned purpose. As the physiological function of rest is to repair fatigue, so the function of the shorter day is to
afford to working people- physiological rest-with all that is implied further
by way of leisure.1

Goldmark, Josephine.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Fa:tigue and efficiency.

New York, 1917.

P. 287.

Proper working conditions within factories, mills, and stores are
·another of the pillars on which rest the health and well-being of
the workers. Working conditions .comprise one of the three main
divisions-the others being wages and hours-which have such tremendous influence upon industry as a whole.
If a worker is compelled to work in insanitary and badly lighted
workshops, under a strain because of incorrect posture at work, exposed to the risk of dangerous machinery or fire hazard, inhaling
dust, fumes, or other poisonous air, the health of such worker is
steadily undermined and his efficiency lessened. He becomes discouraged; he can see no escape from the surroundings he is enduring; his general attitude toward life becomes one of indifference.
His work suffers on account of it, and his home and family suffer
even more.
In the investigations conducted by the Women's Bureau there has
been found the same situation in regard to working conditions as
obtains in wages and hours, that is, a tremendous variety of standards-some employers making little or no effort to conform to the
best, not even fulfilling the law, while those with the finest conditions, and the best wages and ho.u rs, usually very much exceed the
requirements of the law or of accepted standards. Many employers
have r.ecognized that the conditions in the factory have a very decided effect upon the efficiency of the workers, and through scientific
research and by engineering proce~ses they have eliminated much
of the :waste which naturally :follows poor conditions of work.
Others are still backward in improving conditions.
It is evident from investigation that poor working conditions generally accompany low wages and long hours. Where you find one
you will usually find the others. Like excessive hours, poor working conditions are wasters of human energy. The employer and the
worker who have realized this fact are well .'u pon the road to eliminate this waste in their particular industry.
One of the chief hazards to health is due to the failure to draw
off the dust fumes and gases which cause difficulty in breathing,
irritation to skin, and many other forms of poison to the system.
Nothing is more injurious to the health of the work~r than bad airrooms which are too cold, too hot, too humid; not ventilated. There
are devices in use which can largely eliminate these hazards. Continuous standing· and continuous sitting both are harmful. Not
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



having a chair to sit upon causes much unnecessary strain and
fatigue which could be relieved by this convenience. On the other
hand, for those who have to sit at work constantly, rest periods
which enable a worker to get up and stretch the muscles are very
helpful. The constant risk :from unguarded machinery and the
danger :from fire hazard should be speedily removed even in establishments not yet ready to make other improvements. All these
conditions have their disastrous effect upon the health and efficiency
of the workers, whether men or women.
There is great necessity to study bad conditions in regard to
whether they are more injurious to women than to men. By a careful study of a large number of cases of lead poisoning among men
and women over a considerable period of time, evidence was produced which established the fact that lead poisoning is more injurious
to women than it is to men. It may result in sterility, or in more
of the children being born dead, or in more of the babies dying
during the first year of life. Therefore it is more dangerous for
women to contract lead poisoning than it is for men, and some
occupations in industry where lead is used should be prohibited to
women. However, careful, scientific investigation should be made
before any occupation is prohibited. The Women's Bureau recommends, in its Standards for the Employment of Women, that they
should not be prohibited :from employment in any occupations
except those which have been proved to be more injurious to women
than to men.
At the present day the demand is frequently made that women
should be given equal opportunity with men in all occupations,
in all industries, and that no industrial legislation should be passed
for women alone. We have heard longer, and just as loudly, from
those who say that women belong to t he home and should not be
permitted to enter industrial occµpations. Neither of these opinions
is just to working women; they are not based on facts. The exponents of the creed first mentioned must pause before a presentation
of the case for better protection of working women based on a
scientific study of the effect on their health, and that of future generations, of exploitation, long hours, low wages, and improper working conditions. The working women themselves, as well as their
employers, will not be content with a sentimental or idealistic appeal
that is not based upon facts. The facts should be collected and presented strongly and clearly.
In an investigation fo a middle-western State it was found that
in the cigar factories a large group of women packers and labelers
stood at work, no seats being provided for them. The food-manufacturing establishments investigated provided no seats whatsoever.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



