Working Life of Women in the Seventeenth Century


STUDIES IN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL SCIENCE Edited by The Director of the London School of Economics and Political Science No. 56 in the series of Monographs by writers connected With the London School of Economics and Political Science ------------------------------------ THE WORKING LIFE OF WOMEN IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY ------------------------------------------------------------------------ WORKING LIFE OF WOMEN IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY BY ALICE CLARK Shaw Research Student of the London School of Economics and Political Science LONDON: GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS, LTD. NEW YORK : E. P. DUTTON & CO. 1919 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ DEDICATED TO MY FATHER AND MOTHER ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PREFACE THE investigation, whose conclusions are partly described in the following treatise, was undertaken with a view to discovering the actual circumstances of women’s lives in the Seventeenth Century. It is perhaps impossible to divest historical enquiry from all personal bias, but in this case the bias has simply consisted in a conviction that the conditions under which the obscure mass of women live and fulfil their duties as human beings, have a vital influence upon the destinies of the human race, and that a little knowledge of what these conditions have actually been in the past will be of more value to the sociologist than many volumes of carefully elaborated theory based on abstract ideas. The theories with which I began this work of investigation as to the position occupied by women in a former social organisation have been abandoned, and have been replaced by others, which though still only held tentatively have at least the merit of resting solely on ascertained fact. If these theories should in turn have to be discarded when a deeper understanding of history becomes possible, yet the picture of human life presented in the following pages will not entirely lose its value. The picture cannot pretend to be complete. The Seventeenth Century provides such a wealth of historical material that only a small fraction could be examined, and though the selection has been as representative as possible, much that is of the greatest importance from the point of

Alice Clark

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