Laura GowingOct 5, 2023
Women and Work in Seventeenth-Century London
Cambridge University Press 2021
Ingenious Trade: Women and Work in Seventeenth-Century London (Cambridge University Press, 2021) by Dr. Laura Gowing recovers the intricate stories of the young women who came to London in the late seventeenth century to earn their own living, most often with the needle, and the mistresses who set up shops and supervised their apprenticeships. Through an intensive and creative archival reconstruction, Dr. Gowing recovers the significance of apprenticeship in the lives of girls and women, and puts women's work at the heart of the revolution in worldly goods.
Tracking women through city archives, Dr. Gowing reveals the extent and complexity of their contracts, training and skills, from adolescence to old age. In contrast to the informal, unstructured and marginalised aspects of women's work, this book uses legal records and guild archives to reconstruct women's negotiations with city regulations and bureaucracy. It shows single women, wives and widows establishing themselves in guilds both alongside and separate to men, in a network that extended from elites to paupers and around the country.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.