Radicals of the Worst sort
Focusing on the textile workers' strikes of 1882 and 1912, Ardis Cameron examines class and gender formation as drawn from the experiences of working-class women in the textile manufacturing town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. She explores the role of women in worker militancy from the perspective of the neighborhood and argues for the importance of female networks and associational life in working-class culture and politics.
Radicals of the Worst Sort is a study of domination and power, constructed not only at the level of economics and politics but also at the level of social perception and conceptualization.
It thus provides the basis for a new set of generalizations about the lives of nineteenth-century factory women in their jobs and communities. This exciting history illuminates ongoing debates about the dynamic role of gender and challenges shifting perceptions and definitions of what a "woman" should be. Cameron shows that unionized women who fought for equality were "radicals of the worst sort" (as one mill officer tagged them) because they rebelled against traditional economic and sexual hierarchies, providing alternative models for turn-of-the-century women.
Radicals of the Worst Sort includes oral histories of former strikers in the famous Bread and Roses strike of 1912. Four full-color maps show Cameron's meticulous documentation of the nationalities of every Lawrence family living in the multicultural neighborhoods featured in her book.
"Cogent, thought-provoking, well-written, and an obvious choice for any undergraduate or graduate library collection in women's or labor history."
A Choice book of the year.
"Will be greeted as a major contribution to a rich and rapidly expanding area of research on working women."
"All those Rush Limbaughs who wax nostalgic about the good old days, when men controlled paychecks and contented housewives knew their place, should be force-fed this harsh account of the way things really were for great-grandma--especially on the picket line."
Leonard Bushkoff, Boston Globe