cover of book

Putting Their Hands on Race: Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers
by Danielle T. Phillips-Cunningham
Rutgers University Press, 2020
Paper: 978-1-9788-0046-5 | Cloth: 978-1-9788-0047-2 | eISBN: 978-1-9788-0049-6
Library of Congress Classification HD6072.2.U5P46 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 331.624150730903

Winner of the 2020 Sarah A. Whaley Book Prize from the National Women's Studies Association

Putting Their Hands on Race offers an important labor history of 19th and early 20th century Irish immigrant and US southern Black migrant domestic workers. Drawing on a range of archival sources, this intersectional study explores how these women were significant to the racial labor and citizenship politics of their time. Their migrations to northeastern cities challenged racial hierarchies and formations. Southern Black migrant women resisted the gendered racism of domestic service, and Irish immigrant women strove to expand whiteness to position themselves as deserving of labor rights. On the racially fractious terrain of labor, Black women and Irish immigrant women, including Victoria Earle Matthews, the “Irish Rambler”, Leonora Barry, and Anna Julia Cooper, gathered data, wrote letters and speeches, marched, protested, engaged in private acts of resistance in the workplace, and created women’s institutions and organizations to assert domestic workers’ right to living wages and protection.
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