MARC Museum Presents – Poor but honest and industrious: Business women in the Piedmont, 1865 to 1900
The Museum and Archives of Rockingham County (MARC) will host “Poor but honest and industrious: Business women in the Piedmont, 1865 to 1900,” a lecture by Dr. Angela Robbins, on March 29 at 6 p.m.
In the first few decades after the Civil War, the employment of women increased dramatically in North Carolina. Prior to 1900, a larger number of white women in cities of the North Carolina Piedmont were self-employed as dressmakers, milliners, shopkeepers, and boarding house operators than worked as teachers or in the rapidly expanding tobacco and textile industries. Widowed, never married, and divorced women often served as the primary providers for their families. Married businesswomen maintained interdependent relationships with, or sometimes completely supported, husbands who could not provide reliable support. Some of the Piedmont’s businesswomen worked temporarily or seasonally, contributing to a family income during periods of economic instability and when men struggled to earn a living, while others established careers and carried on their businesses for many years. These women often provided not only sustenance to their families but their earnings also supported a comfortable middle-class lifestyle complete with servants. This examination of their lives and labors reveals how women carefully negotiated the demands of white womanhood – particularly that of economic dependency – while earning a living.
This program is made possible by funding from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The speaker, Angela Robbins received her Ph.D. in US History from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she specialized in women’s history and attained a minor in Atlantic World Studies. Her presentations for the Road Scholars program are based on her dissertation research and examine strategies employed by women in the North Carolina Piedmont to support themselves and their families in the unstable post-Civil War economy. Angela completed her MA in Museum Studies at UNC-G in 2002, and has worked in education and collections management at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, the Greensboro Historical Museum, Blandwood Mansion, and the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts. She holds a BS in Middle Grades Education, and was a teacher for the Guilford County Schools from 1993 to 1999.
The program will be held at the MARC, located in the historic Wentworth courthouse, 1068 N.C. Highway 65 in Wentworth. The event is free and open to the public.