In one of the establishments of this group, employing the largest
number of women, only 10 seats were provided for 229 women. If
proper equipment had been installed more than 200 women could
have either sat or stood while at work. In the retail bakeries there
were no seats for the saleswomen.
In the laundries most of the work was done standing. The
women who remained in the laundries to eat their luncheons tried
to recover from their morning fatigue by lying on the tables. It
has been proved that JD.enders, markers, folders, and workers
can sit at work in a laundry. ·n would seem practicable for many
others to do so if different equipment were installed.
In the kitchens of restaurants in the State in question there were
no stools. Women were found resting on a garbage can. In some
of the dry-goods and five:-and-ten-cent stores seats were provided,
but their use was frowned upon by the floorwalkers. Facilities :for
the provision of clear and cool drinking water were not always in
evidence; a place in which to hang extra clothing and one in which
to wash up after the day's work was not provided in all cases. And
ma:ny of these shortcomings are found in other States.
One of the greatest of disease carriers is the common towel. In investigations in various States it is found even in these days that a
roller towel or other common towel is furnished by the employers,
though there may be a law :forbidding the practice. Such things
may seem small, but they have a real place in industrial life in
regard to health, cleanliness, and sanitation. Is anything more important in factories where food is being prepared-where candy is
being made, or crackers are being packed, or other food products are
being manufactured-than that the work should be done in the
cleanest and most healthful way possible 1 It means much to the
health of the whole community, the buyers of these products, if clean,
sanitary measures are practiced, and it is of tremendous concern to
the workers.
Ventilation, cleanliness, lighting, seating, service facilities-all
are important factors in the organization of a plant. Industrial
experts agree that an excellent investment for any plant is money
spent on good lighting and good ventilation, on scientific and comfortable seats for use whenever possible, on safety devices for the
prevention of accidents, on service facilities such as sanitary drinkin·g and washing arrangements, a satisfactory lunch room, rest room,
cloak room, and first-aid equipment.
Wh'at do these things mean in human lives and health and happiness 1· You must know the stories of individual working women if
you are to appreciate their full significance. ·you must know in
terms of human experience what it means to a woman to spend her
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



days in a factory where the workroom is not clean, the floor is caked
with dirt, the corners are cluttered with debris and papers, the walls
are festooned with cobwebs, and the windows are speckled with dirt;
where the men-who chew tobacco spit on the floor; and where the
room is never systematically cleaned, but instead a porter sweeps
when he "gets around to it" and the workers help when they have
time. You must know in terms of headache and eyestrain what it
means to face the window as ·you sit at work, and on dark days to
have an unshaded electric light glaring in yo,ur eyes.
The biggest question confronting the Nation to-day is the industrial question, and every citizen should interest himself to recognize and to understand the difficulties confronting employer and
worker, so that we may have just and lasting solutions to the many
problems. Working conditions . particul~rly need scientific study,
and the employer, the employee, and the public should welcome the
facts gathered by investigation.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Since the human factor in industry naturally is the most important from the point of view of production, the workers' energies,
which contribute so essentially to output, •should not be subjected to
undue wear and tear in the industrial field. Too frequently the
management is prone to overemphasize the importance of care and
improvement of machinery and neglect _the care and consideration
of the workers who operate such machinery. In consequence the
employers suffer the penalty of crippled production arising from the
fatigue, ill health, or other disaffection of employees whose interests
have not been sufficiently considered.
Apart from the poor mechanics 0£ the question, the nature and
requirements of the workers are . of much greater significance than
are the structure and care of machines, since the well-being of the
workers is imperative not only for the success of industry but for the
structure that is at the foundation of industry, namely, a healthy
The wages, hours, and working conditions of women are the greatest questions concerning the central figures which all these things
affect, the women themselves. But the public is interested to know,
als<;>, whether those women are native born or foreign born, young or
old, married or single. Do they live at home, with home duties and
responsibilities, or do they board, with only their own livelihood to
consider i These also are important questions affecting the woman
worker, and no one can appreciate fully the problems connected with
women in industry who does not regard the •women not only as wage
earners but as human beings. To understand .the needs of women at
work it is necessary to learn the conditions under which they live,
to analyze their home responsibilities in addition to the responsibilities or their work in the factories, to know their obligations to
dependents and their requirements of living. Such facts have been
presented in most of the 60 · reports published by the Women's
Bureau since its inception. In addition to wages, hours, and working conditions, personal data have been secured by means of cards
distributed among the women, who themselves answered the questions. More important still were the visits made by the agents of the
bureau to the women in their own homes, at which times were secured
authentic data in regard to home conditions and responsibilities.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



