Class and gender in the Toronto printing trades, 1870-1914

Burr, Christina Ann (1992) Class and gender in the Toronto printing trades, 1870-1914. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine class and gender relations in the Toronto printing trades during a period of intensive industrial capitalist growth between 1870 and 1914. Consistent with socialist feminism, it is argued that the experience of class cannot be comprehended without a consideration of gender relations. -- During the late nineteenth century segmentation and specialization occurred within the Toronto printing industry with technological innovations in the production process, the emergence of the daily press, and a proliferation of firms specializing in a product line or in a particular aspect of the production process. Throughout the period from 1870 to 1914 male workers dominated the Toronto printing trades. Women were segregated in those jobs socially designated as unskilled, specifically, pressfeeding, and folding, stitching, and collating in the binderies. -- The bulk of the study focuses on printing-trades workers employed at the Methodist Book and Publishing House, a large Church-owned multi-faceted printing and bookbinding establishment. An analysis of a select group of printing-trades workers derived from the firm's extant payrolls for the fiscal years 1882-83 and 1890-91, and for the calendar year 1902, and identified by occupation through linkages with the city directories, revealed a hierarchical and gender division of labour typical of the broader late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Toronto printing industry. Developing the argument that to understand fully the complex interaction of patriarchy and capitalism we must go beyond the workplace and consider the family, the household economies of the sample group of Methodist Book Room workers were analysed using linkages between the decennial census manuscripts and the municipal tax assessments. The majority of Book Room workers studied lived in subsistence-level conditions and tended to rely on the income of one or more secondary wage earners. A breadwinner wage was a reality only for comparatively few skilled male printing-trades workers. -- In the latter part of the study, the trade unionism of Toronto printing-trades workers was explored. Male unionists in Toronto Typographical Union, Local 91 successfully defended their skilled-worker status with industrial capitalist incursions and effectively excluded women compositors from membership in the local typographical union. Considerable attention was also given to the organization of bookbinders, including the formation of the short-lived Women's Bindery Union. -- The study is thus an attempt at a convergence between socialist feminist theory, and working-class and labour-history, feminist history, and family history.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/867
Item ID: 867
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [410]-430
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 1992
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Ontario--Toronto
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Printing industry--Employees--Labor unions--Ontario--Toronto--History; Women bookbinders--Ontario--Toronto; Women printers--Ontario--Toronto; Women--Ontario--Toronto--Social conditions

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