In a House Divided, 1850-1890
Side by Side Side by Side: Female
"Monday washing as usual."
Clarissa S. Burgess, Galesburg area, May 1, 1869.

"Lovisa is sitting working on a quilt...She also knits stockings and sews clothes both for the family and others."
P.M. Sall, Andover, 1871.

"A cultivated taste will express itself in all its surroundings from the selection and fitting of a calico dress to the pictures upon the walls and the statuettes on the brackets."
Mrs. Sarah C. Harris, Galena, ca. 1874.

"Some times everything annoys me so, and try ever so much, I cannot be patient with the children as a mother should. Then it seem as if they of course thought of every prank and ugly thing they ever knew, and when the last one is stowed away to sleep, Oh! what a relief."
Fedelia B. Westerfield, Wilmette, Tues. Feb. 5, 1878.

"I rose early and helped get breakfast. Mary came up early. We cleaned the sitting room, hall and closet."
Alice Elizabeth Schall, Port Byron area, Mon. Nov. 8, 1880.

Not all men and women kept to their respective roles. In farm families, women sometimes helped with the field work and men sometimes helped around the house. Even in town, women sometimes became part of the labor force. Many women were employed as teachers or factory workers. In the 1870 Illinois census, over 7,000 women were listed in occupations that could be classed as independent businesswomen. Almost 80% were dressmakers, milliners, and seamstresses, occupying trades that still fit within the boundaries of acceptable female behavior at that time. Other prominent women's trades were boardinghouse keeper and teacher of music.

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© Illinois State Museum 31-Dec-96