Working Daughters, Wives, Mothers, Sisters, Widows

  • Anna Bellavitis


The constant underestimation of female activity, in the quantitative sources of both the early modern age and the last two centuries, and the parallel overestimation of male work have compelled historians to use other sources, of a ‘qualitative’ kind. The use of sources of various kinds has made it possible to identify and quantify female activities, and has also shown that there was no direct and predictable link between work, marital status, age and number of children. Women reacted to the opportunities of the labour market, exploiting every possibility granted to them to earn a living and support their families.


  1. Abreu-Ferreira, D. (2002). Work and Identity in Early Modern Portugal: What Did Gender Have to Do with It? Journal of Social History, 35(4), 859–887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ågren, M. (Ed.). (2017). Making a Living, Making a Difference. Gender and Work in Early Modern European Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Bellavitis, A., & Piccone Stella, S. (Eds.). (2008). Flessibili/precarie. Special Issue of Genesis, VII, 1–2.Google Scholar
  4. Bellavitis, A., Filippini, N. M., & Sega, M. T. (Eds.). (1990). Perle e impiraperle. Un lavoro di donne a Venezia tra ‘800 e’900. Venice: Arsenale.Google Scholar
  5. Cavallo, S. (2006). Métiers apparentés. Barbiers-chirurgiens et artisans du corps à Turin (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècle). Histoire Urbaine, 15, 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chojnacka, M. (2001). Working Women of Early Modern Venice. Baltimore/London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Collins, J. B. (1989). The Economic Role of Women in Seventeenth-Century France. French Historical Studies, 16(2), 436–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Earle, P. (1989). The Female Labour Market in London in the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries. Economic History Review, s. II,42(3), 328–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Erickson, A. M. (2008). Married Women’s Occupations in Eighteenth-Century London. Continuity and Change, 23(2), 267–307.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Garden, M. (1970). Lyon et les Lyonnais au XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Les Belles Lettres.Google Scholar
  11. Groppi, A. (2002). Une ressource légale pour une pratique illégale. Les juifs et les femmes contre la corporation des tailleurs dans la Rome pontificale (XVIIe–XVIIIe siècles). In R. Ago (Ed.), The Value of the Norm/Il valore delle norme (pp. 137–162). Rome: Biblink.Google Scholar
  12. Humphries, J., & Sarasúa, C. (2012). Off the Record: Reconstructing Women’s Labor Force Participation in the European Past. Feminist Economics, 18(4), 39–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hunt, M. (1996). The Middling Sort: Commerce, Gender and the Family in England (pp. 1680–1780). Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kuklo, C. (2005). Les femmes seules chefs de famille dans la société urbaine à la fin de l’Ancienne Pologne. In M. Wilska (Ed.), La femme dans la société médiévale et moderne (pp. 211–235). Warsaw: Institut d’histoire Académie polonaise des sciences.Google Scholar
  15. Palazzi, M. (1990). “Tessitrici, serve, treccole”. Donne, lavoro e famiglia a Bologna nel Sette- cento. In S. Cavaciocchi (Ed.), La donna nell’economia, secc. XIII–XVIII, Atti delle Settimane di studi dell’Istituto internazionale di Storia economica F. Datini di Prato (pp. 359–376). Florence: Le Monnier.Google Scholar
  16. Pelaja, M. (1990). Relazioni personali e vincoli di gruppo. Il lavoro delle donne nella Roma dell’Ottocento. Memoria, 30, 45–54.Google Scholar
  17. Polónia, A. (2009). Women’s Participation in Labour and Business in the European Maritime Societies in the Early Modern Period. A Case Study (Portugal, 16th Century). In S. Cavaciocchi (Ed.), La famiglia nell’economia europea, secc. XIII–XVIII, Atti delle Settimane di studio della Fondazione Istituto internazionale di Storia economica F. Datini di Prato (pp. 705–719). Florence: Firenze University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Ramiro Moya, F. (2012). Mujeres y trabajo en la Zaragoza del siglo XVIII. Zaragoza: Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza.Google Scholar
  19. Schmidt, A. (2009). Women and Guilds: Corporations and Female Labour Market Participation in Early Modern Holland. Gender and History, 21(1), 170–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schmidt, A., & van Nederveen Meerkerk, E. (2012). Reconsidering the “First Male-Breadwinner Economy”: Women’s Labor Force Participation in the Netherlands, 1600–1900. Feminist Economics, 18(4), 69–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Shepard, A. (2015). Accounting for Oneself: Worth, Status, and the Social Order in Early Modern England. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. van Nederveen Meerkerk, E. (2008a). Couples Cooperating? Dutch Textile Workers, Family Labour and the ‘Industrious Revolution’, c. 1600–1800. Continuity and Change, 23, 237–266.Google Scholar
  23. van Nederveen Meerkerk, E. (2008b). Textile Workers, Gender, and the Organization of Production in the Pre-industrial Dutch Republic. In M. Cassidy-Welch & P. Sherlock (Eds.), Practices of Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (pp. 215–234). Turnhout: Brepols.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wiesner, M. E. (1996). Gender and the Worlds of Work. In B. Scribner (Ed.), Germany. A New Social and Economic History, vol. 1, 1450–1630 (pp. 209–232). London/New York/Sidney/Auckland: Arnold.Google Scholar
  25. Wiesner, M. E. (1999). Having Her Own Smoke. Employment and Independence for Singlewomen in Germany, 1400–1750. In J. M. Bennett & A. M. Froide (Eds.), Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250–1800 (pp. 192–216). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  26. Zucca Micheletto, B. (2008). Lavoro, figli ed economia domestica nella Torino di Antico Regime. Genesis, VII(1–2), 165–192.Google Scholar
  27. Zucca Micheletto, B. (2013). Reconsidering Women’s Labor Force Participation Rates in Eighteenth-Century Turin. Feminist Economics, 19(4), 200–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Bellavitis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of RouenRouenFrance

Personalised recommendations