· In a study made by the Women's Bureau in the shoe industry in
Manchester, N. H., entitled" The Share of ·wage-earning Women in
Family Support," the question of the responsibility of men and
women toward the home resolved itself into a complicated situation
of joint responsibility by several wage earners for the upkeep of the
home and the support of others. Usually it was not a question of the
entire support of others-only 31.2 per cent of the men and 3.2 per
cent of the women were found to be carrying alone the economic
responsibility of the family-but everyone was contributing something to the family of which she or he was an integral part.
The condition which was found to have the greatest effect on the
proportion of the wage contributed to the family was the relationship of the contributor. ~ractically 100 per cent of the men and
women who were husbands and wives, or fathers and mothers,
contributed all their earnings, irrespective of amount, to meet the
expenses of the family. On the other hand, the single m~n's and
single woman's contribution of all earnings occurred in a much
smaller proportion of cases; in fact, only 34.6 per cent of the men
who were sons contributed all their earnings, a proportion- considerably less than that of the daughters, 59.9 per cent of whom
contributed all theirs. As the husbands and wives, fathers and
mothers, as already stated, practically always contributed all their
earnings, a greater proportion of working women than of working
m n definitely assumed extensive home responsibilities.
In proportion to their ability, moreover, the daughters assumed
a much more complete ~esponsibility. They earned far less than
did the sons, yet their contributions were practically the same. . In
these cases it is the women who are merging themselves more completely in the family group by contributing all their earnings, while
their brothers, although contributing substantially the same amounts,
are retaining something for their own use. The sons are assuring
themselves of a degree of independence and an opportunity to strike
out for themselves, both practically denied the daughters, whose
obligations in many cases are not of their own choosing and who are
carrying cares and responsibilities resulting from the tendency of
present-day life to leave old age without provision of support.
In another report of the Women's Bureau, The Family Status of
Breadwinning Women in Four Selected Cities, of the 31,481 working women in these cities who reported on the number of wage earners in their families, 27; per cent were in families naving no men
wage earners and 21 per cent were classed as the sole breadwinners
in their families. Of the single working women, three-fifths were
living with their parents; the remainder were maintaining their own
homes, boarding and lodging, or living with other relatives . .
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The four cities analyzed from the standpoint of working women
in the report mentioned-Butte, Wilkes-Barre, Passaic, and
Jacksonville-may be taken as more or less representative of the
country as a whole in the matter of family status of the eight-andone-half million working women in the United States. The fact
that the four cities studied-in the West, the East, and the Southhad the same problems connected with the working women, would
suggest their existence in every civic community in the country.
Additional evidence of the universal character of these problems
is the fact that the proportion of women gainfully employed did
not rise nor fall to any great extent through the presence or absence
of the so-called woman-employing industries. In every city and
town many women must earn a living, not only for themselves but
for dependents, and if they lack opportunities in the more desirable
directions they must enter any a venue of gainful employment that
may be available. Facts brought forth in this report. arrest the
attention of all persons interested in the question of family support
and care of children, since in the four communities almost twofifths of all the women who were 14 years of age and over were
gainfully employed. The importance of analyzing the relations of
working women to the family and to the community is apparent.
Interviews with women in stores, mills, and factories furnish
pathetic stories. Many women whose husbands work regularly
volunteer the information that their families could not live on the
husbands' earnings, to say nothing of extra comforts or advantages
for the children. Many a woman's reason for working is that she
may help her husband, son, or brother so that he may "get somewhere," however poor may be her own prospects; many another's
is the greater compulsion that invalid mother and little brothers
and sisters have no means of support but what she, the daughter, provides. There is remembered the case of a woman who had been a
widow for £our years and whose husband had been an invalid £or
five years before his death. She had five children, and at the time of ·
the visit two were too sickly to work and two were under 14 years
of age. Only one, a boy of 17, was able to help in the support of
the family. Such a situation is not unique, but it serves as an illustration of the kind of home responsibilities which many wageearning women are obliged to carry.
In general, so meager is the income of the average wage-earning
woman, so many are the demands upon it, whether she is married
or single and whether she is aiding in the support of others or not,
that very careful calculation is necessary to enable her to meet the
various industrial and personal exigencies whic.h arise. Home responsibilities of a financial and domestic nature in many cases com-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



plicate her existence beyond the possibility of individual adjustment. Accordingly, not until there shall be guaranteed to all working women a rate not only covering their living expenses but allowing some margin for dependents or savings for future emergencies,
and riot until shorter working hours for women prevent the expenditure of too much of their time and energy as wage earners, and
not until sufficient wage to support families is paid to men, will the
economic status of women in shops, mills, and factories be improved
and their health and happiness as individuals in the community be
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

