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Gender and transnationality among Welsh tinplate workers in Pittsburgh: The Hattie Williams Affair, 1895

Jones, William David and Lewis, Ronald L. 2007. Gender and transnationality among Welsh tinplate workers in Pittsburgh: The Hattie Williams Affair, 1895. Labor History 48 (2) , pp. 175-194. 10.1080/00236560701224890

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Before 1890, Wales was the world's leading producer of tinplate, and the United States was its primary customer. With passage of the McKinley tariff on tinplate that year, however, the industry entered a vigorous expansion in the US but went into a steep decline in Wales. Underemployed tinplate workers in Wales migrated to the US, where their skills were now in high demand, and in the process created extensive occupational networks and a transnational niche community. Grounded in the nineteenth-century ideological ideals of female domesticity, the male breadwinner, and the family wage, Welsh tinplate men hoped to achieve these middle-class gender aspirations by completely removing women from the mills in America. That goal was challenged in 1895 when the Monongahela Tin Plate Works in Pittsburgh employed Hattie Williams, an immigrant woman with experience in the Welsh tin mills, to train American women for the work. Almost instantaneously a storm of protest arose from Welsh tinplate workers on both sides of the Atlantic. An analysis of the polemical discourse generated by this episode sheds light on the gendered migration experience of a small, highly skilled transatlantic niche community, and the lines of internal fragmentation which undermined its continuity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
E History America > E11 America (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0023-656X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:59

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