No. 1. Proposed Employment of Women During the War in the Industries ot Niagara
Falls, N. Y., 16 pp. 1918.
No. 2. Labor Laws for Women in Industries in Indiana. 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 1019. 46 pp. 1919.
*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 States. 4 pp. 1919.
*No. 8. Women in the Government Service. 37 pp. 1920.
•No. 9. Home Work in Bridgrport, Conn. 35 pp. 1920.
•No. 10. Hofolo.and Conditions of Work tor Women in Industry in Virginia. 82 pp.
No. 11.
*No. 12.
No. 18.
•No. 14.
•No. 15.
*No. 16.
No. 17.
No. 18.
No. 19.
•No. 20.
No. 21.
•No. 22.
No. 23.
No. 24.
•No. 25.
No. 26,
No. 27.
No. 28.
No. 29.
No. 30.
No. 31.
No. 32.
No. 33.
No. 34.
No. 35.
No. 36.
No. 37.
No. 38.
No. 39.
No. 40.
No. 41.
No. 42.
No. 43.
No. 44.
No. 45.
No. 46.
No. 47.
No. 48.
No. 49.
No. 50.
No. 51.
No. 52.
No. 53.
No. 54.
No. 55.
No. 56.
No. 57.
No. 58.
No. 59.
No. 60.
No. 61.

Women Street Car Conductors and Ticket Agents. 90 pp. 1920.
The New Position of- Women in Ameriean Industry. 158 pp. 1920.
Industrial Opportunities and Training for Women and Girls. 48 pp. 1920.
A Physiological Basia for tlle Shorter Working Day tor Women. 20 pp. 1921.
Some Effects of Legislation Limiting Hours of Work for Women. 26 pp. 1921.
See Bulletin 40.
Women's Wages in Kansas. 104 pp. 1921.
Health Problems of Women in Industry. 11 pp. 1921.
Iowa Women in Industry. 78 pp. 1922.
Negro Women in Industry. 65 pp, 1922.
Women in Rhode Island Industries. 73 pp. 1922.
Women in Georgia Industries. 89 pp. 1922.
The Family Status of Breadwinning Women. 43 pp. 1922.
Women in Maryland Industries. 96 pp. 1922.
Women in the Candy Industry in Chicago and St. Louis. 72 pp. 1923.
Women in Arkansas Industries. 86 pp. 1923.
The Occupational Progress of Women. 37 J?P· 1922.
Women's Contribution in the Field of Invention. 51 pp. 1923.
Women in Kentucky Industries. 114 pp. 1923.
The Share of Wage-Earning Women in Family Support. 170 pp. 1923.
What Industry Means to Women Workers. 10 pp. 1923.
Women in South Carolina Industries. 128 pp. 1923.
Proceedings of the Women's Industrial Conference. 190 pp. 1923.
Women in Alabama Industries. 86 pp. 1924.
Women in Missouri Industries. 127 pp. 1924.
Radio Talks on Women in Industry. 34 pp. 1924.
Women in New Jersey Indu~tries. 99 pp. 1924.
Married Women in Industry. 8 pp. 1924.
Domestic Workers and Their Employment Relations. 87 pp. 1924.
State Laws Affecting Working Women. 53 pp. 1924. (Revision of Bulletin
Family Status of Breadwinning Women in Four Selected Cities. 145 pp. 1925.
List of References on Minimum Wage for Women in the United States and
Canada. 42 pp. 1925.
Standards and Scheduled Hours of Work for Women in Industry. 68 pp. 1025.
Women in Ohio Industries. 137 pp. 1925.
Home Environment and Employment Opportunities of Women in Coal-Mine
Workers Families. 61 pp. 1925.
Facts About Working Women-A Graphic Presentation Based on Census Statistics. 64 pp. 1925.
Women in the Fruit-Growing and Canning Industri in the State of Washington.
228 pp. 1926.
Women in Oklahoma Industries. 118 pp. 1926.
Women Workers and Family Support. 10 pp. 1925.
Effects of Applied Research Upon the Employment Opportunities of American
Women. 54 pp. 1926.
Women in Illinois Industries. 108 pp. 1926.
Lost Time and Labor Turnover in Cotton Mills. 203 pp. 1926.
The Status of Women in the Government Service in 1925. 103 pp. 1926.
Changing Jobs. 12 PD, 1926.
Women in Mississippi Industries. 89 pp. 1926.
Women in Tennessee Industries. 120 pp. 1927.
Women Workers and Industrial Poisons. 5 pp. 1926.
Women in Delaware Industries. 156 pp. 1927.
Short Talks About Working Women. 24 pp. 1927.
Industrial Accidents to Women in New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin. (In press.) •
Minimum Wage Laws; The History of Their Development in the United States,
1912 to 1925.
Annual Reports of the Dinictor, 1919•, 1920•, 1921 •, 1922, 1923,
1925, 1926.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis