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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Women  in the Printing Trades., by Various

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Title: Women  in the Printing Trades.
       A Sociological Study.

Author: Various

Editor: James Ramsay MacDonald

Release Date: March 8, 2013 [EBook #42275]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Odessa Paige Turner and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
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from the Google Print project.)




MISS IRWIN, and Others.




Transcriber's note: Original spelling variants have not been standardized.
"It should also be noted that slight errors of a few farthings in the additions have crept into the totals of some of the columns, but as they do not affect the accuracy of the wage figures the Appendix has been copied exactly as it was published." (Appendix VI.)























My only qualification for writing this preface is the circumstance that, as a representative of the Royal Economic Society, I attended the meetings of the Committee appointed to direct and conduct the investigations of which the results are summarised in the following pages. From what I saw and heard at those meetings I received the impression that the evidence here recorded was collected with great diligence and sifted with great care. It seems to constitute a solid contribution to a department of political economy which has perhaps not received as much attention as it deserves.

Among the aspects of women's work on which some new light has been thrown, is the question why women in return for the same or a not very different amount of work should often receive very much less wages. It is a question which not only in its bearing on social life is of the highest practical importance, but also from a more abstract point of view is of considerable theoretical interest, so far as it seems to present the paradox of entrepreneurs paying at very different rates for factors of production which are not so different in efficiency.

The question as stated has some resemblance to the well-known demand for an explanation which Charles II. preferred to the Royal Society: there occurs the preliminary question whether the circumstance to be explained exists. The alleged disproportion between the remuneration of men and women is indeed sometimes only apparent, or at least appears to be greater than it is really. Often, however, it is real and great where it is not apparent.

On the one hand, in many cases in which at first sight women[Pg vi] seem to be doing the same work as men for less pay, it is found on careful inquiry, that they are not doing the same work. "The same work nominally is not always the same work actually," as the Editor reminds us (Chapter IV. par. 1). "Men feeders, for instance, carry formes and do little things about the machine which women do not do." In this and other ways men afford to the employer a greater "net advantageousness," as Mr. Sidney Webb puts it in his valuable study on the "Alleged Differences in the Wages paid to Men and to Women for similar Work" (Economic Journal, Vol. I. pp. 635 et seq.). The examples of this phenomenon adduced by Mr. Webb, and in the evidence before the Royal Commission on Labour, are supplemented by these records. To instance one of the less obvious ways in which a difference in net advantageousness makes itself felt, employers say: "It does not pay to train women: they would leave us before we got the same return for our trouble as we get from men." At the same time it is to be noticed in many of these cases that though the work of women is less efficient, it is not so inferior as their pay. For instance, a Manchester employer "estimated that a woman was two-thirds as valuable in a printer's and stationer's warehouse as a man, and she was paid 15s. or 20s. to his 33s.," (p. 47, note).

In other cases the difference between the remuneration of men and women for similar work is not obvious because they work in different branches of industry. For example, only five instances of women being employed as lithographic artists are on record (Chapter IV. par. 1). Other branches of the printing trade are as exclusively women's work. Such data afford no direct and exact comparison between the remuneration of the two classes in relation to the work done by them respectively. As Mr. Webb concludes, the inferiority of women's wages cannot be gathered "from a comparison of the rates for identical work, for few such cases exist, but rather from a comparison of the standards of remuneration in men's[Pg vii] and women's occupations respectively." "Looked at in this light," he continues, "it seems probable that women's work is usually less highly paid than work of equivalent difficulty and productivity done by men." As Mrs. Fawcett points out in an important supplement to Mr. Webb's article (Economic Journal, Vol. II. p. 174), women are crowded into classes of industry which are less remunerative than those open to men.

Recognising the fact of different remuneration for the same amount of work, we have next to consider the causes. It is evident that the sort of explanation offered by Adam Smith for difference of wages in different employments will not avail much in the case with which we are dealing. The lower remuneration of women is not brought about by way of compensation for the greater "agreeableness" or other pleasurable incident or perquisite of their tasks. Possibly we might refer to this head, as well as to others, the circumstance that women having in prospect the hopes of domestic life are likely to take less interest in their trade than men do who cast in their lot for life, if this difference in future prospects is attended with a difference in the effort of attention given to work in the present. But doubtless the explanation is to be found chiefly not in compensation produced by the levelling action of competition, but in the absence of competition between men and women—in the existence of monopoly whether natural or artificial, to use Mill's distinction (Political Economy, Vol. II. Chapter XIV.), together with custom and what Mill calls "the unintended effect of general social regulations."

A natural monopoly is constituted by the superior strength of man, the occasional exercise of which, as just noticed, entitles him to some superiority of pay for work which at first sight may appear almost identical with that of women. The experience recorded in the following pages does not afford any expectation that this kind of superiority tends to vanish. "There is an almost unanimous chorus of opinion that women's work as compositors is so inferior to men's that it does not[Pg viii] pay in the long run" (Chapter IV.). Speaking of the physiological differences between men and women in relation to their work, the Editor concludes that "when all false emphasis and exaggeration have been removed a considerable residuum of difference must remain."

Custom and the somewhat capricious sense of decorum counts for more than might have been expected in restricting women to certain industries, and accordingly, on the principle emphasised by Mrs. Fawcett, depressing their wages. "I know my place, and I'm not going to take men's work from them," said a female operative to an employer who wanted her to varnish books (Chapter IV.). "Why, that is men's work, and we shouldn't think of doing it," was the answer given by forewomen and others to the question why they did not turn their hands to simple and easy processes which were being done by men (Chapter V.).

Among artificial monopolies must be placed that which is constituted by legislation. The Factory Laws, of which a lucid summary is given (Chapter VI. 1), impose certain conditions on the work of women which, it may be supposed and has been asserted, place them at a sensible disadvantage in their competition with men, who are free from those restrictions. But the evidence now collected goes to prove that the disadvantage occasioned to women in their competition with men by the Factory Acts is not appreciable; thus confirming the conclusions obtained by the Committee which the British Association appointed to consider this very question (Report, 1903). The evidence of the large majority of employers in the printing trade is in favour of the Acts; the evidence of employees is almost unanimous. Of a hundred and three employers "not half-a-dozen remembered dismissing women in consequence of the new enactment" (Chapter VI. 2). Of a hundred and three employers, who expressed an opinion, twenty-six stated that in their opinion legislation had not affected women's labour at all, sixty considered it to have[Pg ix] been beneficial, and seventeen looked on all legislation as grandmotherly and ridiculous (p. 82). The opinion of the employers is much influenced by the experience that "after overtime the next day's work suffers." The still stronger feeling of the workers in favour of the Factory Acts is partly based on the same fact: "Long hours," said one, "don't do any good, for they mean that you work less next day: if you work all night, then you are so tired that you have to take a day off; you have gained nothing" (p. 86). Upon the whole the moderate conclusion appears to be that "except in a few small houses the employment of women as compositors has not been affected by the Factory Acts" (p. 75). What little evidence there is to the contrary is exhibited by the Editor with creditable candour (p. 80). It is admitted that a "slight residuum of night work" may have been transferred to male hands.

Trades unionism forms another species of "artificial monopoly," the organisation of men in the printing trades being much stronger than that of women. The difference is partly accounted for by the fact, already noticed in other connections, that woman having an eye to marriage is not equally wedded to her trade. Some frankly admit that "marriage is sure to come along, and then they will work in factories and workshops no longer" (p. 42). Whatever the cause, it appears from the Editor's historical retrospect that women's unions have not flourished in the trades under consideration. All attempts to organise women in the printing trade proper, as distinguished from the bookbinding industry, have failed. Even the Society of Women Employed in Bookbinding, though organised by Mrs. Emma Paterson, seems to have had only a moderate success. Thus the men unionists have had their way in arranging that their standard wage should not be lowered by the influx of cheap labour offered by women.

Some unions indeed admit women on equal terms with men, with less advantage to the former than might have been expected. A regulation of this sort adopted by the London[Pg x] Society of Compositors is followed by the result that "it is practically impossible for any woman to join the society" (p. 28). At Perth a few years ago, when women began to be employed on general bookwork and setting up newspaper copy, the men's union decided that the women must either be paid the same rates as the men or be got rid of altogether (p. 46). One general result of such primâ facie equalitarian regulations is probably to promote that crowding of women into less remunerative occupations which was above noticed as a cardinal fact of the situation. It is for this reason apparently that Mrs. Fawcett does not welcome the principle that "women's wages should be the same as men's for the same work." "To encourage women under all circumstances to claim the same wages as men for the same work would be to exclude from work altogether all those women who were industrially less efficient than men" (see the article by Mrs. Fawcett referred to in the Economic Journal, Vol. III. p. 366, and compare her article in that Journal, Vol. II. p. 174, already cited).

Of course it may be argued that, in view of the circumstance that women workers are often subsidised by men and of other incidents of family life, to permit the unrestricted competition of men with women would tend to lower the remuneration and degrade the character of labour as a whole. Without expressing an opinion on this matter, seeking to explain rather than to justify the cardinal fact that the industrial competition between men and women is very imperfect, one may suggest that it is favoured by another element of monopoly. The employer in a large business has some of the powers proper to monopoly. As Professor Marshall says (in a somewhat different connection) "a man who employs a thousand others is in himself an absolutely rigid combination to the extent of one thousand units in the labour market." This consideration may render it easier to understand how it is possible for certain employers to give effect to the dispositions which are attributed to them in the[Pg xi] following passages: "Conservative notions about women's sphere, and chivalrous prejudices about protecting them, influence certain employers in determining what work they ought to do" (p. 52). "A rigid sense of propriety based on a certain amount of good reason, seems to determine many employers to separate male from female departments" (p. 53).

A notice of this subject would be inadequate without reference to the relation between the use of machinery and the competition of women against men. In some cases the cheapness of women's work averts the introduction of machinery. "One investigator whilst being taken over certain large printing works was shown women folding one of the illustrated weekly papers. Folding machines were standing idle in the department, and she was told that these were used by the men when folding had to be done at times when the Factory Law prohibited women's labour" (p. 98). A well-known bookbinder said: "If women would take a fair price for work done it would not be necessary to employ machinery." In the Warrington newspaper offices the cheapness of women's labour makes it unnecessary to introduce linotypes (pp. 46 and 98). On the other hand, in the case of bookbinding, the employment of machinery makes it possible for the less skilled and lower-paid women to do work formerly done by men (p. 48). But the relations are not in general so simple. Rather, as the Editor remarks, "what really happens is an all-round shifting of the distribution of labour power and skill, and a rearrangement of the subdivision of labour" (p. 48). The cheerful assumption proper to abstract economics, that labour displaced by the introduction of machinery can turn to some other employment, is seldom, it is to be feared, so perfectly realised as in the case of the bookbinders below mentioned (p. 48, note): "There was much gloom among the men when the rounding and backing machine came in, but though profitable work was taken away from the 'rounders' and 'backers' they had more 'lining up' and other work to do in consequence, so nobody was turned off."

[Pg xii]

So far I have adverted to only one of the problems which are elucidated by this investigation. A sense of proportion might require that I should dwell on other topics of great interest such as home work and the work of married women, the technique of the industries connected with printing which the Editor has described minutely, and the statistics relating to women's wages, in the treatment of which a master hand, that of Mr. A. L. Bowley, may be recognised. But I must not go on like the chairman who with a lengthy opening address detains an audience eager to hear the principal speaker. I will only in conclusion express the hope that the Committee which has obtained such useful results may be enabled to prosecute further investigations with like diligence.



The investigation upon which this book is based was undertaken by the Women's Industrial Council; the Royal Statistical Society, the Royal Economic Society, and the Hutchinson Trustees consenting to be represented on the Committee responsible for the work. Upon this Committee, the Women's Industrial Council was represented by Miss A. Black, Miss C. Black, Mrs. Hammond, Mr. Stephen N. Fox, and Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald; the Royal Statistical Society by Mr. J. A. Baines; the Royal Economic Society by Professor F. Y. Edgeworth, and the Hutchinson Trustees by Mr. A. L. Bowley. Mrs. Hogg also represented the Women's Industrial Council up to her death in 1900.

The Committee takes this opportunity of thanking the Hutchinson Trustees for their liberal financial assistance, and of expressing its appreciation of the services so carefully and enthusiastically performed by the investigators, especially those of Mrs. Hammond, who is mainly responsible for the work done in London; of Mrs. Oakeshott, who assisted Mrs. Hammond; of Mrs. Muirhead, who supplied information about Birmingham; of Miss Harrison, who investigated Bristol and the South-West, and Leeds and district; and of Miss Irwin and Mr. Jones, who were in charge of the Scottish enquiries. To the many employers, Trade Union secretaries, and others who were so willing to give assistance to the investigators, the Committee also desires to express its gratitude.

Whoever has had experience in collecting and sifting such evidence as is dealt with in this investigation knows how difficult it is to arrive at proper values and just conclusions. And women's trades seem to offer special difficulties of this[Pg xvi] kind. There are no Trade Union conditions, no general trade rules, no uniformity in apprenticeships, so far as the woman worker is concerned, and the variations in conditions are most striking, even between neighbouring employers drawing their supply of labour from practically the same district, though perhaps not from the same social strata. That difference in strata is in some cases a predominating factor in women's employment, and it everywhere confuses economic and industrial considerations. When to this irregularity of conditions is added a reticence as to "one's personal affairs," due partly to women's lack of the sense that their position is of public interest, and also partly to an unwillingness shown by many employers to disclose the facts of cheap labour, it can readily be seen that the Committee had to exercise the greatest care in its work.

When the investigation was begun there was an idea that it should be the commencement of an enquiry into women's labour in every trade of any importance, but whether that will be carried on or not will now depend on the reception of this volume and on what further financial assistance is forthcoming. The group of trades selected for first treatment shows neither an overwhelming preponderance of women nor a very marked increase in the employment of women. But it illustrates in a specially normal way the main problems of women's labour under ordinary modern conditions. Upon one important point this group does not throw much light. The employment of Women in the Printing Trades does not show to any satisfactory extent the family influence of married and unmarried women wage earners. What information the Committee was able to gather is dealt with in its proper place, but careful enquiries will have to be made in the highly-organised factory industries before that wealth of fact can be obtained from which conclusions can be drawn, with details properly filled in, regarding the influence of women's earnings upon family incomes.

In other respects these trades have yielded most interesting[Pg xvii] information. They illustrate the industrial mind and capacity of women in the different aspects of training, rates of pay, competition with men, influence of machinery, effect of legislation, and so on. These subjects are dealt with under separate chapters, and though it has been the chief aim of the Committee to present well-sifted and reliable facts, it has stated some conclusions which are most obvious, and which appear to be necessary, if bare figures and dry industrial data are to carry any sociological enlightenment. The volume is therefore offered not as a mere description of industrial organisation, but as a study in sociology which indicates a path ahead as well as points out where we stand at the moment.

Miss Clementina Black is responsible for the description of the Trades, Mr. A. L. Bowley for the Chapter on Wages, and Mr. Stephen Fox for the legal and historical part of that on Legislation. For the rest, the Editor is responsible.


The trades covered by this enquiry include a great number of processes, some brief account of which is necessary if the succeeding chapters are to be comprehensible. It will, perhaps, be the easiest way to follow the stages by which paper is converted into books and to return afterwards to such accessory matters as envelope making, relief stamping, lithography, etc.

Paper-making.—Paper-making is carried on mainly in the counties of Kent, Lancashire, Buckingham, Yorkshire, Fife, Lanark, Aberdeen and Midlothian, but mills are found scattered over the country where water is favourable to the manufacture.[1] In London, there is one mill only, and not more than thirteen women are employed in it. Of these the majority are occupied in sorting esparto grass, and throwing it by means of pitchforks into machines where the abundant dust is shaken out, and from which the grass is carried on moving bands to the vats where it is boiled into pulp. A few older married women are engaged in cutting rags, removing buttons, etc.; but at the present day paper is but rarely made from rags, and the rags so used are generally sorted and cut by machinery. This is an instance in which machinery has undoubtedly superseded the work of women; but, perhaps, few persons[Pg 2] will regret that an occupation so uninviting as the cutting up of old rags should be undertaken rather by a machine than by a human being. With the later processes in the manufacture of paper—the boiling, mixing, bleaching, and refining—women have nothing to do; but a few women are employed in "counting" the sheets of paper before they leave the mill.

[1] The Directory of Paper-makers for 1903 gives the following number of paper mills as being situated in the following counties:—Bucks, 16; Devon, 10; Durham, 9; Kent, 30; Lancashire, 44; Yorkshire, 27; Edinburgh, 17; Lanark, 9; Stirling, 8; Fife, 7; Aberdeen, 5; Dublin, 6.

The work of the women, who are time-workers at from 8s. to 10s. a week, requires no training. The working day begins at 6 a.m., an earlier hour than that of any other factory or shop dealt with in this enquiry. The machinery is kept in constant action, double shifts of men being employed, and when it becomes necessary to feed the machines with grass at night men do the work performed in the day by women.

Letter-press Printing.—The primary business of the "compositor" is to "set-up type," i.e., to arrange the separate movable types in required order for printing successive lines of words. These lines are then arranged in frames called chases, each of which containing the types is known as a forme; the formes are "locked up," that is, made firm by wooden or metal wedges called quoins, and are then carried to the press for a proof impression. The printed page passes on in the shape of proof to the "corrector," and from him to the author, and is then returned in order that corresponding alterations may be made in the placing of the type. Finally, when the whole corrected impression has been printed off, comes the "distributing"—the removal of the types from their places and re-sorting into the proper divisions in the "case." Were books the only form of printed matter, this description would cover the whole business of the compositor, but there are also handbills and newspapers—to say nothing of lithographic printing, which will be dealt with farther on. The printing of handbills, etc., and the printing of newspapers, require, each in its own way, a high degree of skill and experience, to which women, the vast majority of whom leave the trade comparatively young, seldom attain.

In the provinces, however, a few women are engaged upon the printing of weekly or bi-weekly newspapers; and in London, one establishment has been visited in which women regularly do "jobbing" or "display work"—terms which cover the printing of advertisements, posters, handbills, etc.—while at least two other firms employ each one girl upon such work.[Pg 3] "None of the other workers," it is reported, "seem to care to learn."

The difference between skilful and unskilful work in this department is far greater than an uninitiated person might suppose; and the attractiveness of a poster, advertisement or invitation card depends very largely upon the way in which the type is spaced.

In all printing houses employing women compositors, setting up, correcting, and distributing are done by women; in the Women's Printing Society women regularly "impose," that is, divide up the long galleys of type into pages and place the pages so that they may follow in proper order when the sheet is folded, and in another firm a woman was found who could impose; but as a general rule the "imposing" is the work of the man or men employed to lock-up and carry about the heavy formes. No instance has been found in which this latter work, which in some cases is extremely heavy, is done by women.

Bookbinding.—This trade covers at least two main divisions, and one of these is minutely subdivided into a great variety of processes. The first process is, in all cases, that of folding. All printed matter occupying more than a single page has to be so folded as to bring the pages into consecutive order, and this process is essentially the same whether the printed sheet be that of a book, a pamphlet, a magazine, or a newspaper. From the trade point of view, however, there is a distinction between the folding of matter intended to be bound up in a real book cover (book-folding) and matter which is not to be bound (printers' folding). As a general rule—liable, however, to many exceptions—book-folding is performed in a binder's shop and printers' folding in a printing house, whence the names. But many printers now have a regular binding department, and periodical or pamphlet work is on the other hand often folded in the workshop of the publisher's binder. The line of demarcation is therefore no very distinct one. Prospectus work is par excellence printers' folding, and so are such weekly papers as are still folded by hand.

Book-folding is done by women, of whom in theory nearly all, and in practice many, are regularly employed. The process is practically identical in both cases. Printers' folding is carried on in large firms chiefly by a regular staff; but in times of pressure "job hands" or "grass hands" are called in; and in[Pg 4] smaller workplaces job hands do the whole of the work. Great sheets of matter, fresh from the press, are distributed in thousands to the workers to be folded either by hand or by machine. In the latter case, the woman merely feeds the machine, taking care to lay the sheet in exactly the right place. In the former, she becomes practically a machine herself, so monotonous is the occupation. The sheet is folded once, twice, three, or even four times, as the case may be, on a fixed plan, and sometimes has to be cut with a long knife as well as folded. The various sheets of a book having been folded, the process of gathering follows. Each folder has received a fixed number (probably a thousand) copies of the same sheet, and when she has finished folding the gatherer places the sheets in piles of each "signature," e.g. the index letter which one observes on the first page of each sheet in a book, in regular order on a long table. She then walks up and down the side of this table collecting one copy of each sheet and so forming a complete book. The collection thus made passes from the gatherer to the collator, who runs over it, noting by means of the printer's "signature" that all the sheets are in order, and placing her mark on the book, thereby becoming responsible for its accuracy. In the case of illustrated books the process of placing comes at this stage. The plates to be inserted are "fanned out"—i.e., laid out in fan shape—each receives a narrow strip of paste at the back and is placed next, and stuck to, its proper page. This placing is sometimes done by the collator, sometimes by a separate hand. The whole process of collating is often omitted in the case of pamphlets and small work, and the sheets then pass straight from the folder to the stitcher or sewer. Of sewing or stitching there are many varieties. The threads of hand-sewn books generally pass through three bands of tape kept taut by being attached at one end to the table at which the worker sits and at the other to a horizontal bar above. Sometimes the book will have been prepared by the sawing of grooves in the back to receive the sewing. This sawing is done by men. Stitching machines vary greatly. The simplest kind merely inserts the unpleasant "staple-binder" of wire that is so large a factor in the rapid decomposition of cheap books. In these machines, one variety of which uses thread and knots it, the pamphlet or other work in hand is placed at a particular place in a kind of trough; the operator presses a[Pg 5] treadle and the wire is mechanically passed through and pressed flat. Other machines of a more complicated sort will sew with thread upon tapes. In this case one girl is required to superintend and a younger assistant to cut apart the books which are delivered by the machine fixed at intervals upon a long continuous tape. Such machines are worked by power and set going by the pressure of a treadle. Pamphlets or newspapers having neither "cover" nor "wrapper" are now finished—unless, indeed, inserts or insets are to be placed between the pages. These are those unattached advertisements which fall out upon the reader's knee on a first opening, and thereby certainly succeed in catching his attention, though not perhaps his approval. Magazines or paper-covered books are sometimes "wrappered" by women, a simple process consisting of glueing the back of each book and clapping on the cover. Bound books have end-papers added to them by women, who also paste down the projecting tapes to the fly-pages. At this stage the book passes into the hands of men to be touched no more by women, except perhaps in a few subsidiary processes. But since much debate has taken place over the allotment to men and women of other parts of the work, it becomes necessary to give a cursory glance at the further stages of a book's progress.

On leaving the women's hands the book—now no longer a collection of loose sheets but an entity—is placed in a machine to be "nipped," that is, to have the back pressed; then the edges are cut smooth in a "guillotine"; the back is glued upon muslin and rounded, and a groove is made, by hand or machine, at each side of the back, so that the cover may lie flat; this is called "backing," the covering boards and cloth are cut out and pasted together; the design and lettering are stamped upon them in the "blocking-room"; the books are "pasted down," that is, are fixed into their covers by means of pasting down the end leaves, and are "built up" in a large press. If the designs and lettering of the cover are to be gilded, the gold-leaf is laid on by hand according to the stamped-out pattern, which is then restamped, and any gold-leaf not firmly adhering is rubbed off with an old stocking. The stocking is burned in a crucible, and the precious remainder of the gold collected again. "Gold laying-on" is done by women; and the workers engaged in this task do nothing else. Much[Pg 6] dexterity is needed, the gold-leaf being apt to break or blow away at the slightest breath. One investigator describes as "seeming almost marvellous" the skill with which this difficult material is laid in exactly the right place by means of a knife. Women also "open-up," i.e., look through the books ready to be sent out to see that there are no flaws. Such is the life-history of the ordinary book as it comes from the publisher, but "publishers' binding" is not the only section of the binding trade, and is indeed regarded by the workers as "decidedly inferior" to "leather-work," which is emphatically distinguished as "bookbinding." Leather-binding is employed mainly for rebinding. It forms, as may be supposed, a comparatively small part of the whole trade, and is practically confined to three large firms in the West End, a few small places, and separate rooms in some general binding establishments. The chief difference of method lies in the better fixing together of back and cover, the "bound" book being laced into the cover, and in the presence of a "head-band," at top and bottom of the back. Books to be re-bound are picked to pieces by women and cleaned from glue, etc., re-folded, if necessary, collated, and after being rolled flat (by a man) are sewn at a hand press. Repairs to torn pages or plates and the removal of stains are also done by women. This last process demands great care and skill, "foxed" pages requiring to be dipped into a preparation of acid which destroys not only the objectionable stain but also the body of the paper, so that the leaf has to be newly sized and strengthened, and naturally needs very tender handling throughout this whole course of treatment. The best head-bands, too, are made by women by hand, but the head-bands of cheaper books—when they exist at all—are machine-made. Head-band makers form a special and extremely small class of workers.

A third branch of the trade is "vellum-binding," a name which covers the binding of all ledgers, account books, and bank books, whether bound in vellum or no. The workers engaged in this branch form a separate group, are rarely found on the premises of regular bookbinders, and work chiefly in a separate department in printing houses. The employments of women in vellum-binding are much the same as in publishers' binding; they fold and sew much in the usual manner, the only marked difference arising in the case of large day-books, etc.,[Pg 7] which are elaborately hand-sewn in frames, each section of the book having a separate guard of linen.

It is difficult to draw lines of demarcation between the various workers whose occupations have now been described. In large workplaces a worker will probably be kept at one minute process; the folder will do nothing but fold, the sewer will only sew, the collator only collate, and the inserter only insert. Some forewomen, however, think it better to give the women a change of employment. Gold layers-on and openers-up are always entirely apart from folders and sewers, but collators begin with folding and sewing, and in small houses sometimes combine one or both these processes with collating.

The divisions of work between men and women are not made upon any discernible principle of fitness, and except in the case of folding and sewing, which have belonged to women from time immemorial, the various processes began in the hands of men and have been gradually taken up by women. This gradual encroachment has been generally resented and often resisted by the men, and in May, 1893, an elaborate agreement was drawn up by the Bookbinding Trade Section of the London Chamber of Commerce representing the masters, and the secretaries of the men's unions representing the men working in the trade. The women workers were not represented or consulted. The agreement is as follows:—


London Consolidated Society; Bookbinders' and Machine Rulers' Consolidated Union, London Branch; Society of Day-working Bookbinders.

That this meeting of representatives of the Bookbinding Section of the London Chamber of Commerce, with representatives of the Journeymen Bookbinders' Trade Societies, deeming it desirable that a definition of bookbinding should be agreed upon for the delimitation of work to be paid for at recognised rates, hereby agrees that the following divisions or sub-divisions of labour be for the future recognised as the work of bookbinders or apprentices, taking the book from the time of[Pg 8] leaving the women after sewing, except wrappering, which is unaffected by this agreement:—

Forwarding, and the following sub-divisions of bookbinding:

Nipping, knocking down, or pressing.

Cutting books or magazines.

Colouring edges of books (where done indoors).

Cutting leather, except corners, and backs for flush work from sheep and roan.

Cutting cloth.

Cutting hollows and linings.

Cutting boards.

Bevelling boards.

Case making.

Pasting down and building up.

Flush work throughout.

Finishing throughout.

Assistant finishing throughout.

Blocking throughout.

Circuit and box work. (Bible trade.)

PROVIDED:—That the representatives of the journeymen agree that they will not make it a grievance if female or unskilled labour is placed upon:—

The rolling, pressing before sewing, sawing up, or papering of outboard work.

The laying on, washing up, or cleaning off of cloth work.

The varnishing of cloth or Bible work.

The paper mounts and pictures on cloth cases.

Taking work out of the press after pasting down, and opening up.

The carrying of loads of work about the workshop.

Further, that the representatives of the journeymen will not object to the introduction of unskilled labour upon cloth cutting, if the recognised rate of wages of 32s. per 48 hours be paid after a probationary period of twelve months, in which the novice may learn the work.

Owing to the difficulties of drafting a clause affecting the laying on in such a manner as to lay down a line of demarcation between cloth and leather work, it is hereby agreed to leave the subject of laying on in statu quo, upon the understanding that it shall not be the policy of the Trade Societies to interfere, except in the case of innovations upon existing custom.[2]

[2] This clause has been interpreted by the award given in March, 1903, by Mr. C. J. Stewart, the arbitrator appointed by the Board of Trade to settle a dispute in the trade regarding wages, hours, apprentices and piece work. The 6th clause in that award is as follows:——"That the right or practice existing with regard to female labour employed on wrappering and for laying on gold in case work, cloth or leather, or other material, in certain workshops in the trade, shall be made to apply to all workshops in the trade, it being agreed by the employers that no man exclusively employed in gold laying-on shall lose his employment by reason of the employment of women on such work."

[Pg 9]

This agreement not to be construed to the prejudice of the existing holders of situations.

Adopted by the Bookbinding Trade Section of the London Chamber of Commerce at its annual meeting on 7th May, 1893.


Ratified by the executives of the hereunder-mentioned Societies on May 30th, 1893, and signed on their behalf.

HENRY R. KING, Secretary, London Consolidated Society.

WILLIAM BOCKETT, Secretary, Day Working Bookbinders' Society.

THOMAS E. POWELL, Secretary, Bookbinders and Machine Rulers' Consolidated Union (London Branch).

Closely connected with vellum-binding are the processes of machine-ruling, numbering, paging and perforating.

Machine-ruling is the process by which lines are ruled for ledgers, invoices, etc. The machine employed resembles a hand-loom in appearance, and is in effect a framework in which pens are fixed at the required distances. Ink is conveyed into these from a pad of thick flannel above, and the page to be ruled lies on a broad band below. The re-inking of the flannel is in some cases effected by means of a reservoir and tap supplying a regulated flow, in others the ink is laid on from bowls of red or blue colour by means of a brush. Machines worked by a handle still survive in a few places, but as a general rule the machine is driven by power and the operator merely superintends, correcting the machine if it goes wrong, setting the pens and regulating the supply of ink. The newest machines require the services of neither "feeders" nor "wetters," and the simple old picturesque accessories, the cords, the wooden frame, the bowls of colour, are disappearing. Women are employed in some houses to feed the machines, which is purely[Pg 10] mechanical work; our investigators found four establishments in London in which women can rise to the higher position of "minder," and one other in which they are allowed to damp the flannel and partially "mind."

Numbering is the process by which consecutive figures are stamped upon cheques, bills, receipts, tickets, or other loose sheets. A machine worked by hand is employed, the number types changing automatically. The attention of the worker is required on three points only: the paper must be placed so as to bring the number into the right position; the machine must not be allowed to skip numbers at a jump—as it is inclined to do; and whenever an additional figure becomes necessary, a certain change must be made. The handle of the machine works up and down, and the process is different from that of stamping, to be described later. There are no power machines for numbering.

Numbering is said to try the eyes, and the working of a machine handle is considered bad for girls who have any weakness of the chest.

Paging is the process by which numbers are printed upon the pages of a bound volume. As in numbering, a change has to be made at each "100"; and there is need of further care to avoid missing pages. Where these are thin or interleaved with tissue paper omissions are very easily made.

Perforating is done by machines generally worked by power, but sometimes by treadle, with one foot; and this treadle work was described by a woman constantly employed at it as excessively hard work.

Lithography.—The work of women and girls in lithography seems to be confined to the feeding of machines. In London the introduction of female labour is comparatively recent, dating from about six or seven years ago, but in the provinces women have been employed for more than thirty years. Employers are, for some reason or another, not very ready to give information about this branch of work; but some of the investigators engaged in this enquiry have succeeded in seeing the process. A girl stands on a high platform putting sheets into the proper place in the machine until she has completed the job. A long interval may follow in which she may sew, knit or read. The noise of the machine is incessant, and the work hard, monotonous and mechanical, but if done under proper[Pg 11] conditions not necessarily unhealthy. Many working-places in London, however, where space is so valuable, are partly underground, dark and ill-ventilated, and in these the ceaseless whirring noise and the smell of the ink grow unendurably trying. Workers in such places are rough and of low social standing. Most men working in the general stationery trades, and some employers who do not employ women, condemn the doing of this work by women, and since the women have superseded not men but boys, the views of the workmen are not those of trade rivals. Girls are said to be in various ways better workers than boys—cleaner-handed, more careful and accurate, less disposed to meddle with the machinery, and therefore less liable to accidents; above all, quieter, more docile, and less apt to strike. The men employed in lithography look favourably on the employment of girls, because no girl attempts to rise into the higher grades and "pick up" the trade without apprenticeship. Girls do not, and boys as feeders do, "constitute a danger to the Society." Moreover, a trade that offers only so uncertain a chance of rising is generally disapproved for a boy.

The objection to the employment for girls is that they work among men—an objection which may be a very grave one indeed, or a comparatively slight one, according to the character of the foreman and the management of the workshop. It may be noted that respectable working-class parents almost always consider this objection serious.

A few women are reported to be employed as lithographic artists, but no one has been seen in the course of this enquiry.

Minor stationery trades are envelope-making, black bordering, plain and relief stamping.

Envelope-making has several subdivisions. The paper is first cut to shape in machines worked by men, then passed to women to be "cemented," i.e., to be gummed upon the flaps, folded or "creased," and stuck together. Finally the envelopes are packed by women.

Cementing and folding are reckoned distinct trades. One cementer explained to an investigator, however, that she described herself as a folder, "for people are so ignorant that if you say you are a cementer they think you have something to do with the pavement." Cementing may be done by hand or by machine, and the workers are not interchangeable. The hand-worker spreads out the envelopes in the shape of a fan,[Pg 12] and passes her brush over all the flaps at once. The machine-cementer puts 500 or 1,000 envelopes into a small machine, which grips them and drips gum upon their flaps. The worker extricates the envelopes one by one, and spreads them out to dry. A more complex machine is being introduced which performs the various processes for itself, requiring one girl to feed and one to take-off.

The flaps being dry, the envelopes are taken in bundles to the folders, who first "crease" them—that is, fold in the sides—then "gum" them with a brush at the required points, and fasten them. This process can also be performed by a machine, and the operator in that case merely feeds the machine with the cemented paper, and the envelope is delivered made.

The envelopes are then handed on to the "packers," who count them and make them up into packets, and the packets into parcels.

Except the original cutting, still done by men, all these processes have always been executed by women.

The trade of black bordering is carried on by women who seldom or never perform any other process. Black bordering is usually done by hand. The worker spreads out a number of sheets, cards or envelopes, in such a manner as to expose only a certain width of border, and over this exposed portion she passes a brush. Of course, only two edges of each sheet, etc., can be laid ready at one time, and each object has to be "laid out" a second time after drying. "It is marvellous to see the speed and dexterity with which the women do the 'laying-out.' They gather up a large number of sheets, lay them on the board and fan them out with a piece of wood used for the purpose, showing the most astounding accuracy of eye in leaving just the right width exposed. Sometimes the 'laying out' is done by a machine, and only the blacking by hand." This trade—a steady one on the whole—has, unlike nearly all the other stationery trades, been more prosperous owing to the South African war—a grim little example of the way in which large public events eddy away into undreamed of backwaters! Men now never do black bordering, but are reported to have done so once. Machinery is now being more widely introduced.

Plain, Relief and Cameo Stamping.—Under these heads are included all the various processes by which crests, monograms,[Pg 13] addresses, etc., are embossed upon notepaper, cards, programmes, or private Christmas cards. The trade has increased enormously of late years, and a new process has been introduced which renders it possible to employ the printing press. This, however, is only worth while when the order to be executed is a very large one; and most stamping is done by hand machines, a die being fixed into the machine and impressed by tightly screwing down. The machine is worked (like an ordinary copying press) by a horizontal bar, having a ball at each end, and swung from right to left. The lighter machines can be worked by one hand; the heavier require two, and are found fatiguing. Some are so heavy that they can only be worked by men. Practice is necessary in order to get the stamp in exactly the right place, and, in relief or cameo work, in order to mix the colours, which are rubbed on the die, to precisely the right thickness.

Plain stamping—the easiest process—is that in which letters, a coat of arms, or a trade mark, are raised but not coloured; in relief stamping the raised surface is coloured; and in cameo stamping (of which the registered letter envelope is an example) a white device stands out from a coloured background.

When two or more colours are employed considerable care, skill, and patience are needed. This work, in two or more colours, is called illuminating; in one branch of it—the highest—gold and silver are employed on a coloured surface, and here women are not employed.

Show-card Mounting.—Card mounting is a distinct trade, and is almost entirely in female hands. Almanacs, advertisements, and texts for hanging up, all belong to the province of the card mounter, whose main business is to unite the picture and cardboard that arrive separately in her workshop. The board is first cut either by a man at a cutting machine—or "guillotine"—or occasionally by a girl at a rotary machine adjustable to different gauges; then "lined," by having paper pasted over the back and edges. Inferior work is not lined. Finally, the picture or print is pasted on the card, the backs of three or four pictures being pasted at once, and each in succession being applied to its own card. Some means of hanging up is still needed, and various methods are in use. Sometimes eyelets are inserted into a punched hole by means of a small machine which a girl works by hand. Sometimes the edge is bound[Pg 14] with a strip of tin, having loops attached to it; in this case the tin strips are cut by men, and applied by hand machines, again worked by girls. Sometimes, as in the case of maps, charts, and large diagrams, a wooden rod is fixed at the top, this fixing being done by girls.

The trade is not, it will readily be perceived, one that demands great skill, practice or intelligence, and the majority of the workers are very young. Still, a certain degree of experience is necessary, since the application of either too much or too little paste results in a "blister," and blistered work is spoiled. One investigator was shown a lot of 500 cards, the estimated value of which was 6d. each, no less than 385 of which had thus been spoiled and rendered quite useless. The workers stand at their work and report that it exhausts them. It used, till about twenty-eight years ago, to be done by men; but the trade was at that time a much smaller one. Night work, when considered necessary, is still done by men.

A little laying-on of gold is done in connection with card mounting. The process has been described already under bookbinding.

The Christmas card industry (which may be considered as a variety of show-card mounting) serves to exemplify one of the anomalies of the Factory Act. These cards may be sorted, packed, etc., to any hours of the night, because mere packing is not regarded as manufacture; but if a "bow of ribbon" is to be affixed to each card, the process becomes "preparation for sale," and the regulations of the Act apply.[3]

[3] Cf. pp. 76,77.

Typefounding.—Typefounding is a small, ancient and conservative trade into which women have only crept during the last few years. In London there are only about eight typefoundries proper, and in these labour is elaborately subdivided, every workman performing but one process. Recently, however, some large printing houses have begun to cast their own type, and in these the few men employed perform all the processes, or, to use their own term, "do the work through," thus, curiously enough, reverting to an earlier stage in the development of the trade.

Women are employed in the large foundries, where they perform certain subsidiary parts of the work. Each type when[Pg 15] it comes from the machine wherein it has been cast has a little superfluous bit of thin metal, known as a "break" on its end or "foot." These bits are broken off by girls, the "foot" of the type being pressed against a table and the "break" snapped off. No great skill is required, but quickness only comes with practice. The type is also "set-up"—i.e., put in rows in a long stick or "galley"—by girls; here, again, nothing is needed beyond a certain manual dexterity. Sometimes another stage, "rubbing," intervenes between the "breaking" and the "setting-up." Rubbing is merely the smoothing off on a flat grindstone of any roughness that may be left by the machine round the "face" end of the type. In one case, in London, one or two women were once employed in rubbing, but none appear to be so engaged at present, and the newer appliances have made rubbing unnecessary. "Dressing," the final process through which the type passes, is said to be in some places performed by women; but no such instances have been found in London in the course of this investigation. The dresser receives the lines or sticks of type, polishes the sides, measures their length and breadth with a delicate spanner, "nicks" the foot of each type, and finally "picks over" the type—that is, scans the row of "faces" through a magnifying glass, and rejects any on which the letters are not absolutely truly placed.

One large London firm, employing many girls, has a different process. The types are cast in long lines and have to be divided, no breaking or setting-up being required. As one of the workers said, "This is not a trade; just any one can do it!"

Girls began to do "breaking" and "setting-up" in London about thirteen years ago. There were then but thirteen so employed. During the last few years their numbers have increased, and it is estimated that those now employed number from 100 to 150. One firm is known to employ fifty and another forty. They have superseded boys, and were mainly introduced because boys were difficult to get. The chances of rising being small for boys, they were disinclined to enter the trade. The chances for girls are nil, but this consideration does not weigh much with girls belonging to the class that supplies workers to typefounding. The female workers are all young, and at present no married women seem to be employed, a fact which may perhaps be due to the comparatively recent entrance of women into the trade.

[Pg 16]

The occupation has a special feature of unhealthiness—the danger of lead-poisoning; and the Factory Act, recognising this, prohibits women, young persons or children, from taking a meal upon the premises where typefounding is carried on. As in other lead industries, much depends on the care and cleanliness of the worker. To eat with hands lead-blackened by some hours of "breaking-off" is to run considerable risk of lead-poisoning. It is suggested that girls, being more fastidious than boys upon such points, may possibly suffer less frequently from the dangers involved in the industry of typefounding.

[Pg 17]


Census figures.

Before 1841 the census occupation tables do not state the numbers employed in the detailed trades, and even in that year we find either that no separate return was made for some of the industries with which this volume deals, or that no women were employed at all. Presumably, therefore, previous statistics would not have shown that women were employed in these industries to any appreciable extent.

The following tables show the employment of women in England and Wales and Scotland in the Printing and Kindred Trades according to the census returns from 1841 to 1901. The figures must be used with caution, as they include employers as well as employed (an error, however, which is immaterial in the case of women workers). Subsidiary helpers are also classified with those actually entitled to be regarded as members of the trade, and the tables do not discriminate sufficiently between the various subdivisions of occupations. These last two errors considerably affect the figures relating to women. In the bookbinding section, for instance,[4] the figures are altogether misleading, since by far the greater number of women included as bookbinders are really paper and book-folders, and are no more entitled to the name bookbinder than a bricklayer's labourer is to that of bricklayer.

[4] Since 1881 in the Scottish returns.


Census 1841. (Employers and Employed included.)

[Pg 18]

Booksellers, bookbinders, etc.8,8732,035
Lithographers, etc.66712
Paper manufacture4,375 1,287
Paper rulers11316
Paper stainers1,24392
Type founders6296
Vellum binders1313

Census 1851. (Employers and Employed included.)

Printers, etc.23,5683,926
Lithographers (Great Britain)1,9846
Paper manufacture6,123 4,686
Paper stainers 2,001Not enumerated.

Census 1861. (Employers and Employed included.)

Lithographers, etc.3,588
Paper manufacture 7,7465,611
Machine rulers56454
Envelope makers 179 860
Paper stainers1,556399
Type founders86311

Census 1871. (Employers and Employed included.)

Bookbinders7,917 7,557
Printers44,073 741
Lithographers, etc.3,785Not enumerated.
Paper manufacture 10,1426,630
Envelope makersNot enumerated.1,477
Paper stainers 1,311448

Census 1881. (Employers and Employed included.)

 Males. Females.
Bookbinders9,505 10,592
Printers59,088 2,202
Lithographers, etc6,009 147
Paper manufacture10,352 8,277
Envelope makers175 1,933
Paper stainers1,822 445
Type cutters and founders1,137 32

Census 1891.[Pg 19]

Employers. Employed. Working on
Others not
PrintersM.3,97973,288 1,052 3,64081,959
PrintersF.1584,13332 204 4,527
Lithographers, etc.M.4997,4863592928,636
Lithographers, etc.F.9309724349
Paper manufactureM.39611,0819744012,014
Paper manufactureF.127,598293908,029
Envelope makersM.9260614289
Envelope makersF.22,339131042,458
Paper stainersM.1351,86160782,134
Paper stainersF.10370716403
Type cutters and foundersM.35 1,20423521,314
Type cutters and foundersF.1490555

Census 1901.

Employers. Employed. Working on
Others not
Lithographers, etc.M.4969,6484459310,682
Lithographers, etc.F.71,0151471,043
Paper manufactureM.33714,920475515,359
Paper manufactureF.118,8157188,851
Envelope makersM.1435213370
Envelope makersF.63,1131233,143
Paper stainersM.451,92834252,032
Paper stainersF.228014287
Type cutters and foundersM.351,22315141,287
Type cutters and foundersF.018102183
Stationary manufactureM.3523,91091284,381
Stationary manufactureF.244,61512474,698


Census 1841. (Employers and Employed included.)[Pg 20]

Booksellers, bookbinders, etc.2,164283
Lithographers, etc.2341
Paper manufacture732738
Paper rulers618
Paper stainers311
Type founders292

Census 1851. (Employers and Employed included.)

Printers, etc.3,526 710
Paper manufacture1,2652,159
Paper stainers49Not enumerated.

Census 1861. (Employers and Employed included.)

Lithographers, etc.1,1012
Machine rulers17118
Paper manufacture1,6482,773
Envelope makers5309
Paper stainers77
Type founders434

Census 1871. (Employers and Employed included.)

Lithographers, etc.1,12536
Print and map colourers19257
Bookfolders 1,646
Paper manufacture2,7703,504
Envelope makers7412
Paper rulers214100
Paper stainers11050
Type founders496

Census 1881. (Employers and Employed included.)

Bookbinders1,433 2,587[x]
Printers6,936 839
Lithographers, etc.1,269 153
Map and print colourers and sellers50 41
Paper rulers188 115
Paper manufacture3,363 4,612
Envelope makers32 580
Paper stainers34 97
Type cutters and founders471 71

[x] Bookfolders are included here.

[Pg 21]

Census 1891.

Employers. Employed. Working on
Others not
BookbindersM.68 1,41313 22 1,516
BookbindersF.3 2,8653 18 2,889
PrintersM.322 8,36769 84 8,842
PrintersF.5 1,4171 7 1,430
Lithographers, etc.M.109 1,51622 10 1,657
Lithographers, etc.F. 3971 2 400
Paper rulersM.10 3151 13 339
Paper rulersF.1 192 4 197
Paper manufactureM.107 4,33221 51 4,511
Paper manufactureF.3 4,5464 66 4,619
Envelope makersM.3 332 38
Envelope makersF. 6981 699
Paper stainersM.6 1131 120
Paper stainersF. 28 28
Type cutters and foundersM.9 4963 4 512
Type cutters and foundersF. 75 75

Census 1901.

Employers. Employed. Working on
Others not
BookbindersM. 67 1,422 16 1,505
BookbindersF. 4 3,522 4 3,530
Printers.M. 378 9,643 54 2 10,077
Printers.F. 7 2,852 1 2,860
Lithographers, etc.M. 87 1,640 25 1,752
Lithographers, etc.F. 2 728 1 731
Paper manufactureM. 103 4,860 6 1 5,000
Paper manufactureF. 2 4,653 4,655
Envelope makersM. 4 53 57
Envelope makersF. 1 895 896
Paper stainersM. 1 120 1 122
Paper stainersF. 52 1 53
Type cutters and foundersM. 6 419 5 430
Type cutters and foundersF. 53 53
Stationery manufactureM. 22 95 1 118
Stationery manufactureF. 1 492 3 496

[Pg 22]

Chief Factory Inspector's figures.

In 1896 the Home Office began to publish as an appendix to the Chief Factory Inspector's Report a series of figures of occupation which were exceedingly valuable for purposes of comparison, and in time would have been the best existing statistical index of industrial movements. Unfortunately these figures have not been published since 1899; but for the years that they were issued, those relating to the printing trades were as follows:—


Paper, Printing, Stationery, Etc. (Includes all the industries under this section.)

over 18.
over 18.
1895 Factories. 159,987 63,626 123,895 42,904
Workshops. 3,355 4,692 2,224 3,073
Total. 163,342 68,318 126,119 45,977
1896 Factories. 169,500 68,769 131,166 45,632
Workshops. 4,508 5,919 3,152 3,898
Total. 174,008 74,688 134,318 49,530
1897 Factories. 171,151 69,898 134,221 45,479
Workshops. 4,458 6,305 3,192 4,192
Total. 175,609 76,203 137,413 49,671
1898-99[x] Factories. 173,964 72,833 137,504 46,681

[x] Factories only.



over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 21,26311,008 18,2718,935
1896 22,09111,744 18,7779,403
1897 22,17411,309 19,0869,138
1898-99[x] 22,34011,506 19,1589,197

[x] Factories only.


over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 11,79116,098 9,30410,802
1896 13,30017,159 10,58011,498
1897 14,66120,877 11,70513,985
1898-99[x] 14,89322,555 12,04614,653

[x] Factories only.

[Pg 23]

Letter-press Printing.

over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 104,16219,974 80,23212,699
1896 104,86020,634 80,71912,732
1897 100,62914,473 79,1248,725
1898-99[x] 102,80013,348 81,5988,283

[x] Factories only.

Lithography, Engraving and Photography.

over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 12,7894,516 9,0242,735
Workshops 2,2261,425 1,494943
1896Factories 14,8545,252 10,5723,076
Workshops 3,1162,146 2,2241,437
1897Factories 17,9606,278 12,8673,451
Workshops 2,7942,115 2,0761,477
1898-99[x]Factories 17,7376,457 12,7273,522

[x] Factories only.

Machine Ruling.

over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 664482 408170
Workshops 233134 9745
1896Factories 981599 594197
Workshops 269168 13559
1897Factories 1,7641,414 1,115538
Workshops 322166 16357
1898-99[x]Factories 2,0621,571 1,328534

[x] Factories only.

Paper Staining, Colouring and Enamelling.

over 18.
over 18.
1895Factories 4,254983 2,916540
Workshops 10228 7416
1896Factories 4,4681,065 3,114577
Workshops 13870 11142
1897Factories 4,7951,368 3,395784
Workshops 4066 3338
1898-99[x]Factories 4,8741,320 3,529746

[x] Factories only.

Envelope Making.

over 18.
over 18.
1897Factories 1,2034,156 8962,865
Workshops 37292 25191
1898-99[x]Factories 1,4054,996 1,0303,313

[x] Factories only.

These figures must not be compared with the census returns as they relate only to those establishments making reports to the Factory Inspectors under the Factory and Workshop Law.

[Pg 24]


Women as Compositors. Historical.

The subdivision of labour which has broken up the original printing "profession" into a score or so of different trades, each minutely subdivided in turn, has been the chief cause of the employment of women in this industry in modern times, although it appears that nuns were engaged as compositors at the Ripoli Monastery Press in Florence towards the end of the fifteenth century,[5] within half a century of the introduction of printing. Only very exceptional women could obtain a footing in a profession which embraced typefounding, ink-making, press-carpentry, composing, folding, and bookbinding. The United States, where, in so many respects, women have stepped in advance of European conditions, boasts of Jenny Hirsch, who carried on a printer's business in Boston about 1690, and during the next two centuries women printers were common in the thirteen States. It was a woman, Mary Catherine Goddard, who printed the first issue of the "Declaration of Independence." The years of the French Revolution also seem to be marked by the number of women engaged in the printing trade, whether owing to the general emancipating impulses of the time or to the increased demand for compositors, is not quite clear. The amiable and eccentric Thomas Beddoes, moved by the interest he took in social affairs, and inspired by the emancipatory movement of his time, had been struck with the opening which the printing trades seemed to offer to women, and gave his "Alexander's Expedition"[6] to a woman of his village, Madely, to set up. "I know not," he wrote in the Advertisement to the book, "if women be commonly engaged in printing, but their nimble and delicate fingers seem extremely well adapted [Pg 25]to the office of compositor, and it will be readily granted that employment for females is amongst the greatest desiderata of society." In England, however, the labour of women outside their homes continued to be extremely limited, and the printing trades were confined to men. During the eighteenth century women seem to have been employed in folding and sewing book and news sheets, but they did not come into the trade in any considerable numbers until the nineteenth century was half spent. This was very largely owing to the heavy nature of the work and the long apprenticeship necessary to master the varied details of the craft. The Provincial Typographical Society's first constitution, issued in 1849, shows that at so recent a date the typographical apprentice had to learn "printing and bookbinding" or "printing and stationery."[7] The printing press used in 1800 was practically the same as that used by Gutenberg in 1450.

[5] Printers' Register, August 6th, 1878, quoting Journal für Buchdruckerkunst.

[6] Published in 1792.

[7] Typographical Association: "Fifty Years' Record," p. 4.

The enormous advance in the printing trades owing to the abolition of the stamp duties and the paper tax, together with the spread of education and improvement in the facilities for publishing, with their resulting large demand for printed matter, speedily revolutionised these trades and led to the introduction of the great machines. Pressmen became differentiated from compositors, "minders" from layers-on or takers-off, jobbers from book-hands, folders from makers-up; whilst bookbinding finally became a separate trade altogether. Some of these separate processes, needing but little skill and requiring no apprenticeship, involving no heavy labour and no responsibility, offered openings for women.

Conflict between men and women.

One of the earliest references to women made by the Typographical Association occurs in 1860, when the Executive of the Union mentioned them in its half-yearly report. Printing houses were then closed to Union members on account of the employment of women. The Typographical Society's Monthly Circular for August, 1865, for instance, states that a Bacup newspaper office was closed to members of the Typographical Union, owing to the employment of female labour. The exact form of employment is not given. Again, in the report for June, 1866, the Executive of the Union refers to having trouble with an employer who[Pg 26] tried to employ female labour, but who had failed "to get suitable applicants of the gentle sex." In 1886 it was agreed that women should be admitted to both the Typographical Association and the London Society of Compositors on the same terms as men, but only one woman has availed herself of this resolution.[8]

[8] She joined the London Society of Compositors on August 30th, 1892, but she has now ceased to be a member.

Printing Trades and the Women's Movement.

At this point, the movement for the emancipation of women contributes an interesting chapter to the history of these trades.

The printing trades were regarded by a few of the leading spirits in the agitation for "Women's Rights" as being well adapted to women's skill and physique, and in 1860 Miss Emily Faithfull not only started the Victoria Press, in which women alone were to be employed, but directed the attention of women generally to the openings afforded them by this group of trades. "The compositor trades," the Englishwoman's Journal (June, 1860) said, "should be in the hands of women only." Miss Faithfull's experiments produced some considerable flutter amongst men. At first, the men looked down upon them with the contempt of traditional superiority; women compositors were "to die off like birds in winter" (cf. Printers' Journal, August 5th, 1867, where a correspondent stated that "the day is far distant when such labour can hope to supersede our own"); but some trepidation was speedily caused when it was found that women's shops were undercutting men's, and an alarmist article in the Printers' Register of February 6th, 1869, states that "the exertions of the advocates of female labour in the printing business have resulted in the establishment of a printing office where printing can be done on lower terms than those usually charged." That year Miss Faithfull was engaged in her libel action against Mr. Grant for calling her an atheist, and the Publishers' Circular furiously attacked her work. By-and-by, however, the controversy died down. Miss Faithfull's several attempts[9] to establish permanently a printing establishment bore fruit in the still existing Women's Printing Society, started in 1874.

[9] 1860, 1869, 1873; in 1869 another Women's Printing Office was started as a means of finding employment for educated ladies: Printers' Register, January 6th, 1869.

[Pg 27]

As an industrial factor, however, the "Women's Movement" has been altogether secondary, and women have been induced to enter the trades under review mainly because the subdivision of labour and the application of mechanical power had created simple processes; because they were willing to accept low wages; and because, unlike the men, who were members of Unions, they made no efforts to interfere in the management of the works.

The London experience.

Partly owing to the nature of the work done and partly to the power of the London Society of Compositors, no systematic attempt seems to have been made generally to introduce women compositors into London houses since 1878, and it is of some significance to note that most of the London firms which employed women compositors between 1873 and 1878—the period when the attempt was most actively made—have since disappeared, owing to bad equipment and the inferior character of their trade.

But the opposition to women lingered on after the attempts to introduce them more generally had ceased. In 1879 the London Society of Compositors decided that none of their members should finish work set up by women, and the firm of Messrs. Smyth and Yerworth was struck by the men's Union.[10]

[10] It is interesting to note that in these days also the women only set up the type and the men "made it up."

Commenting on this trouble, the Standard, in a leading article (October 8th, 1879) cynically remarked: "What women ask is not to be allowed to compete with men, which the more sensible among them know to be impossible, but to be allowed the chance of a small livelihood by doing the work of men a little cheaper than men care to do it. This is underselling of course, but it is difficult to see why, when all is said and done, men should object to be undersold by their own wives and daughters."

"Capital and Labour," as quoted by the Victoria Magazine,[11] put the case for the women thus: "This work is much more remunerative, and far less toilsome and irritating than the occupation of the average nursery governess, and we anticipate that, with proper arrangements, there will be a large addition to the number of women compositors. The reasons [Pg 28] assigned against their employment in this capacity seem to be the outcome of pedantry, prejudice, and jealousy; and no trade rules can be permitted to interpose obstacles to the attainment of such a desirable object as furnishing occupation to a number of females who are qualified by deftness of hand and mental capacity to earn in it an honourable livelihood. What would one of the men, who chose to leave Messrs. Smyth and Yerworth at the behest of the Union, say, if having a daughter of his own to assist him in his occupations, she were to be compelled to sit idle while he was made to employ a male assistant at high wages? Yet these men, though intelligent, capable, and industrious, deliberately throw themselves out of work, and become for the time paupers of their Union, because it will not permit them to assist in perfecting any processes which have been begun by women. This is the way in which men run their heads against a brick wall."

[11] November, 1879.

In December, 1882, the Printers' Register published the following notice: "In a West End office, objection having been made to the introduction of female labour, and an undue number of turnovers, a strike appeared imminent, but the Committee of the Society succeeded in settling the dispute to the satisfaction of both sides."

The question does not appear to have troubled the London Society again, but in 1886, a Conference of the Typographical Societies of the United Kingdom and Continent, held in London (October 21st-23rd), resolved:

"That while strongly of opinion that women are not physically capable of performing the duties of a compositor, this Conference recommends their admission to membership of the various Typographical Unions, upon the same conditions as journeymen, provided always the females are paid strictly in accordance with scale."

This resolution was subsequently adopted by the London Society of Compositors as noted above, and is at present in force, with the result that it is practically impossible for any woman to join the Society.[12]

[12] A curious point in connection with the work being sent out of London is that except in the case of Edinburgh the greater cheapness of the work outside London is not due so much to cheaper labour as to lower rent, etc. Several firms out in the country in England where there is no question of a Union preventing them, have tried to introduce women, but with very little success. This is put down as lack of intelligence in the women. No doubt a girl who has had only a village elementary education is not the best material out of which to make a good compositor, and the wages offered are not high enough to tempt town bred girls to undergo the tedium of country life.

[Pg 29]

Provincial experience.

The Scottish compositors are organised in the Scottish Typographical Association, which has no women members. Women, particularly in Edinburgh and Perth, and to a smaller extent in Aberdeen, have been employed to defeat the ends of the Society.[13]

[13] See p. 45.

The few attempts made to organise women in the printing trades have failed. Women have been introduced into these trades at times of trouble with the men's Unions, and are consequently not likely to form organisations of their own. Their work has been so precarious and so largely confined to the mechanical and lower grades of labour,[14] that they have had no incentive to aspire to high standards of wages or other industrial conditions. The women employed in the actual printing processes do not seem to have regarded their work as their permanent means of livelihood to the same extent as folders, for instance, have done, and have been less interested, consequently, in improving their trade conditions; and, finally, the men's Societies, for various reasons, some well-founded and some groundless, have regarded women printers as a form of cheap labour—"undercutters"—and have looked upon them as dangerous intruders.

[14] Cf. pp. 64-68.

When, however, we turn to the organisation of women in the trades dealing with printed matter, especially folding and bookbinding, we find much greater collective activity and closer co-operation both amongst themselves and with the men. Their Trade Union record is still but scanty, nevertheless, the frequent and persistent efforts of women to act jointly, without establishing a permanent organisation, form one of the characteristic features of the trade. This apparently is almost entirely due to the fact that women's labour in bookbinding, e.g., in folding, was accepted by the men, and that in all workshop matters women were the fellow-workers and not the rivals of the men. This distinction between[Pg 30] printing and bookbinding is most marked and requires to be emphasised.

Organisation amongst bookbinders.

The bookbinders' organisation sprang up in 1779-80, as most organisations then did, from friendly meetings in certain houses of call. It was at first known as "The Friends." In 1786, the working day was from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with certain breaks for meals, giving, perhaps, an actual working time of twelve and a half hours per day. But in March of that year, a Conference of the sections decided to ask for a reduction of an hour per day, and their petition was followed by the discharge of workmen.[15] The employers then went further, and in May, 1786, indicted twenty-four of the ringleaders for conspiracy. In a manifesto to the public, the men complained that their wages were only from 15s. to 18s. per week, rising in a few cases to a guinea, and proceeded to charge the employers with having "with vindictive rage forced into the sweet retreats of domestic felicity" wives who were employed in the trade. This action on the part of the employers was not prompted, however, by an objection to women, for, according to the testimony of Mr. W. M. Hall,[16] one of the men indicted, an attempt was made to supply the book market as a temporary makeshift during the dispute with the imperfect work of women. He says, "I cannot remember the exact time of striking the women. This I remember, it was on account of them and the apprentices doing books in boards, by the booksellers consenting to take them so for a time, I was appointed to strike Black Jock's[17] women. I went at one o'clock to see Maria, his forewoman, who used to dine in the shop, she being single. I told her she must inform the other women of the injury they were doing us by continuing at work. If they were willing to serve our interest and leave their work, they should receive their wages for doing nothing. If we gained our cause, they should be sure of employ, and the advantage of the hour also. Coming downstairs, I met Mr. McKinley.

[15] In the Report of the Committee on Trades' Societies published in 1860 by the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, Mr. Dunning tells the history of the London Consolidated Society of Bookbinders. pp. 93-104.

[16] The Finishers' Friendly Circular, May, 1846, No. 4.

[17] An employer named John McKinley.

[Pg 31]

"'Well, Mr. Hall, are you coming to work again directly?'

"'Sir, if you will grant the hour——'

"'Come in here,' he says, going into his dining-room, and setting down a large square bottle of Hollands to give me a glass, taking one himself and pouring out another. Pat, pat, pat! came our ladies downstairs. 'What is all this about?' I was glad to make my escape. The six or seven women were all subpœnaed against me on the trial."

The narrative of this famous struggle—one of the most important in the history of Trade Unionism, involving persecution, imprisonment, and death—contains no further records of the part played by women in it, but Mr. Hall's reminiscence indicates how they behaved. The men were successful, and in 1794, the working day was again reduced, so that it lasted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Presumably the women shared in these advantages, and also in that of an afternoon tea half-hour, which was theirs exclusively until 1806, when the men, during a period of active trade and overtime, demanded the same privilege. James Watson, in his "Recollections,"[18] hints that the kind indulgence of the women to the men, permitted in some shops, made the afternoon tea half-hour a general demand. "Their kind friends, the ladies, while preparing for their own comfort, neglected not those of their less fortunate companions, but contrived by making their tea to accommodate them as much as possible, and the men, if not immediately under the eye of their employer, would seat themselves on the end of their presses for ten minutes or so and thus partake of it." A strike to secure the half-hour was unsuccessful, but the men gradually won their point. Mr. Watson tells how, after the strike, it happened that he was being engaged by one of the opposing masters. The master, "being pressed upon the point, damned the half-hour, but said I might come in and do as I liked. I accordingly accepted the situation, and at tea-time, when I prepared to sit down, I expected to be supported by the men of the shop who were well aware of my intention, but not one of them would move. I was thus placed in an awkward position, and could only turn to my good friends, the ladies, to countenance my proceedings, who kindly invited me to their tea table." In about a month, Mr.[Pg 32] Watson informs us, every man in the place was following his example.[19]

[18] British Bookmaker, June, 1892.

[19] The friendly conduct of "the ladies" was long remembered in the trade, and was celebrated as late as 1847 in a song:—

"What we enjoy we dearly bought,

And nobly they the battle fought,

Who—though the ladies' aid they sought,

Would—right or wrong—have tea.


"Then let us all our voices raise,

And loudly chant to-night in praise

Of those who gained in byegone days,

The time we have for tea."

The Bible Society controversy.

The struggle which the bookbinders fought with most pertinacity was, however, that which they waged against the Religious Societies—particularly the British and Foreign Bible Society—when attempting to cheapen the production of religious literature by means which, the bookbinders contended, involved unreasonably low rates of pay. In this struggle women played a prominent part.

It broke out as early as 1825 when the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge reduced its prices and the master bookbinders working for it reduced wages. The strike which followed collapsed for want of funds. In 1833 the contest was resumed with the British and Foreign Bible Society. That year the five houses then employed by the Society reduced wages, and it appears that when the dispute was about to be settled by both sides accepting a compromise, a representative of the Bible Society instructed the masters to hold out. The men appealed to the Society, but were told that it could not intervene. No definite settlement was ever arrived at.

The first petition which the men addressed to the Society in 1833 made special reference to the condition of the women workers. "Your memorialists beg leave to state," they wrote, "that there are a number of females (about 200) employed in binding the books of your Society, the whole of whose wages have been reduced in consequence of the late alteration in the prices of these books. Their wages were before very low. Your memorialists respectfully submit that the making it more difficult, and in some cases impossible, for females to earn an honest subsistence, by their labour, is in the same proportion[Pg 33] to give potency to the seducers of female virtue." Reply and counter-reply were made, and the Society was heartily attacked by the Union with texts from Scripture and reflections on applied Christianity. In the defence which the Society issued in 1834, it is stated that its binders informed it that "competent and industrious men in our employ earn on an average 6d. an hour or 30s. weekly when in constant work; and women in the same description from 8s. to 10s. and upwards."

Mr. Dunning, the Union Secretary, replied that he could prove that the scale given was an "entire falsehood," and published a second "Address to the Religious Public," in which the wages paid by the principal firm were given, the average for thirteen men working out at a small fraction over a guinea per week, and of twenty-four women at 5s. 11d. per week. In 1843 the dispute was allowed to end, when the five firms promised to pay the women on timework at rates between 7s. 6d. and 15s. per week, and to work them only ten hours per day.

In 1845 the Society decided to give all its binding to one firm, the proprietress of which was Miss Watkins, and four years later the most famous dispute of the series broke out. The "controversy," as it is called in the bookbinders' records, opened by an appeal addressed to the Society on August 17th, 1849, by the journeymen bookbinders of London and Westminster, in which it was alleged that Miss Watkins had returned to piecework, and that the wages she was paying to women averaged only 5s. 6d. to 6s. per week for a longer day than ten hours. Learners were taken on and were discharged so soon as they were entitled to increases in wages, and a rule was said to be in operation by which, so soon as a woman worker was qualified to be paid more than 7s. a week, she was discharged. "Exorbitant" fines were also imposed. "Females," remarks the appeal, "often have not the power to plead their own cause in such matters, and being helpless in many respects where their wages are concerned, they are trodden down until a state of things such as described in the 'Song of the Shirt' appals the mind with the enormity of their injuries, their suffering, and their moral condition." The appeal contained the following table, showing the difference in wages paid to women working for the Bible Society and those working for the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[Pg 34]

Bible Society Society for
s. d. s. d.
5 0 Pearl Bibles, per 100 vols. 7s. 6d.
5 Ruby Bibles, per 100 vols. 7s. 0d.
6 10½ Large Pica Bibles, per 100 vols. 8s. 4d.
6 8 Small Bibles, per 100 vols. 8s. 4d.

One of the grievances specially mentioned in this appeal was that women were not allowed hot water, except between 4 and 4.30 p.m., and were then charged 1d. per week for it.

Immediately (August 22nd, 1849) after the issue of the "Appeal" the women employed by Miss Watkins were asked to sign a statement that they were perfectly satisfied with their pay and conditions. Several signed, not knowing the purport of the paper; others refused. On the advice of the men's Union a counter-statement was drawn up and signed, and sent in to the Bible Society, and on finding that the forewoman who had taken their part, together with the active promoters of the counter-petition, were to be discharged, the women left work, and demanded:—

1. That prices should be raised to the standard paid by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

2. That fines should be abolished.

3. That they should have access to cold water as well as hot for tea.

4. That after the learners then employed had completed their apprenticeship, not more than twenty learners should be employed at one time.

About a hundred women had come out, and the men's Union organised a relief fund.[20]

[20] It may not be amiss to copy a few sentences from Mr. Dunning's obituary notice in the Bookbinder's Trade Circular, January 21st, 1862, of the women's leader, Mary E. Zugg, an early and humble worker in women's organisations. "Nothing could exceed the temper, moderation and firmness she displayed. Possessing great energy, strong sense and great acuteness of perception, detecting at a glance pretence from reality, she was not what was termed a strong-minded woman, commanding great respect and but little affection, for her goodness of heart and great regard for the feelings and welfare of others endeared her to all." She died at the age of thirty-three of consumption on November 13th, 1861, and is buried in Bow Cemetery.

Miss Watkins replied, denying every charge made by Mr. Dunning, and giving 10s. as the earnings for a week of sixty [Pg 35] hours. The Union replied by asking that a deputation should be allowed to inspect the wages books of the firm. It claimed to be in possession of the rates of wages paid to ninety-seven folders and sewers for three weeks in August, and gave the average as 6s.d. for a sixty-hours' week, and in other respects it supported its original charges.

The Times of January 25th, 1850, contains in its advertisement columns the report of a Committee of the Southwark Auxiliary of the Bible Society, which examined Miss Watkins' books, and it supported her statements. The women earned from 9s. to 14s. per week. But Mr. Dunning was not silenced, and on March 25th he issued a long pamphlet, the last of the "controversy" for the time. In it, it is stated that the committee of investigation had been deceived so as to mistake wages paid for ten days as though they were paid for a week, and a table of wages for three weeks in September and October, for the week ending July 28th, 1849, and for the four weeks preceding the strike, was printed.[21] The wage average of the periods was from 5s.d. to 6s.d. per week of sixty hours.

[21] See p. 184.

The agitation failed. The women either found work elsewhere, or went back under the conditions against which they had struck. Mr. Dunning could only say that the dispute had arrested a downward tendency in prices and wages.

The dispute cost the men's Union £146. This was spent mostly in printing and postage, but it included grants amounting to £22 given to the separate Women's Committee, which had collected an additional fund of £650 to aid the strikers.

The finishers had strongly opposed the support which the Union had given to the women, and their section, to the number of 150, was finally expelled from the Union.

But whilst this unusual harmony existed between the men's Union and the women workers, no serious attempt had been made to organise the women permanently, either as members of the men's Society, or in one of their own. In 1833, in an address to the London journeymen bookbinders, a Mr. Benjamin Teasdale, of Manchester, advised the formation of a women's Society, but nothing appears to have been done. In 1855 they were allowed to borrow books from the men's library on the payment of 6d. a quarter. It is impossible to ascertain how far[Pg 36] the agreement between men and masters for a nine hours' day in 1872 really affected women, as a considerable proportion of them had been working only for nine hours before the agreement was made.

The Society of Women employed in Bookbinding.

Not till 1874 was there a determined and successful attempt made to organise women bookbinders into a Union. On September 12th of that year "the first Society formed for women," the Society of Women employed in Bookbinding, was formed by Mrs. Emma Paterson, the pioneer of women's Trade Unions in England,[22] and in the following year Mrs. Paterson was sent as its delegate to the Trade Union Congress meeting in Glasgow. This was the first time that a woman had appeared at these parliaments of Trade Unionism, which had been held annually since 1868. From the commencement the relations between the men's and the women's Societies were most cordial, and at the first annual meeting of the latter Mrs. Paterson read a letter she had received "some years ago" from Mr. Dunning, in which he advised "the formation of Trades' Societies for women." The cordial greetings extended to the new Society by its brother organisation did not meet it everywhere. A congratulatory resolution was moved at the London Trades' Council, and though it received the support of the veteran George Odger, it was met with considerable opposition. Women's labour was cheap labour, and many of the delegates to the Trades' Council could not get beyond that fact.

[22] Mrs. Paterson was born in London on April 5th, 1848, and was the daughter of H. Smith, headmaster of St. George's, Hanover Square, parish school. In 1867 she became assistant secretary to the Club and Institute Union, and in 1872 secretary to the Women's Suffrage Association. Next year she married Thomas Paterson, a cabinet-maker and wood carver. With him she visited America where she saw the Female Umbrella Makers' Union at work. On her return to London in 1874 she formed the Women's Protective and Provident League, the membership of which was mainly middle class, though its object was to promote Trade Unionism amongst women. She died December 1st, 1886, and was buried in the Paddington Cemetery. See art. Dictionary of National Biography.

It is unnecessary to detail the somewhat uneventful career of the Union. Mrs. Paterson, at the end of eighteen months, was succeeded by Miss Eleanor Whyte, who still occupies the position of secretary.[23] The membership began at 66 and [Pg 37] reached 275—of whom only 200 were financial members—at the end of the first year. From that time till now the membership has been exceedingly variable, and no full and reliable records seem to exist. But from the disconnected information which is at our disposal, it would appear that the two most successful years of the Society were 1876 (when 63 new members were enrolled), and 1890 (when 67 were enrolled). In 1870 the membership was given at 210; in 1884 at 200; in 1891 at 240; in 1901 at 270; the period of depression from 1883 to 1889 seems to have tried the Society very severely.

[23] December, 1903.

The objects of this Society are stated to be: "To maintain and protect the rights and privileges of the trade and to grant relief to such members as may be out of work, or afflicted with illness." The subscription is 2d. per week, and an entrance fee of 1s. is imposed.

It can hardly be expected that a Society whose membership has probably never exceeded 270, could have much fighting force. But agitation has never been the policy of the Society. It has refused to join with the men in making demands upon the employers; its representatives at Trade Union Congresses and elsewhere have steadily resisted legal restrictions upon labour; it has not shown itself anxious to seize what the men regarded as opportunities to make itself felt.[24]

[24] In 1891 the women's Society refused to support the men's in agitating for an eight-hours' day. In 1875 Mrs. Paterson said at the Trade Union Congress that "the more they pressed for additional legislation the greater obstacles they threw in the way of working women. She should rather say let them suffer a little longer the evils of overwork and long hours." The Union's representatives, however, have always pressed for women factory inspectors, and on this matter Mrs. Paterson was for a good many years a voice crying in the wilderness.

Perhaps the Union has been too willing to make requests to good employers for better conditions, and too timorous in helping to level up the general conditions of the trade. Employers have not been hostile. Mr. B. Collins, the publisher, for instance, presided over the annual meeting for 1891, and Mr. Longmans and other publishers have done the same in other years. "I know an employer," says a writer in the British Bookmaker of September, 1891, "who will give £100 to see a good women's Union established. Why? Because if it could be done, its effect upon other employers would remove the [Pg 38] gross inequalities of prices that at present exist to his detriment." But this Union has never reached that point of strength when it could bring pressure to bear on the trade for the mutual advantage of the good employer and the woman worker.

As a consequence, the good relations between the men and the women in the trade have not always been maintained, and there was considerable ill-feeling between the two sections during the eight hours' agitation from 1891 to 1894.[25]

[25] It should be noted, however, that the sentiment amongst the women as a whole was friendly during the eight hours' agitation, although the Society was taking no part in it officially. A writer in the British Bookmaker for December, 1891, tells how all the women in the lacing department of Messrs. Waterlow's (Hill Street) struck on a certain job, and how "at another place as I stood with the pickets outside, about five o'clock one cold afternoon, I saw something descending from an upper storey and found it was a quart of hot tea for the benumbed men on duty below, lowered out by a string from the women's shop."

At the present moment this Society is regarded by both men and women mainly as a benefit club. In this respect it has been most successful and has paid with excellent regularity.

The Book-folders' Union.

An attempt was made in 1892 to start another Union for women engaged in folding in printing houses. The sponsor of the new Society was the Printers' and Stationers' Warehousemen's and Cutters' Union. It is a significant fact, and one which throws a great deal of light upon the very little which one section of workers knows even of those working at their elbow, that the organisers of the new Union were quite unaware of the existence of the Women Bookbinders' Society. The new Society, which called itself the Book-folders' Union, was started during the flood of Trade Union sentiment which followed the London Dock Strike in 1889, and its membership grew rapidly. Within five months of its formation it is said to have numbered 500,[26] and later on the figure of 700 was quoted. A popular employer, Mrs. Bond, had been elected secretary, and an assistant was appointed at a wage of 18s. per week. This new Union was determined to be as active as the older one had been inactive. It demanded a minimum wage of 15s., time-and-a-quarter pay for overtime, and "no apprentices." It also demanded exemption from the nightwork prohibition clauses of the Factory and Workshop Acts. But the Union was doomed to an early and ignominious end.[Pg 39] During the absence of the secretary the finances became hopelessly involved, and a deficit in cash decided the members to close the whole matter.[27]

[26] Women's Trade Union Journal, January 15th, 1893.

[27] The fact that all definite recollection of this Union is passing away, and that for the above information we have had to rely upon the memory of two ladies who were indirectly interested in it, throws some light upon the carelessness in industrial matters of the woman worker. No minutes nor other documents can be found. "The person who had them, married," and that was taken to have settled the matter.

The Society would not even formally amalgamate with the older Society, partly owing to differences in method, and partly to its disgust with its failure and disgrace.

National Book-folders and Kindred Trades Union.

One more attempt to found a fighting women's Union was made in 1894 by the Printing and Kindred Trades Federation. All women employed in the Printing and Kindred Trades were to be eligible for membership. The attempt arose out of two disputes. In one, the women employed by a certain firm had successfully struck for an increase of wages and against certain conditions of labour; in the second, women had come out to show their sympathy with some locked-out men.[28] In recognition of the women's "courage and loyalty" the men promoted the Union. In a month or two its membership stood at 100, and by March 1896, 350 members had joined. The membership at the end of 1902 was 150, mostly book-folders, and the following points are prominent in the Union's demands:—

1. To obtain and maintain the recognised minimum scale of pay for every member;

2. To reduce hours of labour;

3. To regulate the relations between employers and employed.

[28] It is interesting to note that whilst the cheapness of women's work as compositors in Edinburgh seems to have attracted a certain class of work from London, the men's success in keeping up wages in the London bookbinding trade does not seem to have driven bookbinding into the provinces. There are one or two bookbinding firms in the provinces and in Scotland which employ girls, but mainly upon diary and account book work, the book trade being practically untouched. Cf. f.n., 28-29.

It had no sick benefits, but paid £5 at death, and offered strike pay on condition that the strike was sanctioned by the committee. The reserve fund in 1902 was under £100.

In 1903 the Society approached the Printers' and Stationers' Warehousemen praying to be recognised as a branch of that [Pg 40] Union. A ballot of the men was taken, when 700 voted that the request be granted and 334 that it be not. The Women's Society has therefore ceased to exist as a separate organisation.

The Manchester Society.

A Manchester Society,[29] "The Manchester and Salford Society of Women Employed in the Bookbinding and Printing Trades" has gained some definite success in increasing wages during its six years of existence. In its third Annual Report, 1899, it is stated that in May, 1898, the Society began an attempt to increase wages to a 10s. minimum after a three or four years' apprenticeship, that as a consequence the wages of forty girls were raised in September from 9s. to 10s., and that subsequently thirty others received the shilling advance. In its next Report, 1899-1900, it states, without giving the number of girls affected, that "they now all receive 11s. and 12s. per week, where, prior to joining the Union, they earned 9s. and 10s. per week." Next year the membership was 165, and the last issued Report, 1902, whilst stating that "a slight increase of membership" had taken place during the year, gives no figures. "Losses through marriage and other circumstances," the 1901 Report says, "have been great," and the Society is kept going mainly by the devotion of one or two persons.[30]

[29] The existing Society is the second attempt to organise the women in these trades in Manchester.

[30] The last balance sheet gives at a glance the position of this Society, and indicates its activities:—


Income. £ s. d.
To balance from April
30th, 1901
114 0
"  contributions 72 3 3
"  Bank interest 2 9 11
---- -- --
188 13
=== == ==
Expenditure. £ s. d.
By sick pay 29 10 0
"  out-of-work pay 17 1 8
" printing 2 15 9
" postages 0 8 6
" secretary's salary 5 12 6
" collector's commission 1 9 9
" grant to Women's Trades Council 2 0 0
" grant to treasurer 0 5 0
" auditing accounts 0 4 0
" deputation expenses 0 2 0
---- -- --
59 9 2
" cash in Bank on
April 30th, 1902
125 2 5
" cash in hands of
4 1 11½
---- -- --
£188 13
==== == ==

[Pg 41]

Attempts have been made to organise women elsewhere as, for instance, in Edinburgh, where a Union of women compositors existed for a year; also in Birmingham, where ten years ago a Union was formed specially to include the machine-rulers who had been introduced about ten years previously. But the movements have failed.

Such is the record of the organisation of women in the trades with which we are dealing. It is almost exclusively confined to London and Manchester, and in London, out of 19,000 women connected with bookbinding, most of whom are book- and paper-folders, certainly not more than 500 are organised. In 1901, in the seven Men's Unions covering these trades there were 41,907 members, whilst the total membership of the Women's Unions was well under 1,000.

Maintaining standards without organisation.

Our enquiries have discovered, however, the existence of a kind of loose organisation of majority-rule and custom in some firms. Standards of prices and conditions are thus kept up. It must not be forgotten that where men and women work together all concessions won by the men's Unions are shared by women, as for instance, when the Typographical Association of Scotland secured a fifty hours' week for Aberdeen compositors. This is an interesting feature of feminine methods. In one house we came across two collating-rooms, one of which was staffed by older hands, who stood upon their dignity and would not accept inferior work or tolerate reductions in wages. The other room was conducted after the methods of the ordinary employer of cheap women's labour; the workpeople were careless and casual and the room had no traditions and no industrial "public opinion." This force of opinion, which assumes almost the nature of caste, is most strongly developed amongst job hands. These women manage to keep up a comparatively high standard of pay, and we have discovered the most unusual circumstance that in one or two instances the wages of job women have been cut down to the Union rates. We have been told on most trustworthy authority that the unwritten laws of these job hands are sometimes enforced upon recalcitrant work-women by "a hiding."

Organisation in the miscellaneous trades.

As regards organisation in the more miscellaneous trades included in our investigation, little has to be said. A few card[Pg 42] mounters once joined the Women's Printing and Kindred Trades Union after a strike, but soon fell away, and a Union started in 1890, of which little information can now be obtained, included some envelope makers: but by 1893 it, too, seems to have died.

No attempt has been made to organise women engaged in the preparation of materials for printing either in London or the provinces.

The attitude of employers.

The attitude of employers and employed to Trade Unions at the present moment is most varied. Naturally, a good many employers are in no mood to encourage Unions, because they do not know what might happen if the women's organisations became as strong as the men's. But, on the other hand, a considerable number of employers working under fair conditions and doing a trade of good quality, would welcome combination. It would help them against their cutting competitors, and they do not object to meet the reasonable demands of their women. In thirty-four cases employers were not aware of the existence of a Union at all. Fourteen forewomen knew about a Union, eleven denied its existence.[31] In no instance in London was a non-Union woman bookbinder discovered who knew of the existence of both the Unions, though the majority of the women knew of the existence of one or the other.

[31] It is important to note in connection with this point that the power of a forewoman over women is generally more unquestioned than that of a foreman over men.

The women's attitude.

We were anxious to find out why they did not join. Some spoke with scorn of the older Union because it was only a benefit Society; others said, "No use in joining; you get nothing out of it;" others thought it dangerous; others suspected all Unions; others frankly admitted that marriage was sure to come along, and then they would work in factories and workshops no longer. An eloquent commentary upon this sentiment is to be found in the figures extracted from the Factory Inspector's Annual Reports and printed in Chapter II. When one works out from these tables the proportion between the males of over 18 years of age and the total number of males employed in the various trades and compares [Pg 43] it with that of the females, it will be found that a comparatively excessive percentage of the latter are under 18 years of age. The same point is brought out with more emphasis and detail in Appendix VII. The women do not, in fact, feel it necessary to organise themselves, and a manager of a Co-operative Printing Works, where membership of a Union is compulsory upon women, informed us that they grumble when they are made to join and surrender their membership as soon as they can. The notes of some of the conversations reported are valuable indications of the mind of the woman wage-earner in this respect.

We can only say in conclusion that, in the first place, women do not take that strenuous interest in their labour conditions which is essential to successful organisation. In the second place, it appears that, except at occasional times of dispute, their work is so well marked off from that of men, that the men's Unions in these trades are coming more and more to the conclusion that it does not pay them to organise the women. In the third place, we have been surprised to find that the great majority of employers and of their women employées assume that wages are fixed and that any effort to alter them by organisation will be doomed to failure.[32] Our investigators have been given instance after instance of both increase and reduction in wages, but the general tenor of conversation is a pessimist and listless view that whatever is, is fixed.

[32] Cf. p. 90.

[Pg 44]


Do women displace men?

One of the most important questions relating to women as workers is the exact relationship between their work and that of men, i.e., how far they are rivals in competition and how far they are helpers in co-operation. In some of these trades, such as that of the lithographic artists, this question has never arisen, because women have rarely entered the trade. Only five instances of women working as lithographic artists are known to the head of St. Bride's Institute. But that men and women have been rivals from time to time is placed beyond doubt, although it must always be remembered that the same work nominally is not always the same work actually.[33]

[33] Men feeders, for instance, carry formes and do little things about the machine which women do not do. In one instance it was reported that a firm with a London and a country house, employed women in the latter to do binding done by men in the former. On enquiry it was found that the heavy work was done in London and the light work in the country. An interesting case in point is reported by a Scottish investigator. "Stated that in another workshop a man had been displaced at a paper-ruling machine and two girls taken on instead. I took special note of this case when visiting the workshop in question later. There were two girls employed at the machine, but they appeared to be working along with the manager of that department, who was supervising it." But there is work, such as the minding of platen machines which men do in London but which women do in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Gold laying for cloth binding has, within the last quarter of a century, become the work of women who have taken the place of old "finishers" in some bookbinding firms,[34] and at [Pg 45] Dunstable women are reported as doing binding throughout. Women are employed as compositors much more frequently in the provinces than in London. In Edinburgh and Aberdeen, for instance, women are reported as being engaged in every process, except making-up and the heavy work of carrying type, in which men alone are employed. Type-setting and distribution of type are often done by women in Scotland. In some of the Edinburgh printing establishments women do practically the same work as men. The extensive employment of women during the compositors' strike in Edinburgh in 1872 to secure a fifty-one hours' working week[35] was the result of the determination of the employers to defeat the Typographical Association, and at least one firm in London tried the same policy during the bookbinders' strike for an eight-hours' day in 1902 though apparently with no success. The enthusiasts for the introduction of women into the printing trades had for some time been trying to get a hold upon Edinburgh printing offices, but had failed until the strike of 1872. An enterprising employer then trained some girls from the Merchant Company's Schools—a better class of girls whom we find described sometimes as "stickit teachers"—to compose. The results were satisfactory, and the example was speedily followed. The strike failed and the displacement of men continued.

[34] Reporting to their members in May, 1903, the Wages Committee of the London Society of Journeymen Bookbinders (Third Report) state regarding the award just given on certain points of dispute between the Unions and the Employers: "The right of employment of women in laying-on of gold has also been awarded against us, notwithstanding that no part of the proceedings evoked more strenuous opposition from your representatives. The hands of your delegates were weakened by the fact that the practice already existed: in some cases had crept in, and in others been extended unawares; yet they strove to preserve the right of the workman, whilst willing and anxious that the supercession of the workwoman, where she had been introduced, should be gradual and considerate.—The argument for the employers is that the employment of women on the class of gold laying-on indicated, will enable them fairly to compete in other fields, and will tend to increase men's work instead of to reduce it. This view, the arbitrator adopted."

[35] So also in Aberdeen. "About a dozen years ago during a dispute about apprentices, seventeen men and three or five boys went out, and girls were then taken on."

The Perth dispute.

Something similar happened in Perth, where twenty-five years ago four girls were taken into the newspaper department of the offices of the Perthshire Advertiser. About seven years ago they were introduced into a commercial printing office, and a year later the Perthshire Constitutional began to employ them on general bookwork and setting-up newspaper copy, the proprietor claiming that he had the same right as the other offices to have cheap female labour. Thus the practice threatened [Pg 46] to spread throughout the other commercial printing offices, and the men's Union thought it was time to bestir itself. It decided that the women must either be paid the same rates as the men or be got rid of altogether. This ultimatum was sent to the employers. The Constitutional complied with the demands of the Union and dismissed its women workers. The Advertiser at first proposed gradually to replace the girls by men in the commercial department, but to continue to run the newspaper department by female labour. The proprietor contended that this would not give him an unfair advantage over the other firms, as they employed linotype machines. The Union then decided to strike, and took thirty men out of the Advertiser office. Four remained in, and some other non-Union men were also engaged. The office continues to work under this system.

Value of women's work.

There has also been trouble in Grimsby (1899), owing to the employment of women on a bi-weekly newspaper, at Redhill (1898-1900), and at Reading (1902). Other places where the Typographical Association report women to be employed are, Louth (Lincolnshire), Aylesbury, Beccles, Fakenham, Warrington,[36] etc.; whilst in Birmingham the experiment was tried about 1890, but has been abandoned. They are also employed at Bungay, but in decreasing numbers, because their proofs require so much more correcting than the men's that the valuable time thus lost is not compensated for by the cheapness of their labour. The same is true of Edinburgh, where their wages have fallen from a rate of 1s. 6d. to 1s. per average page. In Leicester a firm tried to employ women in distributing type at low rates of pay, but a protest from the local executive of the Typographical Association led immediately to the experiment being discontinued. There is an almost unanimous chorus of opinion that women's [Pg 47] work as compositors is so inferior to men's that it does not pay in the long run. From the days of Miss Faithfull's experiments, the men have been able to boast that women could not touch them at the case. In Aberdeen the unwillingness of boys to submit to a long apprenticeship and the fear of parents that the linotype has spoiled the typographical trade, are said to be the main reasons necessitating the employment of women compositors.

[36] Women were introduced into Warrington newspaper offices early in the decade beginning with 1880. They have been found to be quicker than men in plain setting-up and simple straightforward work. They do not stay very long—the eldest girl compositor employed, when our investigator called, being only twenty-five. They are not employed in locking the formes; nor curiously enough are they employed in the machine-room to feed the printing presses, though they are so engaged in Manchester. The women compositors are paid one-third of the men's rate. Here it was definitely stated that the cheapness of women's labour made it unnecessary to introduce linotypes.

The men's view.

Men in these trades have never looked upon women competitors with a friendly eye, the reason being that so many branches are just on the margin line of those occupations which are so light and easily picked up that women can supplant men in them altogether.[37] The Typographical Association for over a quarter of a century has had to carry on a constant struggle with the employers in order to protect the journeymen printers against three forms of cheap labour—apprentices, unskilled men and women.[38] Employers in a small way of business, maintaining establishments on little capital, where efficiency is not high, employ women on work done in larger and better equipped establishments exclusively by men. Here there is rivalry and competition, and women are preferred mainly because they accept lower wages, and [Pg 48] because they are not members of Unions;[39] and their lack of technical skill is not found to be a sufficient counterpoise to these advantages. But in these places an inferior kind of work is done, and if men were employed they would either have to accept wages below the generally enforced scale, or the whole character of the work and organisation of the business would have to be changed.

[37] It is interesting to note that an official of the Lithographic Printers' Society, entitled to explain the attitude of the Union, stated, "The Lithographic Society distinctly encourages girls; when boys feed the machines they are apt to pick up too much and want to become litho-printers before going through the apprenticeship. The women, not desiring to become litho-printers, are better from the Society's point of view."

[38] This is the real opposition which the men offer to women. In Perth and Bungay, for instance, the women put in a bill at the end of each week, worked out on the men's scale of rates. The cashier then divides the total by two and pays the women accordingly. In Edinburgh women's piece rates for composing average about two-thirds those of men. At Warrington, women do machine-ruling for prices ranging from 15s. to 20s., whilst men are paid 32s. for the same work. A more definite statement is made by a Manchester employer. He estimated that a woman was two-thirds as valuable in a printer's and stationer's warehouse as a man, and she was paid 15s. or 20s. to his 33s. A further example of this is given in connection with a Scottish firm executing Government work. "As the Government insists upon the men's Union price being paid, the work is being done by men, although in the ordinary way it would have been done by women." "But they would never allow the women," said our informant of her employers, "to make such big money as that."

[39] This is why the Typographical Association offers a steady resistance to the employment of women. It does not object to them as women, but as forms of cheap and unskilled labour.

Apparent rivalry.

In the better equipped houses, where women are employed on work generally done by men, as in composing, only parts of a compositor's duty are performed by women, and the heavier or the more technical duties, such as carrying about the formes or imposing, are done as a rule by boys or men.[40] So that here the rivalry is but partial, and, moreover, the employment of women does not always pay. It appears that in some cases, particularly in bookbinding, the application of machinery[41] makes it possible for the less skilled and lower paid women to do work formerly done by men, so that men regard women plus the machine as their competitor. On the other hand machines have displaced women and have made new openings for men, as in the case of one of the most recently introduced folding machines which feeds itself. But the re-organisation of the workshop which follows the introduction of the machine cannot be regarded merely as a substitution of men's labour by women's or the opposite, for what really happens is an all-round shifting of the distribution of labour-power and skill, and a re-arrangement of the subdivision of labour.[42] Men are transferred from [Pg 49] one kind of work to another, owing mainly to a change in the volume of production; women are introduced not so much to take men's places as to fill places created by the re-organisation of work; youths also find a footing more often at the expense of women than of men. At certain points the machine simplifies processes and abolishes the need of paying for skill in the worker; at others it makes skill (sometimes, perhaps, a new kind of skill) more necessary; at one point it abolishes the need of paying for strength, at another it makes a new opening for strength. Thus the displacement which occurs, and the competition set up are often more apparent than real.

[40] As a type of the reports from firms employing women compositors, the following from Edinburgh firms may be summarised: Seven girls are employed on each machine (monotype), five on the keyboards and two correcting proofs. A man is kept for every ten or twelve girls, his work being to "make up" the girls' work. Another firm employs a man to attend to every three monotype machines used, for the purpose of keeping things going. Another says it employs two men compositors and one labourer for thirty-eight girls.

[41] Machinery has also tended to increase the employment of women in stamping and embossing.

[42] An official of a Bookbinders' Union states: "In A works there was much gloom among the men when the rounding and backing machine came in; profitable work was taken away from the 'rounders' and 'backers,' but they had more 'lining-up' and other work to do in consequence, so nobody was turned off."

A miscellaneous survey.

In the more miscellaneous trades over which this enquiry ranged a considerable mass of evidence points to the displacement of men by women. General statements to this effect are common in the evidence of both employers and employed. In firm A. it is alleged that women do the same work in card mounting as used to be done by men, and are paid 2s. for work which used to be paid for at 10s. Paging and numbering used to be men's work, but is now almost exclusively done by women. Plain relief stamping and black bordering have also drifted into the hands of women, whilst in various directions, such as the making and binding of cases, wrappering, or feeding printing and particularly lithographic machines, women are beginning to encroach upon men. These displacements are very often only local. Manchester has one experience; Edinburgh another. Leeds was agitated because women were displacing men on a French ruling machine, whilst elsewhere no similar move was taking place. But it must be emphasised again that in many of these instances careful enquiry shows that when men were employed they did something that the women do not now do,[43] and that the employment of women was owing to an increased volume of trade, when new machinery or some other change had made a greater subdivision of labour possible and profitable. In [Pg 50] some cases girls displace boys for no other reason than that boys cannot be found to do the work; this was the case in Manchester some ten years ago, when girls took the place of boys in letterpress work.

[43] An Edinburgh employer put that in this way: "If women were paid the same rates as men they would have to pay for their overseers and assistants."


Generally, the results of our investigations show the following summary of the advantages and disadvantages of women's labour to the employer, and their employment in preference to men depends upon how far in any given case or under any given circumstances the balance of these advantages and disadvantages is on the side of the women—or, it must also be said, how far the employer is bound by conservative use and wont so as to be protected against any impulse to employ the best organisation for the efficient conduct of his business.

The advantages of the woman worker are:—

1. That she will accept low wages; she usually works for about half the men's wages.

2. That she is not a member of a Union, and is, therefore, more amenable to the will of the employer as the absolute rule of the workshop.

3. That she is a steady[44] worker (much emphasis must not be placed upon this, as the contrary is also alleged), and nimble at mechanical processes, such as folding and collecting sheets.

[44] "In Mr. W——'s youth, men used to do all the card mounting. Women were introduced for it about twenty-nine years ago. They were brought in because the men drank so and kept away." But later on the same informant said that he had to introduce a varnishing machine because women "kept away so."

4. That she will do odd jobs which lead to nothing.[45]

[45] Birmingham boys, for instance, would not feed printing machines, because it "leads to nothing," so girls were employed. Cf. Aberdeen, p. 47, etc.

Her disadvantages are:—

1. That she has less technical skill than a man, and is not so useful all round.

2. That she has less strength at work and has more broken time owing to bad health and, especially should she be married, domestic duties, and that her output is not so great as that of a man.[46]

[46] An employer with considerable experience both of men and women in the printing trade in Scotland, says, "given a certain area of floor space for men and women, on the former would probably be produced half more than on the latter."

[Pg 51]

3. That she is more liable to leave work just when she is getting most useful; or, expressing this in a general way, that there are more changes in a crowd of women workers than in a crowd of men workers.

4. That employers object to mixed departments.[47]

[47] 1, 2, and 4, together lead London employers to conclude that an extension of women's employment is impossible, because it would mean larger workshops in proportion to the numbers employed, and consequently ruinous rents.

One interesting point must be noted in connection with these conclusions. In London, where women mainly work on the more unskilled and irregular processes, it is often difficult to see what industrial influence they are exerting. In Edinburgh or Aberdeen that is not so much the case. And one thing which is observable in these places is that the employment of women of itself leads to those minute subdivisions of labour characteristic of machine industry. "There are more subdivisions of labour amongst women than amongst men in the printing trade. For example, one girl will set-up the type, another will "brassout" (put in heads and finish it), or two may sometimes be employed in finishing it."[48]

[48] So in bookbinding. A Dundee manager of a general binding establishment, says: "The subdivision of labour system has certainly favoured the increased employment of women in the trade."

Cheap, mechanical and light work consequently tends to be done by women, whilst the men enjoy almost undisputed possession of the rest. The woman worker, for instance, competes with the man in binding the cheap light notebook, whilst she rarely interferes with him in binding heavy ledgers.[49] On the other hand, in some of the more mechanical departments, such as examining sheets of paper by touch, she attains a wonderful dexterity.

[49] The following report from Aberdeen gives an interesting account of the subdivision of labour in a firm which has introduced women for cloth-case making:—"The department where girls are beginning to encroach on men is in cloth-case work, that is, making the cases and putting them on. In the higher reaches of the trade the women do not show themselves to be so skilful. As yet the men's Unions have not shown much active opposition to women's work in this branch, provided always that one man is set to work with every five girls employed on it. The making of a 'case' is divided into five sections and illustrates the modern development of the division of labour system.

1st girl glues.

2nd girl lays on boards.

Man cuts corners.

3rd girl turns in ends.

4th girl turns in fore-edge.

5th girl (young) puts it through rolling machine."

We have also to note how very effectively conservative[Pg 52] notions about women's sphere and chivalrous prejudices about protecting them, influence certain employers in determining what work they ought to do.

Technical training.

We have endeavoured to ascertain how far technical training would increase the pressure of competition between men and women, but in the present rudimentary state of such training there are few data to guide us to any very positive conclusion.

It is difficult, however, to see how in these trades the technical training of women would threaten men, except perhaps in the artistic branches. The use of the various mechanical typesetting machines has already led to some displacement of labour, and though the technique of setting and spacing might be taught to women in trade classes, the greater regularity of the male worker, and his remaining longer at the trade must always, in so skilled an industry as this, give him advantages over his female competitor. Nor would classes for women in bookbinding injure men bookbinders. For in this as in other trades women are not handicapped only by a want of skill, and if they attended classes, presumably they would be taught chiefly the arts and crafts side of bookbinding, and thus be led into branches of the trade at present undeveloped.

"Use and wont."

Moreover, a curious fact has to be kept in mind. Women workers are so lethargic that they are largely governed by use and wont. No remark is more frequent in the investigators' reports, than one to this effect, "That is men's work. Why? We do not know, but it is men's work, and we do not think about it." In some instances this use and wont is based on experience; in others, as in the backwardness of London employers in putting women to feed lithographic[Pg 53] machines, its rational explanation is not obvious.[50] In this respect the women themselves are very "loyal." "Once the employer wanted her," writes an investigator, "to varnish books, and offered her 5s. a book: she has a steady hand and could have done it quite well. It meant following a delicate zig-zag pattern with a paint brush. She refused indignantly, and said, 'I know my place and I'm not going to take men's work from them.'" And, again, a rigid sense of propriety, based on a certain amount of good reason, seems to determine many employers to separate male from female departments without further question.[51]

[50] Except perhaps, as has been suggested, that the premises where lithographic work is done are generally so unsuitable for the employment of women.

[51] A similar division exists in women's work; certain kinds are done by women of an inferior social grade, e.g., machine-feeding, and these are strictly kept at arm's length by women working in different departments in the same factory.

Girls v. Women.

So much is heard of women as rivals of men that we forget that women themselves are often preyed upon by still cheaper rivals, and the real value of technical training for women seems to lie in the fact that such training might protect them against these. Owing to the unskilled nature of their work, however, even technical education can afford to them only an unsatisfactory security against younger and cheaper persons. One of the investigators, for instance, reports:—

"It is the regular custom in A.'s now to have little girls at 3s. and 4s. a week doing work which women at 11s. and 12s. ought to do. They put a little girl beside a regular hand, and as soon as the little one masters the work [show-card mounting is being reported upon], they discharge the big one. When the little one asks for a rise, they give her 6d. or 1s. more, and when she wants still more, she goes." Figures follow showing that just under one-ninth of the women employed in this department at A.'s are "old hands." Then the report proceeds: "A. discharged about forty hands on the plea of slackness a little while ago, and then put up bills for learners." The investigators found that amongst the employées there was a very widespread opinion that "the learners always get all the best work," and that one of the regular features of [Pg 54] the trade is, that it employs a large fluctuating number of learners, whilst a smaller number of skilled hands are kept in tolerably regular work.[52]

[52] This, however, is not a problem special to women's work, but is one of general industrial conditions, although it is marked with special distinctness in the case of women.

The old hands occasionally object to teach the young ones, but nothing comes of their opposition to a system by which they are compelled to train their own executioners.

[Pg 55]



How girls are taught.

At the present moment such training as is given generally begins in the workshops so soon as the girl has left school.[53] Girls are, in the best houses, employed on the recommendation of workers already there. Much of the work, such as folding, is merely a matter of mechanical quickness and accuracy, and after a few weeks' practice the girl is as useful as she is ever likely to have an opportunity to be. A great deal of the work women do in stationery factories (such as stamping, black bordering, numbering pages) is of a routine nature, and this work is generally paid by the piece. For such departments, no premium is asked as a rule.[54] Sometimes the beginner is paid a small wage—2s. 6d. or thereabouts—to encourage her at first. Sometimes she works a few weeks for nothing.[55] Sometimes she has [Pg 56] to pay a tuition fee to the woman under whose charge she is put. Sometimes this woman gives her a small sum as a gift in respect of the help she renders. Some firms make the training period fairly long, in order that it may be impossible for the lower class of girls to accept the conditions of employment. By-and-by the learner is paid half of what she earns, and finally she is put on regular piecework, her advancement depending on her nimbleness. If she is in a large house she is only taught one process, but if quick, and employed in a smaller house, she may be taught several. In almost every instance she is put upon piecework as soon as possible after she begins. In an overwhelming number of cases the beginners are simply placed beside a regular hand, and pick up their skill by watching the old hand and then turning and doing it themselves. The girl who "picked up vellum-sewing[Pg 57] and wire-stitching" whilst engaged as a folder, and she who was transferred from tie-making to stitching and folding, are types. The phrase "serving her time" survives, but the apprenticeship which is indicated hardly now exists.

[53] "A boy learns nothing after fifteen, a girl after fourteen," is the way one employer puts it.

[54] Very few premiums are reported upon. In one case it was said that £10 were asked as a premium in relief stamping, but the informant admitted that the sum varied; in another well-known stationery firm a premium of £2 is asked for, but is returned with 5 per cent. interest at the end of three years. The premiums of £50 or £100 charged by certain bookbinding teachers are of course quite special.



Paging Department.—Girls come for a few months for nothing, i.e. six months, no premium. They go on getting quicker.

Lithographic Department.—Girls come in and pick it up: show one another how to do it.

Vellum-binding Department.—Girls come for three years and are paid 5s. per week.


Copybook and similar Work.—"Has several little girls running about on errands for a few shillings a week, and if any of them seem promising they are helped on. Training nothing like what it used to be; girls learn only one branch."


Vellum-sewing Department.—"Regular apprenticeship still the system here." Three years given as the period for training and during this time no wages are paid. Girls come straight from school.

Folding, etc., Department.—"No regular apprenticeship. Girls come in and pick it up; if quick they are taught other branches, like numbering, relief stamping, etc."


Envelope Folding and Hand-cementing Department.—"Girls are put under an experienced party to whom they pay 10s. For six weeks, they receive nothing. For next six weeks they receive half earnings, then they are put on piecework."

Black Bordering.—"A regular hand teaches and gets any benefit of the work during six months in return for the time she wastes in teaching." This practice is also adopted in some firms in envelope folding by hand.


Bookbinding Department.—"System of indenture has just been revived because it was found that otherwise the firm had no hold over the girls, so that the quick ones as soon as they had learnt went off elsewhere as full earners." Indenture for two years.

An ex-forewoman in bookbinding, who knew the London trade well, stated that much less trouble is taken with learners now than formerly. In her own case she was apprenticed without indentures for two years, and learned "all the branches right through," old work included.

Another forewoman in work stated she was in training for four years: two years at bookbinding, one year at vellum work, and one year at stationery.

Of the firms about which we have information for bookwork and printers' folding, seven require a three years' training; twenty, two years; thirty-three, one and a half years; nineteen, one year; two, fifteen months; and seven, periods under a year. Eleven firms have no settled apprenticeship time, advancement depending entirely on the quickness of the learner. In places where gold laying-on is done the same time is usually served as for the other branches, i.e., from a few weeks to three years. In the case of vellum work, seven firms require three years; eight, two years; three, one and a half years; one, one and a half to two years; two, six months; and eight, no settled time.

In some of these firms, however, a genuine attempt to teach apprentices is made;[56] and in at least one large and well-known London house the system of indenture has been revived, owing to the difficulty which was experienced in retaining girls after they became competent. On the other hand, several wellknown firms have ceased to employ learners because they are too troublesome, and depend upon women trained elsewhere. But we have found that in only a very few cases is the beginner, whether an apprentice or not, thoroughly taught every process of her trade. She is generally put to one process and kept at it, so that the mechanical dexterity she may acquire is in no [Pg 58] sense genuine trade skill.[57] This distinction between trade skill and mechanical dexterity in one process must be kept in mind as a fundamental consideration in every problem concerning the woman wage-earner.

[56] Apprenticeship is still common in vellum-sewing where skill and intelligence are required, and in places where women are doing more than supplementary work, e.g. Edinburgh, a regular period of training varying from two to four years is agreed upon. Apprenticeship seems to be most common in Scotland. In London our investigation into vellum work, printers' folding, and bookwork only discovered seven indentured women apprentices, two of these being engaged in vellum work. Curiously enough in paper-staining firms, although the processes are practically unskilled, indentures are signed for two years; the girl receives 4s. a week for the first year and a portion of her piece earnings for the second year. At the end of two years she is a full wage-earner and is paid by piece rates. What her earnings are it is difficult to discover; 12s. 6d. was given as an average, but this is probably too high. It is reported that she may make 6d. in less than an hour when the colours are mixed and she is finishing a job, whereas next day she will spend the whole morning before she earns her 6d.

[57] E.g., one of the large stationery firms in London reports regarding machine ruling: "Girls come in and feed the machinery, and afterwards rise to wet the flannel. They never mind the machines, e.g., arrange pens and so on." Another interesting note is, "Men nearly always do illuminating, e.g., stamping crests, etc., in more than one colour, on notepaper, as the process requires more skill than women possess. If the women did it, the ladies would not like their notepaper." An employer defended the employment of women on the grounds of his own experience of one woman who "had been working at a secret process for years, and there is no fear of the secret being betrayed as she is without understanding or interest for the machine."

The question of how much a girl learns during her time is a vital one. Much depends on the forewoman. As one of the workers put it, "How much you learn depends on the forelady, and whether she takes a fancy to you; some girls will have a turn at everything, others only learn sewing or folding. Dress makes a great difference; the poorer you are, the less chance you have of getting on."

The obverse of this from the forewoman's point of view is that "girls if quick are taught all branches, but with some girls it is all you can do to teach them one." It seems the general opinion amongst all the older hands that the "training is not what it used to be;" and, certainly, the few instances we have come across of women who can do bookwork, vellum work, and also stationery work, are amongst the older hands. The complaint, however, that the trade was not properly taught, occurs in the evidence given to the Commission of 1843, when it seemed to be one of the principal grievances complained of. Masters, it was said by one worker, often took girls, pretended to teach them, and discharged them at the end of their time, when they had to go elsewhere to learn. Three girls gave evidence that they were tricked into serving from three to eight months for nothing, and came away no wiser. At another shop the employer expatiated on the thoroughness of the training offered by him; but seven of his journeywomen, aged nineteen, eighteen, seventeen, and sixteen, declared indignantly that they had not learnt their business thoroughly, and would never have gone to him if they had known his methods. The truth [Pg 59] apparently is that in 1843, as to-day, some firms are better for apprentices than others, and that a generation ago a good firm doing general work offered better opportunities for training than good firms conducted under up-to-date conditions can now give.

The following table shows the changes that have been made in the conditions of apprenticeship by certain leading London firms.


[x] This information was procured in 1901.

Period Premium
Wages (per week)
1867 Commission 2 years
25 years ago 2 years No premium 12 months no pay.
15 years ago 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
6 months no pay,
12 months half pay.
At present time[x] 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 2s.,
12 months half pay.
20 years ago 2 years No premium;
no indentures
1 year no pay,
1 year half pay.
Till recently 1 year No premium;
no indentures
6 months no pay,
6 months half pay
At present time 15 months No premium;
no indentures
6 months 2s.,
9 months half pay.
Till recently 2 years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 1s.,
6 months 2s. 6d.,
6 months 4s.,
6 months half pay.
At present time 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 2s. 6d.,
6 months 4s.,
6 months half pay.
21 years ago 3 years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 1s.,
12 months 3s.,
18 months 6s.
At present time 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 1s.,
12 months 3s.
25 years ago 3 years No premium;
no indentures
18 months 2s.,
18 months half pay.
At present time 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
1 month no pay,
5 month 2s.,
12 months half pay.
40 years ago 2 years No premium;
no indentures
12 months half pay,
12 months three-quarter pay.
At present time 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
12 months half pay,
6 months three-quarter pay.
40 years ago 2 years No premium;
no indentures
12 months half pay,
12 months three-quarter pay.
30 years ago 2 years No premium;
no indentures
No pay part,
2s. 6d. remainder.
At present time 2 years No premium;
no indentures
Half pay.
20 years ago 1½ years No information 1 year 1s.,
6 months half pay.
At present time 2 years No premium;
no indentures
12 months 3s.,
12 months 4s.
22 years ago 1 year No premium;
no indentures
3 months no pay,
9 months 1s.
At present time 2 years No premium;
no indentures
6 months 2s.,
18 months half pay.
25 years ago 1 year No premium;
no indentures
1 year no pay.
At present time 1 year No premium;
no indentures
6 months 1s.,
6 months 2s. or 3s.
10 years ago 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
6 months no pay,
1 year half pay.
At present time 1½ years No premium;
no indentures
9 months 2s. 6d.,
9 months 5s.

[Pg 60]

The important point, however, is not so much the nominal length of apprenticeship, but the fact that the work which an "apprentice" now does is less educative than it was, and that wage-earning considerations now enter at an earlier stage into the apprentice's thoughts.

[Pg 61]

The learner as workwoman.

The low wages paid to learners offer great temptations to employers to set these extra cheap workgirls upon certain "fat" kinds of work. Some kinds of work, e.g., gathering, have thus come to be regarded as learners' perquisites, and in one extreme instance a worker made as much money when a learner on half pay as she did subsequently on whole pay.[58]

[58] These figures from typical houses showing proportions of learners and journeywomen are interesting:—

Workers. Learners.
A. 75 14
B. 87 19
C. 7 3
D. 8 3
E. 12 11
F. 26 20

These houses are engaged in various kinds of bookbinding and printing.

In several cases we have been able to trace the exact amount gained by the employer:—

1. A. in the last sixteen weeks of her half-pay period made £3 18s. 6d., an average of 4s. 10¾d. per week. For the next sixteen weeks, when a full hand, her average was 9s. 8d.

2. B. in twenty-three weeks before she became a full hand made £4 9s. 10d., or an average of 3s. 10¾d. per week. During the next twenty-three weeks her average was 7s. 0-½d., a few pence less than double.

3. C. in fifty-one weeks made £15 5s.d., practically 6s. per week; if on full wage, her average would have been 11s. 11½d.

4. D. in thirty-seven weeks made £10 19s.d., practically 6s. per week; if on full wage her average would have been 11s. 10½d.

5. E. in forty-seven weeks made £14 9s.d., or 6s. 2d. per week; if on full pay her average would have been 12s.d.

6. F. in forty-three weeks made £12 12s. 3d., 5s.d. per week; if on full pay her earnings would have been 11s.d.

It is obvious that when a worker is sufficiently expert to make an average of 11s. or 12s. on full pay, it is a great temptation to save on the bills by giving her as much work as possible at half-price. The employer looks upon this profit as the return made to him for teaching the girl, or, to speak more[Pg 62] correctly, for allowing her to pick up the trade in his shop. It really means that a heavy premium is being paid in instalments. Possibly, when small fixed wages are paid, the employer's profits are even higher, but in that case the learner has not that temptation to sacrifice quality to quantity, and to be content with "slapdash" work which is the inevitable consequence of a piecework system worked under such conditions, and which is specially injurious to the young hands.


The training given to women compositors varies very much. As is well known, boys are apprenticed to this trade for seven years at wages which usually begin at 8s. a week, and rise 2s. a year. In some cases, however, a proportion of their piece-rate earning is given in addition.

When Miss Faithfull started the Victoria Press, girls were indentured for four years, and paid a premium of ten guineas. During the first six months they received nothing; for the remaining three and a half years they were given two-third piece rates. By 1869, when Mr. Head was running the business, this system had been changed. In an article in the Printers' Register for October 6th, 1869, we read that at the Victoria Press, apprenticeship, "a relic of the ignorance and shortsightedness of our forefathers, which is maintained in our own day chiefly by the prejudices of Trades Unions, is entirely abolished. Girls begin to earn at once," with the consequence that the work is much better. The Women's Printing Society started with an apprenticeship of three or four years, the wages rising from 2s. 6d. to 10s.

At the present time the training varies in different houses, from one where the girls are regularly indentured for four years, pay a premium of £5, and receive 4s. for the first year and 5s., 6s., 7s. a week in the ensuing years, to one where, with a premium of three guineas, the training lasts for three months only, and the worker is put on piecework after that period.

Two women compositors who had served for four years gave it as their opinion that two years were sufficient to learn; during the remaining years "you are expected to do as much as a full hand and get only half wages."

It is obvious, however, that much depends on the amount of work taught, and the complaint is reiterated over and over again that girls will only learn the easy, plain work: "they want to make money at once."

[Pg 63]

Women and technical classes.

Enquiries were addressed to the Secretaries of Technical Education Committees in every town in the kingdom where the printing and kindred trades are of any importance, asking—

"1. Whether, in connection with your technical and other schools, any provision is made for the training of women in the bookbinding or in any of the printing or stationery trades;

"2. Whether the classes have been attended by any numbers of women; and

"3. Whether you have received at any time from employers statements showing the effect of such classes upon these trades?"

Seventeen replied that no provisions were made, six that the matter was under consideration, but only in one case was it stated that classes had been opened, and then the women had not taken advantage of them. The London County Council Technical Education Board has had only one application (to which it could not accede [59]) from a woman who desired to attend bookbinding classes.

[59] The woman was an amateur who had no connection with the trade, and the Board refused admission on that ground. See this Board's Special Report on Technical Instruction of Women.

This shows that in these trades the school, so far as women are concerned, has not yet been brought into contact with the workshop. Nominally the classes are open to women actually engaged in the trade, but women do not attend. This seems to be partly owing to the attitude of the men, and partly owing to the lack of interest on the part of the woman worker in the few facilities afforded to her by Technical Education Committees.

The Home Arts and Crafts Association and kindred movements have taught women amateurs bookbinding and leather work in a good many centres, but this training has had no general industrial effect. The Association for the Employment of Women has offered facilities for the training of women in working the linotype, but it has met with but scanty response. "It is work which needed more skill," said one employer, "than women possessed."[60]

[60] We have heard since this was written that women are employed on linotype machines in a prosperous provincial newspaper and general printing office.

Here again we have had evidence of the most conclusive nature to show that the work of women is special in its[Pg 64] simplicity, and that the craftswoman is hardly to be found anywhere. And they seem to have accepted the position, and make no attempt to move out of it.[61]

[61] This note is typical of a good many which occur in the reports of the investigators. "There are two girls now on the black-bordering machine whom the forewoman has offered to teach to place out by hand, but they won't learn it; it is too much trouble."


Some explanation is required for the fact that women have so little ambition to become skilled, especially seeing that their lack of technical knowledge and their willingness to remain at work which is merely mechanical, i.e., folding, etc., explain their low wages, casual employment, and careless organisation.

Marriage as an industrial influence.

The physiological differences between men and women have sociological results. These differences have no doubt been exaggerated and emphasised by traditions of propriety, and the change of opinion indicated generally by the expression, "the woman movement," has done a great deal to bring down those differences to their natural proportions and relations. If certain claims of equality, such as women's suffrage, were generally accepted, men and women might tend to occupy a much more equal industrial status. But when all false emphasis and exaggeration have been removed, a considerable residuum of difference must remain.

The special status of the married woman will no doubt survive all readjustment of traditional modes of thought, and will tend to withdraw her mind from the steady pursuit of industrial efficiency, because she will never consider wage earning to be her special task in the world. That has tempted her hitherto to steer off from the currents in the mid-stream of industrial life, and float upon those that flow more sluggishly by the margin. Hence she has entered industry, not with expectations of long employment, but with hopes of a speedy release, and she has therefore been in haste to earn money at once, and unwilling to sink capital (either in time or money) in making herself efficient. She is found in the more mechanical and more easily acquired branches of work, and also in those which [Pg 65]provide no future for men,[62] and her willingness to take low wages has been her great protection against competing machinery. She has preferred to remain incompetent. "Out of twenty-six girls," is the report from the manager of a well-known firm for high-class artistic bookbinding, "not one could he trust as a forewoman."

[62] An interesting illustration of this is afforded by the recent employment of women in typefounding in London. London has not been a place where women were much employed in this industry. For twenty or thirty years girls have been employed in Edinburgh typefoundries, at certain processes through which the type, when cast, has to go, but they have been introduced only within the last year or two in London, to take the place of boys who could not be got because the work offers no very satisfactory prospects for them, and because the introduction of the linotype and mono-type threatens the future of the typefounding industry. Cf. Aberdeen, p. 47, Manchester and Birmingham, p. 50.

The lack of openings and ambition.

Moreover, this enquiry has shown that there is but little chance for women in these trades to improve themselves. Openings for responsible employment are few, and the ambition of the woman is not stirred by the possibility of material improvement as the reward of skill and industry. When responsible places become vacant, it is sometimes difficult to get women to consent to fill them. They seem to have little of that divine discontent which is the mainspring of progress. "They never ask for a rise as a man would, ... though after a time when they are useful, the firm would be quite willing to give one." "He finds that girls want to earn a certain wage. As a rule they will not take less, and they don't trouble to earn more." A Manchester correspondent reports: "There is very little chance of rising, and no particular desire for it, on the part of the ordinary girl, whose main aspirations are otherwise directed."

Reporting generally on her enquiries, an investigator writes: "The progressive young woman, eager to show that she is man's equal and can do man's work, seems to be a product of the middle classes. I never met girls with ambitions of that sort among the employees I talked with. On the other hand, I have met with cutting reproofs from forewomen and others in the bookbinding houses when I tried, in my innocence, to find out why they did not turn their hands to simple and easy processes which were being done by men. 'Why, that is man's work, and we shouldn't think of doing it!' is the usual answer[Pg 66] given with a toss of the head and a tone insinuating that there is a certain indelicacy in the question." Another investigator reports: "In a paper-staining department an attempt was once made to have a forewoman instead of a foreman over the girls, but she was not successful in watching the colours and had to be replaced by a man. The employer in consequence came to the conclusion that such a feat was beyond a woman's power, and the workers themselves are of the same opinion and scorn the idea of a forewoman."

Sex reputation.

Women in slowly increasing numbers seem to be settling down to a thorough industrial training, but except when they start businesses of their own, the general reputation of woman as workers, especially their liability to marry and leave, must permanently handicap the most efficient in search of employment.

Even the woman who has paid a premium of £50 or £100 for thorough instruction in the art of bookbinding is warned that "a worker cannot be taken on anywhere, but has to set up on her own account," and even then she often does not enter the regular open competitive market, but attaches certain customers to herself, owing to her special work.

The exceptional woman will always have to bear the burden of the average woman.

The questions put to employers upon this point received very emphatic replies: "It does not pay us to train women," they said in some form or another; "We only want them for simple processes such as folding, and if we tried to make them skilled in more complicated work they would leave us before we got the same return for our trouble as we get from men."

Physique, hours, etc.

The low standard of women's living also diminishes their stamina and strength, and though in the course of this enquiry we have not discovered any very serious complaint that women were irregular at their work owing to ill-health (a common complaint against women in offices), yet the drawback has been mentioned.

Moreover, it must be noted that when a girl's work in the workshop is finished she has often to go home to commence a new round of domestic tasks from which a boy is exempted. This aggravates the seriousness of her long hours of mechanical work as a wage-earner, and increases the difficulties placed in her way should she desire to attend evening technical classes.[Pg 67] The directors of several educational institutions and the teachers of technical classes for women have strongly urged this point upon us.

We have to face the fact that, for various reasons, in modern industrial society there is of necessity a tendency to specialise the work of men and women and centre the one in the workshop and the other in the home, and to incline women to take a place in industry second to their male relations. Hence, in the workshop women have hitherto been adjuncts to machines; they have taken up simple mechanical processes, and have shown little interest in complete series of industrial operations. They have picked up the arts, but have shunned the sciences. The factory and the workshop have been to them the scenes of "meanwhile" employment.

Gentility in trade.

In such circumstances one is not surprised to find such considerations as conventional gentility determining the branches of trade taken up by the women. The printing trades generally do not attract the most genteel girls, but there are grades within them. One informant says, "In Manchester, up to 1870, to be a folder was looked upon as being next door to being on the streets;" but now folders look down upon feeders. "Folding and sewing girls look down on the machine girls tremendously, and would not sit at the same table with them for anything." Perhaps the manager who said in a shocked tone of voice that "The women never care to talk of the Sunday's sermon" was hypercritical, but undoubtedly certain sections of these trades are staffed by rather rough specimens of women.

Then again, a folder, despised herself by those above her, is reported to "look down upon the litho and bronzing girls. They are of the very lowest class (she says), with hardly a shoe on their feet. They are on quite a different floor and have nothing to do with the folders." Or again, for reasons of gentility, girls prefer to become book-folders, where the hours are longer and the pay lower, rather than to become paper-bag makers. The distinction between these various sections is not similar to that between skilled and unskilled labour. The simple explanation is that amongst women engaged in industry convention is particularly potent in determining what trades are desirable and proper and what are not, so that when certain employments acquire a reputation for gentility, the others will be filled by a[Pg 68] goodly proportion of unassorted girls, and will ultimately acquire characteristics which appear to justify the feminine prejudices against them. It has been suggested that these notions of gentility have, as a matter of fact, a deeper significance, and that the favoured trades are the lighter ones. To some extent this is true. The heavier employments are staffed by a rougher class of women. But, as in the case of the Manchester folders cited above, fashions change, and we must recognise that reputation for gentility is a very important factor in determining the distribution of character amongst the trades. This appears to be the main reason why high wages do not always attract the better class of girls to certain kinds of employment, and also why there is a reluctance on the part of many self-respecting girls to enter a course of industrial training.

[Pg 69]



The printing and allied trades were not brought within the scope of legislation until Mr. Walpole's Factory Acts' Extension Act of 1867.

Conditions of employment, 1866.

The Commission on Children's Employment in 1866[63] first disclosed the fact that substantial abuses prevailed throughout the printing and kindred trades. Long hours, frequent nightwork, Sunday labour, irregularities regarding meal times, and insanitary conditions—such, roughly speaking, were the hardships which made it desirable to bring them under State supervision. Mr. Lord, who took an active part on these Commissions, said that the general state of printing houses in London was very bad; not only were the composing rooms generally overcrowded and ill-ventilated, but even machine rooms were often extremely dirty, close and unhealthy. He cites the case of a machine room, where the roof was so low that a hole was cut in the ceiling for the head of the boy who was "laying-on" to go through. "The heat of steam printing," says he, "is very deleterious in close cellars, such as many places in this town are."

[63] Children's Employment Commission, 1862-1866 (Report V.).

Speaking of the factories of wholesale stationers, the same witness says, "Many of the workrooms are ill-ventilated and overcrowded. The cubical contents of one large room measured by me were 136 ft. per head; those of another only 87 ft. per head."

With regard to hours, the Commissioners report: "These ordinary hours (viz., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for females, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. for men and boys) are from time to time exceeded to the extent of one or two hours, and sometimes more. In the case of those who bind for publishing houses the four or five winter months are the busy season, and the six weeks immediately [Pg 70] preceding Christmas those of the greatest pressure; at one such place work often continued from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. in those six weeks. The 'push' of 'magazine day' also affects this trade as it does the printer, keeping the workpeople for several days at the end of each month until 10 or 11 p.m., and on rare occasions till 1 or 2 a.m. The case of railway guides is even worse than that of magazines, for females sometimes have to work the whole night through till 6 a.m., returning to work at 10 on the same morning, and when the first of a month is on a Monday, work the whole of the preceding Sunday. On Sunday, April 30th this year, at one place twenty females worked from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and after a rest of two hours went on again through the night. Even girls of thirteen had worked in the same week once from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., and twice from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Another rather older (fourteen and a half) worked on one day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on the preceding day from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. A boy aged fourteen had worked two or three times in a week from 7 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. and three Sundays through."

"With paper-box makers," the Commissioners say, "it is not uncommon to make two or even three hours overtime (this after a day of from 9 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m.). For two months in spring and six weeks in autumn fourteen hours is the usual length of a female's working day. At one place females over fifteen are said to work constantly in the busy time from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., and in some places till 1 or 2 a.m., especially with 'little men' working at home with their family and two or three girls to help. These are instances of London work, but in Manchester the hours are even longer. One girl worked, at sixteen years old, night after night in succession, from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m.; the younger ones there worked from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.; at another place the same witness had frequently worked from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Another, at nine years old, worked from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. generally; she said that the older ones worked a good deal later than that. Some young women had worked on three or four occasions all the night through."

"Boys of fourteen and fifteen employed at making cardboard, have in some cases worked from 8 a.m. till 10 or 11 p.m. twice a week for four or five weeks running, but that is not general in the trade. Girls of that age have worked at making paper bags nearly every night for a similar period, till 10 or 11 p.m.[Pg 71] from 8 a.m., and were very much tired by it. As paper-box making is all handwork and paid for by the piece, it is not uncommon for work to go on in the meal hours—'they please themselves.'"

The following was the experience of one girl which she gave before the Commissioners. "I am thirteen; I have been here twelve months. Some of the girls worked all night last month for two nights together. I call 'till 4 in the morning' all night. We generally work one night till 4 a.m., and three or four nights till 12. My mother thought all night hurt me and so would not let me go on, but I work till 12. Last month I worked five times in the night till 12. It is only in that week; we get very tired towards the end of it."

With regard to the moral conditions of the workers the Commissioners reported: "The indiscriminate mixing of the sexes which still prevails in many workrooms is generally condemned. The evil of such a practice is especially conspicuous where they are late and irregular in their hours. The bad language and conduct of the boys is made the subject of very strong comment by two witnesses, who go so far as to say that there is a marked deterioration in this respect during the last ten years."

Again, "The younger children were in many cases unable to read. The evil of late and irregular work in letting women loose on the streets at all hours of the night is justly censured by an employer as necessarily leading to great immorality."

Legislation, 1867.

In consequence of the Report of the Commissioners, the Factory Act Extension Act, 1867, was passed. It applied specifically to any premises where paper manufacture, letter-press printing and bookbinding were carried on; and generally to any premises where fifty or more people were employed in any manufacturing process. The hours allowed for women and young persons were from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with intervals amounting to one and a half hours for meals; on Saturday, work had to cease at 2 p.m. By way of exception, women employed in bookbinding could work fourteen hours a day, provided that their total hours did not exceed sixty per week.

To those trades, such as litho-printing, that did not come under the above Act, was applied the Workshops Regulation Act of the same year, the provisions of which resembled, though they did not coincide with those of the foregoing enactment.[Pg 72] The same aggregate number of hours per day and week was established, but more elasticity was permitted in workshops, women and young persons being allowed to work in them for the hours specified at any time between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m., and until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Factory and Workshop Act, 1878.

The discrepancies in the regulations applying to different classes of work were productive of a good deal of inconvenience, and after the Commission of 1876 came the Factory and Workshop Act, 1878, having as its object the consolidation and amendment of the existing statutes with a view to rendering their administration more even and secure. The main provisions of the law as it now affects the printing and kindred trades were laid down, although since that date there have been various additions and amendments. By this Act a distinction was drawn between factories and workshops, the chief difference being that, in the former, machinery propelled by steam, water, or other mechanical power must be in use; while in the latter, no such agency must be employed. Certain classes of works, however, apart from all question of mechanical power, were defined as factories and not workshops. Under these came paper-staining works, foundries (including typefoundries), except premises in which such process was carried on by not more than five persons, and as subsidiary to the repair or completion of some other work—paper mills, letter-press printing works, and bookbinding establishments.

Factory and Workshop Act, 1901.

As regards hours of work and overtime, slight modifications have been effected by legislation subsequent to the year 1878, and the present state of the law as laid down in the Factory and Workshop Act, 1901, is as follows:—The regular hours for women and young persons except Saturday, are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., or 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with an allowance of one and a half hours for meals, one hour of such meal-time being before 3 p.m. On Saturday the period of employment may be 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with not less than half-an-hour for meals. But where a woman or young person has not been actually employed for more than eight hours on any day in a week, and notice of this has been affixed in the factory or workshop and served on the inspector, she may be at work on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an interval of not less than two hours for meals.

[Pg 73]

There are various special restrictions and exceptions applying to different classes of work. No protected person may take a meal or remain during meal-time in any part of a factory or workshop where typefounding is carried on, or where dry powder or dust is used in litho-printing, playing-card making, paper-staining, almanac-making, paper-colouring and enamelling. In certain industries, including printing, bookbinding, machine ruling and envelope making, women may work three days a week, and for thirty days during the year, two hours overtime, provided that such employment ceases at 10 p.m., and that they have two hours for meals. But this limit of overtime applies to the factory or workshop as a whole, and not to the overtime of individual workers.


The foregoing brief summary of the law has naturally preceded the question as to how far legislation has affected women in these particular trades. When restrictions are imposed upon the labour of any class of wage-earners, their economic position must be altered for good or evil, unless the trade can so adjust itself as to meet exactly the requirements of these restrictions. If the worker is of great importance, an effort will be made to adapt the trade to the novel conditions; if another class of workers or machinery, free from all restrictions, can be as easily used, it is probable that the labour affected will be ousted.

Has legislation displaced women?

Is there, then, evidence to show that any material displacement of women or girls in these trades followed the enforcement of factory legislation? Instances of dismissal must obviously be sought for soon after the Act of 1867, as the employer then knew on what terms he engaged his staff, and, except in a few cases where deliberate evasions of the law might be attempted, the effect of legislation would be to deter him from employing women, rather than lead him to dismiss them. Owing to the lapse of time, it is difficult to find out from those in the trade the immediate consequences of this Act, nor does the Commission of 1876 give much assistance. Of 103 employers questioned by us, not half a dozen remembered dismissing women in consequence of the new enactment.

One employer turned off ten or twelve women "folders" and[Pg 74] introduced machinery, alleging as his reason the want of elasticity in the Factory Act. His ordinary hours were from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but on certain days in the week it was necessary to begin work at 6 a.m. He made arrangements that the total number of hours should not exceed those sanctioned by the Act, but the variation was not allowed. If his women began work at 6 a.m. on any day, his hours had to be regularly 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except in the case of thirty nights in the year when overtime was permitted. As this did not suit his business, he dismissed the women and had recourse to folding machines. Personally he gained, as the machinery proved an economy, but it told hardly on the women, whom otherwise he would have kept on as they were old hands.

Another employer told a similar tale regarding the introduction of folding machinery, but stated that he had been obliged to dispense with female operatives by reason of the strict enforcement of the regulations regarding overtime only.

In both these cases it is clear that the state of the trade was such that it required only a very slight disability on the part of the worker to make it worth while for the employer to use machinery.

Quite apart from any effect of legislation the machine was destined to supplant manual labour; its advent was merely accelerated by the Act. Its first introduction caused isolated cases of hardship, but its ultimate results were beneficial. Thus at the present day women and girls are largely employed upon the very machines which once seemed to threaten their industrial existence.

The case of women compositors.

In the Economic Journal of 1899 an interesting paper by Miss Bradby and Miss A. Black discusses the position of women compositors in Edinburgh, and deals with the subject of legislation. After an exhaustive investigation, no single instance was discovered of the displacement of a woman by a man owing to the Factory Acts.

The chief contention of those who oppose special factory legislation on the ground that it limits the usefulness of women compositors is, that women are not employed on newspaper work, and they give the legal prohibition of nightwork for women as the reason. Careful enquiry has shown that reason to be purely imaginary. Women are not employed on evening papers, though the factory law does not stand in their way.[Pg 75] In the provinces women set-up one or two weekly or bi-weekly journals, the firms employing them preferring them solely on the ground of cheapness. Experience shows that women are not suited for newspaper work, unless the paper does not appear more frequently than, say, twice a week, and if the factory code disappeared to-morrow, morning daily newspapers would afford to women compositors no fresh openings.

Have their opportunities been limited?

As regards the further point whether more women would be employed if they were unprotected by law, the views of representative employers and managers of labour are here set forth.

Out of thirty-five,[64] twenty-eight were emphatic in their assurance that the Factory Acts did not affect the question. Seven, on the other hand, were inclined to think otherwise. Of these, five were unable to say that they really would employ more women if freed from restrictions, but two of them thought that "there might be something in it," though the point had "never occurred to them before." Only three of them were of the opinion emphatically that legislation was certainly one amongst the obstacles to the employment of women.

[64] These are the firms interviewed by Miss Bradby and Miss A. Black as above.

When, on the other hand, we turn to the opinions of those acquainted with the conditions of the trade, either as workers (chiefly women) or Trade Union officials, we find practical unanimity. The eighteen persons[65] of this description questioned were strong in their declarations that the employment of women was not affected by the Factory Acts. To most of them, indeed, the idea of any harmful connection between the two was novel and ridiculous. This of course proves nothing; but if legislation had, to any considerable extent, hampered the work of women, the women themselves would doubtless have become aware of it.

[65] Compositors only.

The evidence available leads to the conclusion that, except in a few small houses, the employment of women as compositors has not been affected by the Factory Acts.

Legislation and home work.

The earlier stages during which the protection conferred by the Legislature was enforced, were marked by attempts on the part of certain employers to evade the spirit of the law by means of home work.[66]

[66] See pp. 99-101.

[Pg 76]

One example of this practice was given by the Rev. H. W. Blunt in his evidence before the Commission of 1876. He says that much work was sent to be completed after factory hours. For instance, in one book-folding firm which had occasional rushes of work, a girl was employed till 11 p.m. on the Monday before Christmas. She was then told with the other girls that they must take home 1,000 quarto sheets to fold by the morning. Several did so, but she refused, because her mother was on the point of death, and the doctor said there must not be a light in the room. She was consequently dismissed at once. Mr. Blunt says further that religious "weeklies," the sheets of which came off the press at 12 o'clock at night, were sent out to be folded by 8 a.m. They were taken away in perambulators, children being employed to do this every week.

Work sent to "folding houses."

Another immediate result of legislation was the expedient of sending out work to "folding houses" which did not come within the definition of a factory or workshop. Such places may be premises belonging to a factory and yet separate from it. Mr. Henderson, of the Factory Department, in giving evidence before the Commission of 1876, says: "Some years ago I came across Messrs. X., where newspapers were folded wholesale by steam machinery, and I thought it was a factory. Messrs. X. resisted the idea. Boys were employed at irregular hours, but the Crown officers decided that it was not a factory." Christmas card packing and sorting are in the same position. Miss Deane, a lady factory inspector, who made a special investigation into the conditions of the Christmas card industry as recently as 1899, points out that many of the workplaces are outside the operation of the Act.

In the Report on Factories and Workshops for 1899, she says: "A large number of Christmas cards, almanacs, etc., are made in Germany and are sent to England, where girls are employed in sorting and repacking and arranging them, for the purpose of being sold wholesale. Such places, unless attached to some factory or workshop, being unregulated by the Act, the girls are without the protection afforded by the law regarding length of hours, meal-times, etc. It was impossible not to be struck by the difference between the conditions found in one such place and those found in the large airy sorting[Pg 77] rooms of a publishing factory close by—yet the girls in the stuffy workroom of the former were without the protection given by the law in the latter workplace. A curious instance arose in connection with one such place where about forty girls had been employed in packing and sorting for illegal hours. The occupier took to employing some of them in affixing a minute bow of ribbon to the cards, and during this temporary employment all the girls could claim and were accorded the protection of the Factory Acts. Excessive hours in hitherto unsuspected workrooms were also found to be worked in the processes of adapting and preparing bonbons for sale. In some cases, baskets, boxes and bags, were trimmed for the reception of these articles, in others they were merely selected and arranged in patterns in fancy boxes subsequently tied up with ribbon. In the first case clearly, and in the last also probably, the definition of workshop under the Act applies. Instructions were given and better conditions have gained the day." Speaking of these unregulated workplaces, in the same report, Miss Deane remarks: "In the course of some inspections after midnight last winter near the City, I came across several of these workplaces where women, girls and children, were then at work under deplorable conditions—dirty rooms, foul, gassy air, and overcrowding. In one of them I was met by the observation that 'I might come in if I liked, but I could do nothing there.'"

The experience of two of our investigators corroborates the above statement. One of them says: "At about 2.45 a.m. we went to see newspapers folded by women in the City. It was done in an old tumble-down room opposite a printing shop. We peeped in through a chink in the shutters—it was a boiling night, and the shutters were closed—and we could see a man carrying in a load of paper from time to time. When we entered we found four women streaming with perspiration in the foul hot atmosphere, folding away at the ... News. They were quite friendly and communicative, and told us they came every Thursday night about 11 p.m. and stayed till they had done. They were paid three times as much as day-workers and did no regular work in the daytime. Before beginning work they had a cup of tea. They said they liked the work and were glad that the Factory Act could not stop them; the police had been round to them and also two young ladies, but nothing had[Pg 78] happened; and they considered that they were quite old enough to do nightwork if they liked."

Folding houses are growing fewer in number owing, no doubt, to the fact that rent is so high in the City and space so valuable, that it is not worth while to erect them separate from a factory. Viewed also with dislike by factory inspectors as a means of evading the law, their tenure of life is not likely to be long.


Employers admit that the effect of the Factory Acts has been to make them reduce nightwork. In criticising the Act before the Commission of 1876, Mr. Bell, of the firm of Darton, Bell and Thomas, bookbinders, says: "The Factory Act of 1867 has been a boon to employers and employed, because it has enabled us to put pressure on customers. Now we can say to the public 'We can't go beyond certain hours,' and, therefore, work not new has to be sent in earlier."

Mr. Darton, of the same firm, adds: "We have persuaded booksellers to give out stock work in June and July instead of September or October, and so begin the work earlier and avoid nightwork." This stimulus is undoubtedly good, and these views are echoed by other employers.

The whole question of how far the practical prohibition of overtime for women has limited the volume of work available for them, and thus diminished their aggregate wages, needs very careful consideration, as mistaken conclusions may easily be formed. The matter was carefully considered by a Committee of the Economic Section of the British Association, appointed in 1901, to enquire into the effect of special legislation on women, and the following extracts from its final report[67] are of some interest:—

"A very important, perhaps from the economic point of view the most important, effect of legislation has been to spread the period of work more uniformly through the week, month, and year than had been the case before regulation" (p. 5).

"The tendency to put off giving orders to the last moment is easily checked when the customer can be met with a universal legal prohibition" (p. 7).

"Restriction is met by adaptation of manufacture or [Pg 79] rearrangement of numbers employed and time at which work is done, women being still employed at the work" (p. 13).

"Except for a few complaints as to the abolition of the possibility of payment for overtime, which, as has been pointed out, by no means prove any loss of earnings ... the Committee have no record ... of any loss of wages or earnings traceable to the [Factory] Acts" (p. 25).

[67] Presented at Southport in 1903.

Thus, it will be seen that the loss of overtime is not necessarily a loss of work, but a re-distribution (and an economical one, too) of the times at which work is done, and does not therefore mean a loss in income, but a steadying and regulation of income.

Nevertheless, before the re-organisation which has been consequent on Factory legislation, overtime and nightwork were necessary in order to turn out a certain volume of trade by a certain number of workpeople, and the influence of restrictive legislation has been shown in the following directions:—

1st. An increase in the class of workers called "job hands";

2nd. An enlargements of the permanent staff;

3rd. A rearrangement of the employment of male and female labour.

The third of these changes we have found to be practically imperceptible, whilst the second has affected women most beneficially.

The job hand.

On the margin of casual and regular labour the job hand stands—the reserve battalion of this section of the labour army. She is generally a married woman, and commonly the wife of a faulty husband. She does not want regular work, and only desires to earn a certain limited wage. When she goes to a factory in search of work, she has to wait idle for hour upon hour, but she generally stays at home until summoned by her forewoman. Certain kinds of cheap seasonal work as, for instance, penny almanacs, are almost exclusively done by her,[68] and she is commonly employed either periodically, e.g., for weekly papers and monthly magazines, or casually, e.g., prospectus work, for rushes. A notice in certain public-houses, or information supplied to certain known agents, brings her to the place where she is wanted.

[68] "The majority of the almanac makers are married women who stay at home from February to July": Leeds.

[Pg 80]

Job hands existed before 1867, but at that time they did not hold quite the same position in the trade as they do now. They were the hands who went to different firms for two or three nights a month to help in a recognised rush of work which occurred regularly. In the Commissioners' Report for 1876, mention is made several times of job hands who were employed quite regularly for definite pieces of work at definite times during the month. Firms publishing certain weekly papers were in the habit of employing women in folding during the early hours of the morning before distributing the papers to the newsagents. Firms which printed monthly magazines needed women to fold all night for two or three nights or more at the end of each month. Such employment naturally came to an end as soon as the Act of 1867 came into operation; but the job hand only changed her hours. It became necessary during rushes of work to call in extra hands, in order to comply with the clauses of the Act, and many firms solved the difficulty by employing job hands during the day instead of at night, for a few days to meet the emergency.[69] This work was generally taken up by married women who had served in the trade before marriage, and who were glad to get a few days' employment from time to time.

[69] But this is not the invariable rule. A manager of a firm dealing largely in magazines and periodical issues says: "The effect of legal restrictions on our business is to make women work hard for two weeks and slacken off for two weeks. There is no thought of giving the work to men, or of sending it home, or of employing job hands."

Increase of permanent staff.

The second method of solving the difficulty—by employing a larger permanent staff—involves the erection of more extensive premises, and can only be adopted by firms whose financial position enables them to meet a considerable outlay. It is probably the best means for ensuring that work shall be done efficiently for the employer, and conducted under the most favourable conditions for the employed.

Nightwork and overtime.

But there still remains a slight residuum of nightwork which has to be done by men. To this extent, and to this extent only, can restriction be said to have hindered the employment of women.

We have tried to ascertain how much this really means to the women workers. Thirty-three firms stated that work of the same character as that performed by women in the daytime[Pg 81] was sometimes given out to men at night. We cannot, however, assume that the work is always given to men on account of legal restrictions, and it does not follow that the abolition of such restrictions would induce all masters to introduce women for nightwork. Several of them, indeed, emphatically deny that they would adopt this practice; and in some instances we have been told that it was not observed in the best firms before the law prohibited it, e.g., "Mr. A. remembers the time before the Act of 1867 (he has been in the trade since 1851). He could have worked women at night, but never would because of questions of morality."

These statements are, however, only part of the case, because nightwork is generally overtime, and we must consider how far employers care to practise it.

There seems to be an almost unanimous opinion against overtime, and any mention of factory legislation appears to suggest overtime at once to both employers and employed. Experience has driven it home to them that overtime is a most uneconomical method of work;[70] and as there does not appear to be any demand for women's labour at night except occasionally as overtime, the factory law in this respect is only a protection to the employée engaged by the employer who is still experimenting with this unproductive use of labour.

[70] "When the factory (now a large provincial lithographer's, almanac maker's, etc.), was a small one, and it employed only a few hands, they used to work a great deal of overtime. They used all the time they were allowed by the Factory Acts and sometimes tried to get in more. But now they do not find it pays to work overtime."

It is of some importance to note that a responsible spokesman for the men engaged in London houses informed one of our investigators that when men are put on at night to fold "they take it easy, and six men do in two hours what two women do in two hours. They don't bother to walk up and down gathering, but sit at it in a row, and hand sheets on from one to the other."

Testimony of employers.

Some employers, like Mr. Bell,[71] admit candidly enough that legislation enables them to be more humane (and humanity in this respect pays) than they could otherwise afford to be. The Act is "a great relief," such an employer has said. "Legislation is an excellent thing; existing hours are quite long enough. If a person has not done her work by the time they are up, she never will do it." "The Factory Acts[Pg 82] are a very good thing," another has said. "Long hours diminish the output"; or again: "Factory legislation is a capital thing; I only wish it could be extended to men." "Women are not so strong as men, and therefore the law rightly steps in." "I think it would be very inadvisable to employ women at night. I think legislation a very good thing. Overtime is not really worth it." "Legislation is a very good thing. I don't believe in long hours. Employers are often shortsighted and think that workers are like machines—the longer you work them the more they do, but this is not really the case; if they work from 9 to 7 they have done as much as they are good for." "The good done by the Factory Acts has quite outweighed any evils or hardships." Another employer remarked: "I shouldn't like my own daughter to do it, and I don't see why other women should do so. I should think it a very bad thing for women to go home in the early hours of the morning." On hearing that restrictions were objected to on the score that they hindered the employment of women, he replied scathingly that it was rubbish, but that "ladies must have something to talk about."

[71] Cf. p. 78.

From this it is evident that protection is viewed favourably by many employers, on the specific ground that it prevents systematic overtime. On the whole, they are of the opinion that nightwork is harmful to women, and that after overtime the next day's work suffers. Some are doubtful whether they would employ women at night even if the law permitted it. Nightwork, they assert, is unfit for women, not merely on account of the harm to health, but because of the insult and temptation to which they are exposed in going home. Whether these views would have been held so generally before the passing of the Factory Acts it is not possible to say; probably the results have justified the Act, and experience has provided moral reasons for legal limitations.

Such in the main is the attitude of employers towards legislation. Of 103 who expressed an opinion, twenty-six stated that legislation had not affected women's labour at all, sixty considered it to have been beneficial, and seventeen looked on all legislation as grandmotherly and ridiculous—one among these thinking that legislation was all very well, and much needed in the City, but that Southwark should be free from[Pg 83] interference. The attitude of those employers who objected to interference was expressed generally in some such way as that it was "unnecessary" for their trade at least, even if desirable for others. Pressed to explain what "unnecessary" meant, they said that women could take care of themselves; that protection was all very well for young girls, but when women arrived at the age of forty or fifty they could do what they liked; that it was hard on women that they should not be allowed to work day and night as well; that women could stand overtime just as well as men; and, finally, that legislation pressed very severely on the employer, who had to use the more expensive medium for doing nightwork, viz., men.

Such is the attitude of these employers, and it is fairly well expressed in the following quotation from The Stationery Trades' Journal, September, 1880:—

"We report in another column a case in which Messrs. Pardon & Co. were summoned for an offence under the Factory Acts. Four women were employed during the night to fold a periodical which is printed by Messrs. P. The youngest of the four women was a married woman of thirty-five, whose husband is unable to work, and she, like the rest, prized the job because it afforded the means of earning a little extra money for the support of her family. Under the pretence of protecting these women, the law steps in and says: 'Your families may starve or go to the workhouse, but you shall not work overtime or go beyond the limits prescribed by the Act. You cannot be trusted with the care of your own health. You may fast as much as you like; it will do you good and help your children to grow up stalwart men and women—but you shall not endanger your health by working too many hours at a time.' This in substance is what the law does for women. As regards the employment of children and young persons, the Act is no doubt beneficial, but surely women of thirty-five and forty do not need the same legislative protection as children. A great deal of sentimental nonsense is written and spoken by benevolent busybodies without practical knowledge of the subjects with which they meddle; and one of the results is the application of the Factory Acts to women who are old enough to judge for themselves. In the case alluded to there was more real benevolence in providing work for women than in limiting their hours of employment." As a contrast to these opinions, the[Pg 84] views on overtime expressed in the Factory Inspector's Report for 1899 are worth noting:—

"The prohibition of overtime for young persons imposed by Section 14 of the Factory Act of 1895 has, in my opinion, proved to be the most beneficial clause of that Act. It has, moreover, been carried out without any serious interference with trade and without causing much difficulty to the inspectors.

"The further restriction in the same clause of the overtime employment of women by reducing the number of times on which it may be worked in any twelve months from forty-eight to thirty was also a step in the right direction. If overtime were abolished altogether except for preserving perishable articles, the season trades would soon accommodate themselves to doing without overtime in the same way that the cotton, woollen, linen and silk manufacturing trades have done, for they also are season trades."

Opinion of employées.

Among the older workers in the trade are men and women who remember conditions before the passing of the 1867 Act, and the experience of some of them and the comparison they make between work done before and after the Act is worthy of note.

A. used to work till 10 every night when she first entered the trade. She was glad when the Act was passed to get home early, and never liked working late.

B. used to work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. regularly, including Saturdays. Frequently she had to work till 10 or 12 and sometimes to begin at 5 a.m. The "young governor" used to take her and some of the other girls home at night as they were afraid to go alone. She disliked overtime, was tired out at the end of a day's work, and thought the other women were too, and she had often noticed how badly the work was done after eight or nine hours at it. Later on, as a forewoman, she noticed that the girls after overtime always loafed about the next day and did not work well. Some women liked overtime, but she noticed it was always those who spent the extra money earned on drink. She did not think that work had gone from the women in consequence of factory legislation, but thought that married women were employed for a little while during a rush of work where before the regular hands were kept working late. She remembered how tiresome it was for the married women to[Pg 85] get home in time to fetch their babies from the crêches when the hours were from 8 to 8.

C. has often heard her mother-in-law say that as a girl she constantly worked all night and then had to work just the same the next day. She used to consider that to get home at 7 on Saturday was early, and now every young lady looks forward to her Saturday afternoon. Workpeople have a much better time than they used to. There were no proper meal hours. She used to get "just a snack between her work."

D. remembers that when they were busy they had to work all night and all the day before and the next day too. They used to work on Sundays and were given a glass of gin. She never knew anyone who wanted to do nightwork, and thinks eight and a half hours quite long enough for anyone to work, especially when there is housework, too, when one gets home.

E. remembers the time when he was a boy and women were kept at work all night; he remembers shops where they worked regularly all night after working all day, for two or three times a week.

F. a bookbinder, remembers women who worked all night frequently. They were very poor, very rough, and of very low moral standing. "Some of the women who worked could hardly be said to belong to their sex." Respectable girls would not come for such low wages, and also because they had to go home alone through the streets. After the Factory Acts the moral tone and respectability increased greatly; wages were no lower and there were fewer hours of work.[72]

[72] This is an interesting comment on the relation between low wages and long hours on the one hand and character on the other.

G. says, "We used to have to come in at 6 in the morning and work till 10 or 11 at night, and then be told to come back again at 6 next day. I often used to faint; it took all my strength away." She considers the Factory Act an unmixed blessing.

H., before the Factory Act, has worked from 9 to 7, 8, 9, or 10. Often as a learner she stayed till 11 or 12, and once till 12 several nights running. Once she remembers being turned out in a thunderstorm at midnight, and how frightened she was. Occasionally she worked all night; they used to be given coffee at 2 a.m. Once or twice she worked from 9 a.m. one[Pg 86] day to 2 p.m. next day; "Excitement keeps you up." They were allowed to sing at their work and be as merry as they could; "We didn't count it much of a hardship." Some women after leaving the factory would go and work all night in printing houses; one woman would leave at tea-time and go to spend the night at the "Athenæum" until 7 a.m. After the Factory Act no one might stay beyond 10 without special permission. Once she did work all night; they put out the lights in the front and worked at the back. The only result of the Factory Acts that she could see was that employers had to have larger premises and employ more hands, instead of working a small staff hard.

J. says "I entered the trade in 1863 when I was thirteen. Boys and porters came at 6 a.m.; journeymen at 8 a.m. (sixty hours a week); women at 8 or 9 a.m. All had to stay as long as they were wanted, i.e., till 10 or 11. Boys were frequently kept till 11 p.m. I was never kept all night. Conditions have improved for both sexes, men's owing to Trade Unionism, women's to factory laws."

The opinions of forewomen.

The testimony of the forewomen is to the same effect. A. a forewoman, used to work often till 10, 11, or 12 at night, sometimes all night. Sometimes she was obliged to keep her girls all night when there was work that had to be finished, but usually she gave them a rest the next day. She thinks it a very good thing that they should not be allowed to work all night; the work is piecework and long hours don't do any good, for they mean that you work less next day: if you work all night, then you are so tired that you have to take a day off; you have gained nothing. She used to find that so herself.

B. a forewoman, thought the Factory Acts a very good thing. Girls grumbled if they had to stop till 8, and she never heard of any of them wanting to stay longer. "If you work till 8 for many weeks you get used up; there is no change in your life, and as soon as you get home you have to go to bed, you are so tired."

C. is a forewoman. As a girl she used to work from 8.30 a.m. to 9 or 10 at night every day from September to Christmas. She had to stay till 2 a.m. one night and come again just the same next day; she had to work from 3 a.m. one Good Friday morning and sometimes had to come to work at 1 on Sunday[Pg 87] mornings. This nightwork was only occasional, but she thinks it a very good thing that it has been stopped; she never found it pay; the girls were so tired the next day.

Another forewoman gave it as her deliberate opinion that when overtime is worked the piece workers do not make more as a rule, for they get so tired that if they stay late one night, they work less the next day.

This is the unanimous view held by the forewomen, and it comes with considerable force from them, as it is they who have to arrange to get work done somehow within a certain time. They are the people who have to put on the pressure, and are in such a position as to see how any particular system of getting work done answers.


Among the younger women—the girls who have had no experience of conditions before 1867, the opinion about overtime is not so unanimous. Some few like what little overtime is allowed to them and say they would not mind more. One such worker was met, just arrived home from her factory late one Saturday afternoon. She had been working overtime as a consequence of the Queen's death—the envelope makers and black borderers were all working late just then. It was a bleak and wet afternoon, and she came in in high spirits, evidently regarding all life as a joke, and frankly confessing that factory life especially was a joke, particularly when they had overtime. "It is 'larks' working late, and the governor he up and spoke to us so nice. He says, 'Girls, you won't mind doing a bit of overtime for the sake of our dear Queen?' and we says 'No.' I shouldn't mind doing overtime every day of the week. I like the factory and should hate to be out of it." A few such girls there are who are in excellent health, like the work and don't find it monotonous, and, above all, enjoy the larger life that they meet in a factory just as girls in another social scale enjoy public school or college life. It is these who revel in their day's work and are not tired at the end of it, but how in actual fact they would like longer hours or systematic overtime it is impossible to say. It is probably the rarity of it, the stimulus and excitement of working against time for once in a way, the being put on their mettle by the "governor" himself, that make the enjoyment. We must also remember that the younger hands are those who take the most anti-social views of work and care least about[Pg 88] industrial conditions. But even by these few, when the idea of all night work is suggested, it is scouted with horror. On the whole, the view adopted is that when you have done your day's work, you have done enough. A worker in the stationers' trade assured us that overtime means a doctor's bill, so you don't really make anything by it. The experience of two women who had tried nightwork illegally was also instructive.

Overtime experience.

A. an apparently strong woman was once offered a night job when she was hard up, and thought that it would be a "lark" to take it. She went in about 8 a.m. on Friday and worked on with intervals for meals till 3 p.m. on Saturday, being paid piece rates for the day hours and 6s. for the work between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. She was utterly done up in consequence of this work and lost more money next week than she made by the whole job.

B. once worked all night in a City shop for 5s. and got no good out of it, for she was so done up that she could not work at all next day, and very little the day after.

Three girls working at the same factory, and speaking of conditions there, said that when they were busy after 9.30 p.m. men were put on to do the card mounting. These girls ridiculed the idea that they disliked this or wanted to stay. "You feel quite done for by 9 o'clock. Girls sometimes cry, they get so tired in the evening." None of the three had ever heard of any girls who objected to the Factory Acts. "The little ones do not mind overtime so much because they get 3d. an hour the same as the full hands, but the full hands do mind. Overtime, i.e., till 4 p.m., on Saturdays is not so bad because you ain't so worn out."

C. thinks it a very good thing that women may not work at night—"hours are quite long enough as it is—you feel quite done up after working from 8 a.m. to 9.30 p.m."

D. is very much opposed to the idea of women working at night; she hears that in some places they work till 9 p.m. and thinks that dreadful. She has never heard anyone grumble that they cannot work longer, and scoffed at the idea. She herself hates overtime.

E.'s views are that if you've had work from 9 to 7 that is quite as much as you can do properly. She never likes her daughters to work overtime, because it only tires them out. It is sometimes rather provoking when a job comes in late after[Pg 89] you've been sitting idle and you have to leave it, but thinks that it is better on the whole. Some women wouldn't mind working "all the hours that God gives," but it is very selfish of them. Most can't stand it. If she had to be at the factory by 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m., she never did any more work, because she was so tired.

So the instances could be multiplied. There is no mistaking the note of relief that runs through the experiences of the workers who have worked both before and after 1867. Forewomen, employers and factory inspectors, who are in the position of the "lookers-on at the game," from different standpoints are nearly unanimous in agreeing that protective legislation is beneficial.

The thirty-three firms, the authorities of which are returned as having stated that they give men at night work done by women during the day, consist for the most part of printing houses, and the work done by women was folding. The result produced by legislation is that men do the folding at night and on Saturday afternoons, when there is a press of business, but in one or two cases, a regular staff of night workers is employed. As the men are slower workers than the women, and charge a far higher price for their labour, it is to the employer's interest to reduce nightwork to a minimum. Prospectuses, however, and weekly newspapers have to be folded during the night, and this must fall to the men's lot. In two firms, men occasionally do relief stamping for Christmas cards when there is a great press of work, and in one firm they do card mounting. In none of the above firms is there any question of employing men instead of women in the daytime. In one of the remaining two—a printing house—the manager said that perhaps he might have more women for folding; and in another the employer distinctly said that he would employ women for feeding his printing machines were it not for the limitations on their hours, which renders it impossible to keep them when a press of work comes in. These few cases can scarcely claim to constitute a serious hindrance to women's employment; nor, in view of the chorus of gratitude for factory legislation, can they be regarded as a serious indictment against that legislation.

Has legislation affected wages?

On the question as to whether the restrictions of the Factory[Pg 90] Acts have affected wages, it is almost impossible to obtain any trustworthy information. In briefly touching on it, we must be careful to distinguish between the rate of wages and the sum total earned. There seems an entire lack of evidence that the rate of wages has been affected, although the sum total of women's earnings collectively and individually is obviously lowered, when some of their work is given to men. But even then the mere deprivation of the chance of working unlimited overtime is an altogether exaggerated measure of the loss in wages. A human being differs from a machine, for, even when the work done is mechanical, an interval of leisure and rest is essential, after a certain point, before the output can be continued. Experience has abundantly proved that for the regular worker overtime does not pay, and is also a wasteful expedient from the point of view of the employer.

The Factory Commission of 1866 published evidence that may be accepted as reliable regarding the wages paid in the trade before legislation intervened. Mention is made in the Report of one firm of printers who employed four girls for folding and stitching, three of whom, under thirteen years of age, earned from 2s. to 3s. 6d.; the fourth, a sort of overlooker, earned 12s. Another firm of printers paid the younger girls 4s. to 5s. a week; the older ones 8s. and 10s. The women employed by a third firm earned at least 14s. a week and 3d. an hour overtime. In a fourth a young girl earned 9s. 10½d. for fifty-three hours, another 12s. 10¾d. for forty-eight hours, another 13s. for fifty-seven hours, and the journeywoman 17s. 6d. for sixty hours.

In a firm where women made envelopes, one girl working from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day, and till 3 p.m. on Saturdays, said she could earn 10s. 6d., and a journeywoman earned from 10s. to 12s. Women making envelopes for another firm earned 9s. or 10s. a week.

Paper-box makers earned, on an average, 9s. or 10s., some made 15s. or more. In another firm they earned 7s. or 8s. up to 25s. on piecework. Timeworkers earned 12s. or 14s.; young girls earned 2s. 6d.

These wages are very much the same as those paid to-day, and the hours then were undoubtedly longer.[73] Nor must it be [Pg 91] assumed that wages would have risen more satisfactorily had there been no Factory Acts. Had there been any tendency for wages to rise which the Factory Law was retarding, that tendency would have shown itself in a marked way during the intervals between each Act, but no such thing is observable, as Mr. Wood's figures in the footnote indicate. Moreover, taken all together, the evidence gathered by this investigation proves that neither the demand for improvement nor the organisation to make that demand effective exists in the case of the woman worker. On the other hand, there is no evidence to show that legislation has improved wages, except in so far as it has reduced hours without apparently having lowered rates.

[73] Cf. "The Course of Women's Wages during the Nineteenth Century," by Mr. G. H. Wood, printed as an Appendix to "A History of Factory Legislation," by B. L. Hutchins and A. Harrison, where the following figures are given as the estimated average weekly earnings of women and girls in the printing trade: 1840, 6s. 3d.; 1850, 6s. 6d.; 1860, 7s. 5d.; 1866,7s. 10d.; 1870, 8s. 6d.; 1883, 8s. 9d.; 1886, 8s. 9d.; 1891, 9s. 10d.; 1895, 9s. 10d.; 1900, 10s. 1d.

On the whole there seems to be no ground for considering that special legislation for women in this trade has materially injured the value of their labour. There is nothing to show that their wages have decreased, that legislation has acted as a drag upon their income, or that they have lost employment to any appreciable extent.

Want of elasticity in the law.

A lack of elasticity in the law seems to be the greatest complaint of the employers. On the face of it, it looks like a piece of senseless red-tape that, because it is usually preferable to an employer to open his factory between the hours of 8 to 8, he may not when it is more convenient to him, open it between 6 and 6 or 7.30 and 7.30. It seems absurd that it was an illegal act of an employer to allow two young women to begin work at 6 a.m. and work till 8 p.m., whereas it would have been quite legal if they had begun work at 8 a.m. and worked till 10 p.m., due notice having been given to the Home Office.[74]

[74] Stationery Trades' Journal, 1898.

Mr. Henderson, as above quoted, gives it as his opinion that "a wide limit of law is necessary for printing offices where women may not work after 8 p.m. or before 6 a.m. Hours for adult women other than at present should be allowed by the Secretary of State, as for instance the folders of weeklies."

[Pg 92]

Again, it is felt that a greater freedom is needed with regard to overtime. Mr. Vaughan, the Factory Inspector for North London, in the Factories and Workshops Report for 1899 says: "I find in some trades, e.g., Christmas cards, great dissatisfaction at the curtailment of overtime from five to three nights a week, when the busy season lasts only for a month or so; the allowance of thirty nights a year is not required, but an allowance of more nights during these few weeks would be an enormous assistance. The temptation in such cases to work more nights a week than are allowed is universally great."

It appears to be a great hardship that women who have not been working by day may not upon occasions work by night, and both employers and employées are unanimous in demanding that the law should recognise this distinction. There is a great difference between retaining an ordinary worker through the night, or for more than a certain number of hours per week, and drafting in a fresh set of workers to do work by night at stated periods in the month or at times of emergency.

Whether or not the law can be made sufficiently elastic to allow of greater freedom with regard to period of employment, overtime, and nightwork, raises difficult questions. No doubt it would be an advantage both to employées and employers, if the law could be made so elastic, but the difficulty of effective inspection would be so great as to outweigh any possible advantage. The early history of factory legislation and its working shows clearly that the intention of the Act was defeated because employers could so easily evade its clauses. At present it is known to a factory inspector that a factory that opens at 6 always opens at 6 and closes at 6, unless notice has been given that overtime is being worked; if, however, an employer were free to open his factory at 6 or 7 or 8, as occasion demanded, and close accordingly, the difficulty of administration would obviously be greatly increased.

The same point arises with regard to nightworkers. It is quite impossible to know among a staff of nightworkers, who has been working all day and who are bonâ fide job hands. Such cases as the following, which was the cause of a prosecution, would occur far more frequently.

"Twenty-four girls who were employed at a neighbouring printing and bookbinding firm, worked for twelve hours at that firm on Friday, November 20th. They then went straight to[Pg 93] the Carlyle Press, and worked all night, going back to their regular work at the other firm at 8 the next morning. The forewoman employed by the latter firm said that she did not know these girls had been working all day, or she would not have admitted them."[75]

[75] Printers' Register, January 12th, 1892.

It must be remembered that so far as the class of job hands is concerned, they owe their present position in a large measure to factory legislation. By utilising them, the employer has been able to meet a sudden press of work, and yet to comply with the provisions of the law, so that, without the legislation of which they now complain, many of them would not have found employment. Moreover, job hands are not numerous when compared with regular workers, and the provisions in the Factory Acts which seem to bear hardly on casual labour have rightly been passed in the interest of the permanent staff. To accede to the demand for greater elasticity is to suppose a higher code of morals on the part both of employers and of employed than experience justifies, and it would also render necessary a far more elaborate and irritating system of inspection than at present exists. The efficiency of modern factory industry depends very greatly upon automatic working—upon its standardisation of conditions, and the existing factory law with its inelastic provisions is, in reality, a great aid in maintaining those conditions of efficiency. Now and again an employer complains of some hard experience, and forgets that a departure from rigid rule would destroy the certainty which he feels that the law is treating him exactly as it is his competitors. Such a feeling of security is essential to business enterprise.

[Pg 94]


There is a general opinion amongst the women workers themselves that the introduction of machinery has ruined these trades for them. But we have found that certain opinions prevail, not because they have stood the test of investigation, but because they are passed round, and have never been subjected to enquiry. We have already referred to the question in a general way.[76]

[76] P. 48.

Effect of machinery.

The impression of workers that machinery is displacing them, must be received with a great deal of reserve as they rarely take long or broad views.

Mechanical aid is very imperfect in most of these trades, and in book folding, envelope making, black bordering, etc., its use has hitherto been greatly restricted owing to the nature of the work.

The census figures, moreover, seem to be pretty conclusive that, taking the trade as a whole, machinery cannot have had such a very destructive influence upon women's employment.[77]

[77] An old-established publisher commits himself to the statement that machinery has increased women's work by 20 per cent. The manager of a leading Scottish paper and stationery firm stated, with reference to envelope making: "The use of machinery is always extending; but only in the direction of increasing the output; there has been no displacing of workers; the result has been rather to increase their employment."

The following statement by a Trade Union official is at once the most emphatic and most detailed of a considerable mass of information on this subject:—

"Folding and stitching machines have largely superseded female labour and men's labour too. E.g., A. (a certain weekly paper), if folded, etc., by hand, would employ thirty hands—now it is all done by machinery. B. (another similar paper) by hand would employ 100 girls and, say, twenty or thirty men—now no girl touches it except just to insert 'things,' e.g., advertisements, and men merely pack it; machinery does the rest. Even wrapping is done by machinery—one machine with one[Pg 95] man does the work of eight men. At X. (a well-known London firm) ten folding machines do the work of 100 girls."

As a matter of fact the papers referred to have been created by the cheap work of machines, and no labour has been displaced by their employment. They have rather increased the demand for labour. But the statement shows the efficiency of machinery worked under the best conditions.

Another statement by a woman worker, typical of many others, is as follows:—"Machinery is ruining the trade, and workers are being turned off; thirty were turned off a few months ago, and twenty more will have to go soon."

This applies to a certain well-known London firm of bookbinders, and it is curiously corroborated by other investigators who found in other firms traces of the women discharged from this one. The firm's own statement, however, was that they had to turn away "ten hands (young ones), the other day, because of the introduction of folding machines"; but this information was received five months before the woman employed quoted above was seen.[78]

[78] An Edinburgh firm states that one folding machine can be managed by two girls and it does the work of eight women hand-folders. The firm does not state if it turned away hands, but it considered that there is too great a strain placed upon girls in watching this machine constantly, so their work is varied.


That there is some displacement, either directly or by the substitution of younger workpeople, cannot be gainsaid with reference to particular processes.

The class most affected is the sewers. The evidence in support of their displacement places it beyond dispute, and though the increased facility for sewing has created an extra demand for folding, and some sewers have turned to folding in consequence, this class as a whole has suffered by machinery. Folders have been less affected.

The way in which the displacement is brought about is of some interest. We have, to begin with, the general apparent inability of women to manage machines, and we find that the folding machine has tended to reintroduce men to aid in work which for many years has been exclusively women's.[79] Here we[Pg 96] have a case of men and machinery doing women's work. On the other hand, the sewing machine does not appear to have had that tendency, the only explanation apparently being that convention determines that in these trades sewing machines and women go together. Sewing machines are domestic implements in men's eyes. It is very curious that it should be so, but we are driven to that as the only possible explanation of well-observed facts. In this instance machines alone displace women.

[79] The manager of a firm with an extensive business in popular periodical literature says: "Folding, which was all hand work and women's work, is now largely done by machines managed by men. Wrapping, of which the same was true, is also largely done by machines which are managed by men.... If the machine is large and complicated, men will replace women, if it is small and simple, women will replace men."

No process—excepting the few rare instances in the typographical trade—seems to have been opened up to women in consequence of the introduction of machinery; and, on the other hand, the instances where young persons, either boys or girls, have been put to women's work owing to the introduction of machinery are very rare. So all that has happened has been that machines have somewhat changed the character of women's work, and their chief effect, beyond the displacement of sewers, has been to prevent the taking on of some learners who otherwise might have been employed in certain branches of these trades.

Conclusions can be arrived at with more accuracy in respect of the paper-colouring and enamelling processes.

Paper colouring and enamelling hardly exists as a separate trade now. Paper is coloured or enamelled, as a rule, in the mill where it is made, and the processes are carried out by machinery.

This trade, then, affords a definite instance of the replacement of women's work by machinery, handwork being now a rare survival. In one firm where forty-five women were formerly employed twelve now work. The process of colouring by hand is very simple. The sheet of paper to be coloured is placed in front of the woman who wets it over with the required colour by means of a long thin brush like a whitewash brush, which she dips into a bowl. She then takes another round brush, about 10 ins. in diameter, and brushes over the whole surface, so that the colour shall lie quite evenly. The process is now complete, and the sheet of paper is taken up and hung on a line to dry. Enamelling is done in precisely the same way, enamel, instead of colour, being applied.

[Pg 97]

These hand processes apparently survive in the case of small quantities of paper which it is not worth while to colour or enamel by machine. Those who have seen the process cannot regret the abolition of hand labour. The work is rough and dirty; the workers and the walls are all splashed over with the colour, the result being picturesque, but not healthy. When dry powder or dust is used in the process, meals may not be taken on the premises. The work does not attract a high grade of workers; they are of the job-hand type, friendly, rough and ready, and by no means tidy or "genteel."

Paper colouring and enamelling was once a man's trade but women replaced men for the same reason that machinery has now replaced women, i.e., cheapness.

Machine ruling has also been slightly affected. One of the investigators reports of an Edinburgh factory: "In this factory I was shown a ruling machine which was provided with an automatic feeder, in the form of two indiarubber wheels, which drew each sheet of paper into the machine with great exactness. The machine, after ruling one side, turned the paper and ruled the other without any adjustment by hand being necessary. After being set, this machine required only the occasional supervision of one man operative. It was estimated that its output equalled that of twelve persons on the old machines, whilst on some work of a simple kind which was merely to be run through, it might replace the work of thirty."

Cheap labour and mechanical appliances.

In these circumstances it is hardly to be expected that much evidence could have been collected leading to very definite conclusions regarding how far the cheapness of women's labour retarded the introduction of machinery, and the efficient organisation of these industries.

With the large up-to-date employers, the fact that women's labour is cheap counts for little in face of the fact that machinery is rapid, and enables them on a small area and with a productive capital charge, to turn out large volumes of produce. "When we see a good machine," said one of these employers, "we try it, and we do not think of the cheapness or dearness of the labour it may displace." But with small employers, and with those producing for a lower class or special market, considerations of wages do enter greatly into calculations of the utility of a new machine, and to some slight[Pg 98] extent the cheapness of women's labour has retarded the application of machinery in these trades. One investigator states of a large West End stationer:—"Undoubtedly he would put up steam folding and stamping machines if women's labour were not so cheap." A printer who prints some of the best-known weekly papers and reviews is reported to have said:—"Taking it broadly, the cheapness of men's or women's work undoubtedly tends to retard the introduction of machinery."

But the most striking proof of the connection between cheap labour and handwork is given by one investigator who, whilst being taken over certain large printing works was shown women folding one of the illustrated weekly papers. Folding machines were standing idle in the department, and she was told that these were used by the men when folding had to be done at times when the Factory Law prohibited women's labour.[80] Another employer stated that he had introduced folding machines as a consequence of the legal restrictions placed upon women's labour, whilst another well-known bookbinder said:—"If women would take a fair price for work done it would not be necessary to employ machinery."

[80] Cf. pp 80, 81, etc.

A large printer of magazines reports: "The saving in cost, and therefore the inducement to put in machinery, is much less if higher wages are paid for men doing the work." The scarcity of women's labour, we are told, induced a Manchester printing firm to adopt folding machines; whilst, on the other hand, the cheapness of women's labour has kept linotypes out of Warrington composing rooms.

[Pg 99]


Census figures.

The table of occupations compiled from the census of 1901 for the first time indicates the number of home workers. For these trades the figures for women are as follows:


Unmarried. Married or
Total. Total for
Paper manufacture910190
Paper stainers1121
Stationery manufacture3725620
Envelope makers2742694
Paper box and paper bag makers5241,1531,67736
Other workers in paper, etc.54521062
Printers [? folders]73461192
Lithographers, copper and
steel plate printers

[81] Paper box making was not investigated.

It is always difficult to trace out the home worker, and the information we obtained was collected through communication with School Board officers, Charity Organisation Society secretaries, district nurses, sanitary inspectors, and workpeople. The groups of trades investigated are mainly factory and workshop trades, and are becoming more so. Home work is not so prevalent in them as it used to be, and it is now somewhat difficult to trace its effects in its present decayed importance.

Home work drawbacks.

There used to be a good deal of home work in these trades, but the growth of large firms and the introduction of machinery[82] have discouraged it.[83] The material is very heavy and sometimes costly, and has to be carefully[Pg 100] handled. It is therefore difficult to move from workshop to dwelling-place; and when handled in kitchens or other living rooms it runs a great risk of being stained and spoiled. The home workers find some of their own material, e.g., paste and brushes for bag making, and they save light and rent for employers; but, on the other hand, they are apt "to send back their work with the mark of teacups upon it," or spoiled in some other way, and it is difficult to get them to return it punctually. So in these trades, home work really does not pay.

[82] This seems to be specially the case in the provinces.

[83] One of the home workers (also workshop worker) visited said, "Home work is given less and less and is difficult to get now. Only three work at it—old hands—and they are going to stop it altogether, perhaps." Another investigator reports of machine-ruling in Scotland: "Two elderly women who worked a paper-ruling machine in their kitchen. They had been at the work for thirty years, having been taught by their father, and have carried on the business since his death. The father had a good business, and they can make their living by it, but say the work has sadly fallen off. They get enough orders to keep them going, and when very busy employ a girl occasionally to help them. 'It is useless to try to compete with the new machines they have nowadays. What used to be given to us at 2s. 6d., can now be turned out by the machines for 1s. 6d. We couldn't afford to do it at those rates.'" Cf. Appendix V.

The Trade Unions prohibit home work when they are able to detect it. There is, generally, a healthy feeling opposed to this method of employment, and firms deny practising it.

Home work processes.

Home work is now mainly confined to book and paper folding, sewing printed matter, black bordering and folding envelopes, making paper bags, and designing and painting Christmas cards which is done at home not so much because employers encourage it, but because it is undertaken by a class of women indisposed to enter a workshop. The folding is mostly of cheap printed matter like popular almanacs and other street literature. Also, a good deal of folding thin paper Bibles and prayer books is done at home.

Some paper staining is also done in living rooms by workpeople, but the practice is less common than it was. "One paper colourer, a married woman, whom we saw, told us that her mother worked at the trade before her at home, and when she herself was a baby her cradle was rocked on the colouring board. 'Many was the night' that she sat up as a child helping her mother to do the work. She certainly throve on it and seemed immensely proud of her industrial career."

[Pg 101]

The home worker.

What home work is still done is given mainly to women employed in the workshop during the day, and is therefore illegal.[84] In addition, women who have married whilst working in certain firms, or widows of men who have been workmen in these trades, keep up old connections by occasional—if not systematic—home work. But as it hardly pays the employer to avail himself regularly of domestic workers, the work now done at home is chiefly given out to meet a temporary pressure of demand, and would practically disappear if these exceptional pressures did not take place.

[84] The wording of the section (31 (2)) of the Act, however, makes it difficult to enforce.

Paper-bag making.

The making of paper bags is, of this group of trades, most extensively and systematically practised as a home industry. This is particularly the case in the neighbourhood of busy street markets, such as are found in South London. The work is mostly done by married women of a rough class, as a supplement to their husbands' wages.[85] Reporting upon one such worker an investigator says: "Mrs. —— is one of nine daughters, and seven are paper-bag makers. All her cousins, aunts and relations-in-law have taken it up.... A niece of hers was consumptive and could not earn her living, but she was fond of dress. Mrs. —— taught her paper-bag making and she soon earned 8s. or 9s. a week." The profit which yielded this income is stated to be 6d. or 7d. per thousand bags. Many women who occasionally work at paper-bag making only do so to earn a particular sum of money of which they are in need—say 10s. When that is earned they cease work. Such is the casual nature of the employment and the disorganised state of the labour employed in it.

[85] "In nearly all the cases that Mrs. —— (an employing bag maker in the Borough) knows there are bad husbands. Mrs. —— is in the trade herself to supplement her husband's earnings because she has nine children and he cannot earn enough to keep them in comfort."

The homes.

The practically unanimous report of the investigators is that these home workers' home conditions are of the very worst. "A very squalid and evil-smelling slum," "Very poor and miserable house shared by others," are typical descriptions of the dwellings to which the home work investigations led us.

[Pg 102]


The investigators tried to obtain information bearing upon the interesting and important question of the influence of the married and the unmarried woman worker on industry, on the home, and on the family income. But the difficulty of following up statements and testing their accuracy has been so great and some of the factors in the problem so elusive under the conditions of the trades investigated, that conclusions are stated with considerable reserve.

The custom in the trades under review undoubtedly is that married women should not work in them; and, as a rule, only widowhood, or a bad or sickly husband, or a slack time, brings a woman back to them after marriage.[86] Sometimes, however, she comes back, because it is too dull at home.[87] This is more generally the case in the provinces than in London, where certain job departments, especially certain kinds of folding, are filled by rather a rough class of women, amongst whom the proportion of married is exceptionally high. Throughout the reports sent in, it is most interesting to note how strongly the sense of feminine respectability opposes their fellow workwomen working after marriage, "unless they have been unfortunate in their husbands."[88]

[86] For statistics see Appendix VII.

[87] A woman worker says, "They come back after they have married, because a girl who has been accustomed to make 18s. for herself is not comfortable when she marries a man on £2 a week who is accustomed to have that for himself, so she comes back to make extra money."

[88] So also it is interesting to note the lingering shadow of chivalry in this connection. "Mr. ——," said one of the girls, "never will take married women, but then he is always such a gentleman."

The average age of the women regularly employed is low,[89] because as a rule girls leave at marriage. The investigators generally report that the age in workrooms appears to be [Pg 103] mainly between eighteen and twenty-three. The report that "Four girls here out of thirty or forty are over eighteen" (Leeds bookbinder's), is typical of many others. This fact alone has an enormous influence on women's wages and makes it necessary to be very careful in drawing conclusions under the headings dealt with in this chapter.

[89] A manager of a provincial printing establishment estimated that twelve years was the maximum workshop life of average girls.

Wages and expenditure.

An attempt has been made to discover how far the earnings of women workers in these trades are only supplementary to family income, and how far the family worker is entirely dependent upon them for her livelihood. On the whole (but with important exceptions) they appear to be supplementary. In cases, certain fixed weekly payments are made for board and lodging to the relatives who are heads of the households, but these payments are not enforced in times of unemployment and are reduced when work is slack. Even when being made in full they do not always represent the actual cost of accommodation and living. It is becoming less and less common, it seems, for the wives of idle and improvident husbands to eke out their household income by casual or seasonal work, but the practice is still followed and in London prevails to a relatively considerable extent. In such cases the women do not work for mere pocket-money, nor again, do their wages cover the full cost of their living.

"Miss —— lives at home and her parents are evidently in comfortable circumstances," runs one report of a book-folder. "I went into the best parlour, where there was a piano—also a high hat in the corner!"

The following gives a somewhat fuller picture of these workers:—"Mrs. —— is a widow and has no children. She looks about sixty and is probably about fifty. She lives on the top floor in model dwellings (three rooms, for which she pays 5s. 9d.) Her husband died in 1891 of consumption, and she does not know what she would have done had she not been made forewoman (in a book-folding room). She does not see how a pieceworker can support herself. She must live at home. Most of the girls working under her live at home and give their mothers 7s. a week, keeping the rest for themselves. She was doing some washing and mangling when I called. A little girl comes to help clean, but otherwise she does everything for herself."

A fairly large employer in London stated that his "girls are living with their parents and work for pocket-money." Another[Pg 104] "would think that about half lived at home." One woman stated, "A bit of extra money comes in handy. It is nice for a woman to put a little by—you cannot expect her to save out of her husband's money"; another said: "A woman ought never to let her husband know what she earns—if she is foolish enough to do that, he at once becomes lazy and extravagant. A woman should only work after marriage either to save a little money, or to help a sick or delicate husband." A well-known London general stationery dealer reports: "Some of the women employed are the wives of the porters and packers, but in the majority of cases the husbands are worthless, and the earnings of the women are the chief support of the household." In one case reported upon, a girl, working in a Bible and prayer-book house, having to support herself, could not do it, and began pilfering prayer-books to make both ends meet. She was turned away as a thief.

For the purpose of throwing light upon the problems with which this chapter deals, particulars have been obtained from one firm in London where eighty-six women are employed. The married women are described as follows:—

1. A widow.

2. Has a husband, a bookbinder in good work, but they are extravagant.

3. Has a husband in work.

4. A widow.

5. A widow with a daughter to support.

6. A widow.

7. Has a husband in work. Has been summoned for boys not attending school.

8. Has a husband who drinks. Looks after her children and goes home at dinner time.

9. A widow with recalcitrant boy.

10. Has a husband in work.

11. Has a husband irregularly employed. Very poor and slatternly.

12. Has a husband who drinks.

Of the unmarried workers, one learned the trade when on in years because, owing to a misfortune, she had to bring up her brothers and sisters. She was very slow and her earnings only averaged about 7s. per week. Two support themselves. The others live at home and pay 6s. or 7s. per week, or hand over[Pg 105] everything they make, and receive back small sums for pocketmoney.

A report from another well-known firm of bookbinders in London states that in a room of ten women, five support themselves. In some instances it is noted that married women have to receive charitable aid in looking after their children when they themselves go to work. Of a large printing firm it is said, "Most of the girls at ... don't seem to mind if they make money or not. They couldn't possibly keep themselves on what they earned." This was the statement of a girl working with the firm and erred in being too absolute; but an examination of the wage returns showed that, somewhat modified and limited, it was true. A manager of a co-operative bookbinding establishment estimated that, from his experience, not more than 25 per cent. of the girls working in that trade, regarded their wages as the only means by which they supported themselves. The forewoman of a large stationery department stated that only three out of twenty girls under her had to depend on their own wages. The conclusion of a report submitted by an official of the Typographical Association in Coventry may be taken as being true of the provinces generally. "The females for the most part are young girls, with a sprinkling of experienced and older hands who leave when about entering married life."

Evidently it is a very common thing for such workers to pay so much into a common purse from which general family expenses are drawn, and into which the individual contributions vary with the state of trade.

The industrial effect of these conditions is obvious. The women keep no vigilant eye upon wages which are fixed rather by use and wont than by competitive pressure. Employers have rarely[90] to offer high pay as an inducement to women to enter these trades, and, consequently, there is always a downward drag upon wages, and although the women spasmodically interest themselves in their conditions, they feel so little dependence on wages that they can never be taught to make that steady upward pressure which would improve the organisation of these trades and yield more return for labour. Hence, [Pg 106] the low rate of wages obtainable by those who have to maintain themselves is kept down almost solely by the circumstance that such a large proportion of the women employed remain part of families and share in general family income. It should be noted that it is often the policy of employers to be "careful only to take respectable young girls who live with their parents." The economic influence of this "respectable" standard is obvious.

[90] The establishment of a laundry in the vicinity of a well-known provincial firm of printers resulted in an increase of wages in the shape of a guarantee that no wages should be paid under 6s. per week.

Influence on family income.

On the question whether an extensive prevalence of "supplementary earnings" tends to reduce the wages paid to other members of the family, our investigations in these trades threw no light. Only in one case, where a husband and wife were questioned, was the opinion stated that, "Now that women go into trades so much, a man and a woman together only make as much as a man used to." The question is one which can be answered only by investigation in other trades, the circumstances of which are more favourable for its elucidation.

Wages rates and married women.

What little influence the married woman has upon wages seems to be to raise and not to lower them. That is the unanimous opinion of the forewomen in London, and they know best.[91]

[91] The following are extracts from the opinions of forewomen on this point:——"They don't lower rates; they want more."—"They don't lower rates of pay; it is rather the reverse, for they are most troublesome about the price; e.g., the other day a married woman, a new hand, made four or five girls refuse to do some sewing at the price quoted, so they and she sat idle and wasted their time till the forewoman saw what she could do for them. She (the forewoman) pointed out to the girls how foolish it was to waste their time like that, and they said that they wouldn't have done it by themselves."—"So far from working for less if they don't get enough, they say—'Thank you' and walk off."—"They are the first to grumble; they don't think it worth coming unless they can make something good."—"Married women are more trouble than the unmarried; they are at the bottom of any agitation, and won't come if you are slack, for they wouldn't get enough to pay for washing."—"They are more independent than single workers, and teach the others to stand out."—"They think it a favour to do your work."—"They won't work for less, for they generally have more than themselves to keep."—A forewoman of a book-folding department in a large firm said that though not employing married women on her regular staff, she had had some experience of them as job hands, and found that they would not do ordinary work at ordinary rates, it not being worth their while. "They have not got to earn money, as they have husbands to fall back upon."—To this should be added the testimony of one thoughtful observer, who has considered the question during a long experience in the trade. He has never come across a case where married women have lowered the rate of pay; on the other hand, the elder women often complain that the young girls who are living at home don't mind having 1/4d. or 1/2d. cut off.—See also the Report on Home Work, published by the Women's Industrial Council, 19, Buckingham Street, Strand, 6d., for further details confirming this view.

[Pg 107]

In a good many instances, the married women complained that the unmarried ones accepted reductions, and at a Conference held at Manchester in connection with this investigation, the opinion was unanimously expressed that married women do not lower wages, but, "on the contrary, the casuals grumble most and get most."[92] "I know of a case," writes a Plymouth correspondent, "where a married woman would not work for less than 15s., which she obtained and retained for a year or two." Out of a batch of ninety employers who had definite opinions upon the influence of married women upon the standard of wages, seventy-seven said they did not lower it, and thirteen that they did. The married woman is more able than the unmarried girl to appreciate the relation between wages and living expenses, and when she returns to the workshop, it is as a worker who accepts the life of the wage earner as a final fact and not as a mere interval between school and marriage.

[92] The casually employed sometimes give trouble owing to unpunctuality, and several employers have complained against married women on this ground. But the investigation as a whole does not show the complaint to be at all general.

The married woman is more independent and disinclined to accept low rates when offered, and she is generally chosen to go on deputations making complaints to employers. A Trade Union official said that theoretically the married woman ought to reduce wages, but that he was bound to say that his experience in the trade taught him that she did not. She has acquired the right to grumble, and she is put down in a considerable proportion of the reports as the centre from which general discontent in the workrooms emanates. Many employers object to her in consequence.

[Pg 108]

She seems to regard herself as a permanent worker when she is a widow, and generally remains for a considerable time—twenty or thirty years—with her employers without thinking of changing. She is not so "particular" as her unmarried co-worker, and does not give herself so many "airs." She cleans litho-rollers without "turning up her nose." She is, in short, part and parcel of the fellowship of wage earners; her unmarried sister is not.

She is more rarely found in the provinces than in London in these trades. Leeds and Bradford, and Bristol and the surrounding district may be taken as typical, and the reports of the investigators who visited these towns are quoted in full below on this point.

The employment of married women. (a) London.

In London, several firms refuse to employ married women as regular hands. In some cases this is a policy of the forewoman only, and not a rule of the firm. In others the head of the firm is responsible for the order. The motives vary. Some refuse on principle, holding that husbands should support their wives; e.g., "She won't countenance husbands living on their wives' earnings and idling themselves"; or, again, that it is "hard on single girls," or undesirable to have married women working amongst unmarried girls, because, "They spoil a shop by talking about all sorts of things." Other employers refuse to have them because they are too irregular—"You can't get them in in time"; others because "one has no hold over them," or because "they are tiresome, being so cocky." "Out of seventy-five girls," runs one of our reports, "he had none married till recently, when he failed to get enough unmarried. Dislikes having them because influence bad."[93]

[93] Reasons given for not employing married women, taken from a batch of London reports:—(1) Irregular. (2) Principle. (3) Principle. (4) Principle. (5) No hold. (6) Chance. (7) Principle. (8) Chance. (9) Irregular. (10) Irregular. (11) Principle. (12) Moral principle. (13) Moral principle. (14) Principle (?). (15) Principle (?). (16) Expediency. (17) Principle. (18) Principle. (19) Principle. (20) Principle. (21) Principle. (22) Rule. (23) Rule. (24) Rule. (25) Expediency. (26) Principle. (27) Principle. (28) Principle. (29) Principle. (30) Principle. (31) Irregular.

As a rule, however, there is a certain number of married women on the staff, and all houses who have recourse to job [Pg 109] hands in busy seasons must, on occasions, have married women on their premises, though they may object to employ them as regular workers.

The exact proportion of married to unmarried women in these trades is impossible to judge. Accuracy could only be obtained by taking a census of each shop. Estimates vary. A forewoman of experience calculated that more than half were married. A Trade Union secretary and an experienced worker estimated that about half were married, whilst of the job hands taken separately, more than three-fourths were married women. Another Union official, however, reckoned that, taking the trades as a whole, there were four unmarried to one married; taking job hands separately, two were married to one unmarried. Most of those conversant with the trade are careful to give no figures, "a large proportion" are married, or a "good few," and so on, are the common expressions. All, however, agree that the largest proportion of married to unmarried is found amongst the job hands; that, in fact, the majority of that class of workers have husbands. A few instances of the proportion amongst the regular staff in houses taken at random are given below. In most cases, it was impossible to obtain any figures, but the following may be taken to be types:—

A. Printing.—12 married out of 86.

B. Printing and Magazine Binding.—Half the staff.

C. Printing.—2 regular hands unmarried, 1 married taken on when busy.

D. Envelopes, etc.—5 girls, 2 married.

E. Binding.—3 married out of 20.

F. Card Mounting, etc.—2 married out of 30.

G. Binding.—3 married in machine room out of 60; 1 in perforating department.

H. Stationery.—9 married out of 20.

J. Printing.—1 married out of 10.

K. Binding.—2 married out of 30.

L. Printing and Magazine Work.—5 married out of 100.

M. Printing.—1 or 2 out of 56.

N. Printing.—2 out of 128. (In most departments won't take them.)

These houses show a much lower percentage of married workers than anyone hazarded at a guess.

[Pg 110]

(b) Bristol and district.

"Seventeen houses in Bristol, employing about 1,170 women, have no married hands. In three of these, it is the rule that girls must leave on marriage, because the employer or the forewoman dislikes having married women, either 'because they are not such good workers after they have got the breakfast for their husbands and children, and seen to the house, and are not then much good for work in a factory,' or else because of a feeling that it is wrong to take married women from home duties.

"In eight houses, employing about 1,200 women, there is no rule against employing married women, and a few are employed. The exact proportions were impossible to ascertain, but mostly box-makers.

Employed Married.
A. 100 Most leave when married, but a few good workers kept on.
B. 6 Two.
C. 5 One or two.
D. 30 A very few kept on.
E. 2 Both married.
F. 18 One married.
G. 40 Generally leave; a few kept on.
H. 1,000 A good many married.

"So few married women are employed in these trades in Bristol that it is impossible to find any evidence of their influence on rates of pay, and the generalisations as to the quality of married women's work are made on very little information. One employer (B.) declared that married women are better workers because they do not go out unless they have good-for-nothing husbands and have to be the breadwinners, a remark corroborated by G., who assigned the same reason for their superiority, adding that married women make 2s. or 3s. a week more at piecework than the unmarried, and seem more anxious to get on. C. regards them as steadier than girls: "They take life more seriously."

"In two houses in Gloucester with twenty-two and fifty-five girls, there are no married women. 'They don't want to stay.'

"In Frome, a leading printing establishment employs 130 girls, but none are married. There is a rule against employing married women. It is regarded as immoral to do so—'It means that the husband spends the extra money in beer.'

[Pg 111]

"In Stroud, amongst thirty girls, none were married.

"In Bath, in a firm employing forty girls, a few were married, but none whose husbands were in work. 'That would be considered infra dig.'

(c) Leeds and Bradford.

"Married women are rarely employed in these trades in Leeds. Out of seventeen houses visited, only three had married women as regular workers. One of these is an accountbook maker's, where a few out of the thirty hands are married; another is a wallpaper manufacturer's, where no difference is made when girls marry, and the third is a paperbag house, where a few out of the thirty women employed are married. In the remaining fourteen houses, comprising about 930 girls, no married women work. It is a custom recognised by masters and workers alike that women leave on marriage, so that the industrial career of these workers stops usually at twenty-two or twenty-three. In two houses old hands who have married are taken on for occasional rushes of work.

"This dearth of married women in these trades seems strange in a town where married women's work is such a common feature in the mills, but is accounted for by the fact that the girls employed in the printing trades belong to a comparatively comfortable class, marry in their own class, and are not expected to be breadwinners. One employer suggests that the work requires more regularity than can be expected from a married woman, but this does not seem to be a serious difficulty in London.

"Bradford conditions are practically the same. Seven firms have no married women, one has one married out of 100 workers, and this is an exception, married women not being employed as a rule. As in Leeds, the hands who have married come in to help when there is a rush of work. One manager remarked that, if the girls think they are not going to marry they leave for the mills, where pay is higher."

The moral influence of the married worker.

There seems to be a pretty widespread objection to the moral influence of married women in the workshop. "Mr. —— objects to the employment of married women. He dislikes the way they talk to the unmarried girls.... Lately he has been obliged to employ them as he could not get enough unmarried women."

[Pg 112]

Family health.

As regards the effect of work in these trades on family life, again the evidence is sparse, but so far as it is clear it tends to show that the employment of women makes little difference to the ordinary state of things. The work is not unhealthy, and the woman worker does not do much of the heavy tasks, such as lifting formes, using presses, and so on. The instances where she does this are rare, and the men have always, in this respect, turned their chivalrous instincts to industrial purpose and to protect their own interests. One investigator reports that a girl suffers from weak knees on account of long spells of standing at a machine for making envelopes, and that a vellum-folder complains of having to lift heavy weights. Another reports against "powdering" in bookbinding; and employment in typefoundries, where girls handle type, is dangerous, since it may lead to lead-poisoning. Another says that bronzing, even when the bronzing machine is used and the precautions specified by the Factory Act are taken, is unhealthy. A case is given of a woman permanently injured by the excessive strain of working a guillotine cutting machine.

The bookbinders have always been ready to point out that certain parts of their work are too heavy for women, and the compositors have done the same. The latter also show that consumption is a trade disease amongst them, and recently have defended their attempts to exclude women from working the linotype on the ground that the fumes and gases which are generated by its typefounding arrangement are injurious to health. They also maintain that standing for long periods at a stretch is injurious to women, but in at least one large printing firm in the provinces women were seen by our investigators setting type whilst sitting on stools in front of the case. The conditions of some wallpaper factories seem to be unhealthy, partly owing to the hot air, the smell, and some of the material used, especially the arsenic. Some reports state that the constant "standing about" necessary in these trades gives headaches and produces anæmia. What valid objection there is against married women leaving their homes and children for long periods at a time during the day, must of course be added to this, in common with all other kinds of continuous work in which married women engage, but there is no special danger to life or health in these industries from which the coming generation may suffer.

[Pg 113]


We have succeeded in getting the authentic records of wages from about eighteen firms in London, representing every branch of work in connection with printing, binding, and despatch, and employing together 1,000 hands—more in busy, less in slack weeks. We have also less detailed information about some half-dozen other firms.

These studied together and apart will no doubt give a correct general impression of the amount and variability of wages paid, but circumstances have made it very difficult to group them so as to give a simple bird's-eye view of the whole.

These circumstances are partly due to the very great differences between the class of work done by the various firms, and the difficulty of tabulating the workers under a few definite heads; partly to the difficulty of collecting records. Our investigators were recommended:—

i. To get complete wage sheets for as many weeks as their time and the courtesy of the manager allowed, making the record as complete as possible for 1899, and extending their researches back as far as the books existed, choosing the wage sheets of one week in every month.

ii. To trace individual workers through as long a period as possible, choosing workers who would best illustrate all the various conditions of employment.

iii. To note any other information.

As regards i., we have the wage sheets for some 470 separate weeks, in addition to the complete lists of two very small firms for one and four years respectively; ii., the complete earnings of about 130 hands for periods varying from one to fourteen years.

Owing to the fact that it was impossible to get the complete lists through 1899 for many firms, and that the periods of slackness and full work were not the same in different places, it proved very difficult to handle the wage lists. At last the[Pg 114] plan was adopted of getting complete lists of one busy week, one typical week, and one slack week in 1899, leaving the employers to choose the weeks, unless our investigators could make a complete record. In the following analysis we have endeavoured to bring out the salient features of the statistics of each firm separately, and we have then grouped together all the typical weeks, either chosen by the employer or selected by us from the series; and it is believed that this grouping gives an adequate idea of the wages at a time which the trade regards as ordinary.

The earnings of the 130 individual hands is a very valuable and, it may be, almost unique record. Many interesting facts are brought out by their study, and the records should have a place in sociological literature apart from their interest in the present connection.

It has been necessary to make a technical use of averages in collating and tabulating the material, and we offer the following explanations. Where the word "average" is used without qualification, it is the ordinary arithmetic average, obtained by dividing the total by the number of payees. This is the best for general quantitative measurements.

In most cases the median and quartiles and sometimes the dispersions have been calculated. They may be explained as follows. Suppose the wages of, say, sixty persons to be arranged in ascending order, e.g., 5s., 5s. 3d., 6s., 6s. 1d. ... 11s. 9d., 12s., 12s. 6d., then the wage halfway up the list is the median wage; thus, there are as many individuals above the median as below it. The wages halfway from the ends to the median (i.e., fifteenth and forty-fifth from bottom), are the quartiles, so that between the quartiles half the wages are grouped. Thus, if the median and quartiles in the above list were 7s. 6d., 10s. 6d., 12s. 6d., there would be fifteen earning less than 7s. 6d., fifteen more than 12s. 6d., thirty between 7s. 6d. and 12s. 6d., thirty below and thirty above 10s. 6d. For a single measurement of the grouping of the wages about their median, the distance between it and the quartiles is significant: in this example 3s. and 2s. are these distances. The more convenient way of stating this is to express half the distance between the quartiles (2s. 6d.) as a fraction of their average 10s., which is generally very nearly the median. This fraction (1/4 or ·:25) we call the dispersion, and it enables us to study[Pg 115] the changing character of a group in a very simple and efficient manner.


FIRM A.Information obtained.—Wages of thirty-six hands tabulated week by week through 1899.

Total amount paid in wages and total number employed each week, 1885-1899.

The whole wages sheet for one week in July and one week in November for each of these fifteen years.

A. is a firm employing from fifty to one hundred and ten women and girls as folders, stitchers and sewers. The number employed has changed gradually; in 1885-7 there were about a hundred: from 1888 to 1894 the number continually diminished to sixty, and after a brief spurt in the autumn of 1894 to one hundred and fifteen and a rapid fall, has from 1895 to 1899 gradually risen from fifty to ninety.

Through the fifteen years which the statistics cover, 1885-1899, the annual average (roughly calculated) has fluctuated within the narrow limits of 8s. 9d. and 10s. 6d.; it was above 10s. in 1888, 1889, 1897, 1898, 1899; below 9s. in 1886 and 1894. This average includes the learners. But when examined more minutely it is seen that the fluctuations week by week and month by month are very rapid. Briefly, there is a change of about 4s. in four-weekly cycles. Thus in November, 1899, the averages for the five weeks were 10s., 11s. 2d., 13s. 9d., 13s. 10d., 12s.

In November the wages are much higher than in July, and evidently more regular in character; the number earning near the average is also greater. Thus the "dispersion" in November is generally about ·:2 (the quartiles and median being, for example, 12s., 15s., 18s.); while in July it is generally about ·:4 (e.g., 3s. 9d., 6s. 3d., 8s. 9d.). Again, it seems quite doubtful each year whether there will be any July wages worth the name; the median in four weeks selected each year in July changes from 2s. 11d. to 8s. 2d.; while that for selected weeks in November is from 10s. 8d. to 17s. 11d., a smaller proportionate variation.

The majority are piece workers.

The following table shows the wages in two weeks (slack and[Pg 116] busy) in 1899. The figures are probably typical of similar weeks in previous years.

July 14th, 1899.Nov. 29th, 1899.
s.d.s.d.Numbers earning.Numbers earning.
July 14th, 1899: Median, 7s.; Quartiles, 5s. 8d., 9s. 11d.; Dispersion, ·:27.
Nov. 29th, 1899: Median, 14s. 6d.; Quartiles, 11s. 10d., 19s.; Dispersion, ·:23.
Year. Week
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.

For the 15 years: 1st six months, 9s.; 2nd six months, 10s.; year, 9s. 6d.

FIRM B.Information obtained.—Wages of five hands tabulated week by week, for years 1886-99, 1887-99, 1896-99, 1898-99, 1899, respectively.

[Pg 117]

Monthly earnings and half-yearly bonus for all regular hands, 1888-99.

Weekly wages of all hands throughout eighteen months in the years 1886-96 and 1899, three weeks in 1877 and two in 1898.

This firm employs folders, stitchers, and sewers.—The number of permanent hands employed increased with slight variations from two in 1886 to twelve in 1899. Jobbers are occasionally employed, sometimes as many as there are permanent hands.

Considering the regular hands and choosing each year a wage earner near the median for that year, we have the following table.

in Year.
Bonus. Average
per week,
£ s. s. d. s. d.

[x] (half-year)

[y] (9 months)

In a typical week, January 5th-12th, 1899, the wages were:

Full workers, average, 16s. 2d.

1 at 21s.

5 between 16s. and 17s.

4 at 15s. and 16s.

1 at 14s. 10d.

1 at 12s. 9d.

Learners in their third year, 2 at 10s. 6d.

Learners in their second year, 1 at 5s.

9 jobbers, average 5s. 5d.

1 at 7s. 2d.

4 between 5s. and 7s.

4 less than 5s.

Average, for all except learners, 11s. 7d.

FIRM C.Information obtained.—Complete list of wages for first week in every month, from January, 1897, to February, 1900.

Full lists in five weeks described as "slack," "busy," or "typical."

[Pg 118]

The wages of fifteen hands tabulated, most of them throughout 1897-99.

The work is divided into four departments:—

Binders, from twenty-nine to thirty-eight hands. The median wage fluctuated in the three years between 11s. and 17s., excluding holiday weeks; 13s. is the general average. About six are on time wages.

In the warehouse, where Government folding is done, five hands are employed. The median wage of this group fluctuated in 1897 between 16s. and 27s., being low at the end of 1897. In 1898 and 1899 it was a little steadier, averaging about 21s. (piece rates).

In the envelope room, where folding and relief stamping is done, seven to thirteen hands are employed. The median wage is very variable, fluctuating from 9s. to 16s., and averaging about 12s., chiefly time wages.

Machine ruling is done by from four to eleven girls. Their median wage was nearly steady at 6s. in 1897 and 1898, and rose regularly to 8s. in 1899. Nominally these were time wages.

The following table shows detailed wages in five selected weeks (learners excluded).

Typical Weeks. Busy
Above 20s.00220
18s. to 20s.00150
16s. " 18s.539131
14s. " 16s.710430
12s. " 14s.74762
10s. " 12s.844114
8s. " 10s.33109
6s. " 8s.12003
4s. " 6s.25001
Envelope Room—
20s. to 22s.20000
18s. " 20s.22220
16s. " 18s.23121
14s. " 16s.01201
12s. " 14s.11011
10s. " 12s.11221
8s. " 10s.22111
6s. " 8s.10013
4s. " 6s.01101
2s. " 4s.00001
Machine Ruling—
8s. to 9s. 2 0 2 4 0
7s. " 8s. 3 3 0 0 0
6s. " 7s. 1 3 0 1 0
5s. " 6s. 2 2 0 0 7
4s. " 5s. 0 2 0 0 4
3s. " 4s. 0 1 0 0 1
2s. " 3s. 0 0 0 0 0
Warehouse Earnings. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
22  4 24  1 27  9 28  0 21  6
22  1 24  1 26 10 26 10 20  8
22  1 23  3 26  4 26  3 20  8
20  5 22  1 24  6 24  9 19  3
12  7 20 10 11  3 24  0 15  6

[Pg 119]

FIRM D.Information obtained.—Complete lists of wages in all weeks in 1899. Wages of thirty-one hands tabulated week by week through 1899.

The lists are made up in five divisions.

1. Sixty-five to seventy-eight employed in sewing, folding and collating (of whom eleven to seventeen are learners). Excluding Bank Holiday weeks and learners, the average wage fluctuates only between 10s. and 13s. 9d. Average for 1st half, 12s.; 2nd half, 11s. 6d.; year, 11s. 9d.

2. Eighty to ninety (including sixteen to twenty-three learners), collating and sewing. Average from 10s. 7d. to 16s. 3d. Average for 1st half, 13s. 5d.; 2nd half, 13s. 2d.; year, 13s. 3d.

3. Eighty-three to ninety-two (including thirteen to thirty learners), folding. Average from 10s. 6d. to 16s. 5d. Average for 1st half, 13s.; 2nd half, 13s.; year, 13s.

4. Layers-on, about six. Average fluctuates from 12s. to 24s. 8d.; 1st half, 15s. 7d.; 2nd half, 16s. 11d.; year, 16s. 3d.

5. Lookers-over, four or six. Fluctuates from 11s. 8d. to 15s. 10d. Average for year, 13s. 8d.

[Pg 120]

The following table shows detailed wages in five selected weeks.

Slack Weeks. Typical Weeks. Busy.
Feb. 24th,
Feb. 23rd,
June 30th,
Oct. 13th,
Dec. 8th,
Above 24s.00112
22s. to 24s.00135
20s. " 22s.213316
18s. " 20s.63111033
16s. " 18s.2320264036
14s. " 16s.4558515259
12s. " 14s.4044453817
10s. " 12s.3532262419
  8s. " 10s.2419152417
  6s. "   8s.15156187
  4s. "   6s.99450
  2s. "   4s.11200
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Median 12  9 13  4 14  0 13  8 14 10
Quartiles 15 0 14 9 15 6 16 0 18 0
10 0 10 4 11 4 10 6 13 4
Dispersion ·:20 ·:17 ·:18 ·:20 ·:15

FIRM E.Information obtained.—Complete wage list for one week each month from August, 1894, to December, 1899.

Wages of eight hands tabulated, five through the whole period.

Folding, stitching and sewing are done. Number employed was nearly regular, but increased from forty to sixty, and fell back to fifty.

The median fluctuates rapidly and greatly, but shows a gradual rise from 13s. (with fluctuations down to 8s. and up to 16s.) to 16s. (with fluctuations down to 10s. and up to 19s.). The "dispersion" has changed little, and was about ·:15.

The following weeks (table p. 121) show the general run of wages.

[Pg 121]

Above 24s. 0 0 0 0 0 4 1 0
22s. to 24s.10002100
20s. " 22s.10315941
18s. " 20s.110199132
16s. " 18s.153012870
14s. " 16s.41010371093
12s. " 14s.8171849679
10s. " 12s.138141230412
8s. " 10s.9771901313
6s. " 8s.4521010010
4s. " 6s.00020001
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Meridian 11  4 12  7 12  5  9 10 16  5 17  8 16  3 10  3
Quartiles 12 11 14  7 14  4 10 11 18  7 20  1 18 10 12  0
 9  8 10  8 10  7  8  4 13  5 15  5 13  9  8  4
Dispersion ·:14 ·:16 ·:14 ·:13 ·:16 ·:13 ·:16 ·:17

FIRM F.Information obtained.—Wages for all hands each week in 1896, and until March, 1900. So few are employed that no average can be given, and the wages are treated later under individual hands.

Also a small bookbinding firm.

1. A quick folder; wages generally from 12s. to 16s., but fluctuations down to 5s. and up to 20s.

2. A quick sewer; very fluctuating, about 10s.

3. A collator at 3¼d. per hour; 12s., with fluctuations.

FIRM G.Information obtained.—List of wages paid in 2nd week in each month, 1896, February, 1900, and four other weeks.

Wages of fourteen hands; six throughout the period.

Machine Ruling.—Four to nine hands, generally seven to nine. Time wages. Median moves slowly and steadily from 6s. to 7s. during 1896-99.

[Pg 122]


Weeks Selected at Beginning and End of Data.

1896. 1899.
Feb. 8th. July 11th. Nov. 14th. July 8th. Nov. 11th. Dec. 9th.
0 0 4 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 5 0
to 24s.
to 22s.
to 20s.
to 18s.
to 16s.
to 14s.
to 12s.
to 10s.
to 8s.
to 6s.
to 4s.
000 000 001 000
(Apprentices excluded.)
15s. 16s.
14s. 16s.

[Pg 123]

Stamping.—Four, increasing to twelve hands, sometimes sixteen. The low wages are time (presumably learners); the rest piece. Time hands are excluded in the medians here, and in binding and despatch. Median is sometimes fluctuating, but not far from 12s. or 13s. for long.

s.d. s.d.
1896 1st half-year 14 3 2nd half-year 11 0
1897 1st half-year 13 0 2nd half-year 13 0
1898 1st half-year 12 4 2nd half-year 11 11
1899 1st half-year 12 6 2nd half-year 11 11
1900 1st half-year 14 2 (two months)

Binding room, including despatch, till middle of 1897, when numbers fell from forty to twenty. The despatch room, beginning with twenty, increased to thirty hands.

Binding—median varies from 11s. to 17s.

s.d. s.d.
1896 1st half-year 14 1 2nd half-year 16 1
1897 1st half-year 14 8 2nd half-year 15 4
1898 1st half-year 15 0 2nd half-year 14 4
1899 1st half-year 14 2 2nd half-year 13 11
1900 1st half-year 14 2 (two months)

Despatch—median steadier and rising.

s.d. s.d.
1897 1st half-year — — 2nd half-year 15 0
1898 1st half-year 17 6 2nd half-year 18 11
1899 1st half-year 19 4 2nd half-year 20 9
1900 1st half-year 16 3 (two months)

FIRM H.Information obtained.—Wage list, 3rd week in every month, 1895-98. Every week in 1899, and eight special weeks. Wages of three hands tabulated throughout period.

Work done.—Printers' folding, sewing, magazines. No bookbinding. Twenty-four to thirty-eight hands. Median very variable; e.g., July, 1899, 14s. 2d., 16s. 6d., 13s. 7d., 15s. 10d.

s.d. s.d.
1895 1st half-year 11 5 2nd half-year 13 3
1896 1st half-year 13 10 2nd half-year 12 4
1897 1st half-year 12 11 2nd half-year 10 2
1898 1st half-year 11 5 2nd half-year 16 0
1899 1st half-year 13 1 2nd half-year 14 1

General trend to 13s.

[Pg 124]

Slack. Typical. Busy. Slack. Busy. Typical.
(3 learners)
Median 11s. 9s.4d. 10s. 3d. 15s. 6d. 17s. 9s. 3d. 14s. 7d. 17s. 2d.

FIRM I. —Publishers and bookbinders. No printers' folding. Information obtained.—Wage lists: 2nd week in each month, October, 1898, to March, 1900. Total wages every week to March, 1900. Wages of nine hands tabulated throughout.

[Pg 125]

Median varies
Quarterly Averages (excluding Bank Holiday).
1898. 1899. 1899. 1899. 1899. 1900.
s. d.  s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Collators (18 to 23) 11  0 to 21  4 20  2 19  3 16  9 13  4 20  8 17  3
Sewers (27 to 40)  7  0 to 15  6 14  0 12  8  9 10  8  6 13  6 13  0
Folders (53 to 91)  8  3 to 14  2 13  2 13  0  8 11 10  0 12  2 10  5
Time workers
 putting in
 plates (17 to 22)
13  0 to 16 4 15  8 15 11 13  6 13  4 15  0 14  0

48 hours: no record of overtime.

Nov. 11th,
March 10th,
July 14th,
Nov. 10th,
Feb. 9th,
32s. to 34s.13121
30s. " 32s.13010
28s. " 30s.42021
26s. " 28s.13020
24s. " 26s.51081
22s. " 24s.24042
20s. " 22s.1191103
18s. " 20s.14160113
16s. " 18s.201621414
14s. " 16s.2522101315
12s. " 14s.2228183032
10s. " 12s.2432202524
 8s. " 10s.141727615
 6s. "  8s.7530411
 4s. "  6s.331815
 2s. "  4s.43300
 0s. "  2s.21000

The total wage bill was:—

1898. £ 1899. £ 1899. £ 1900. £
Oct. 462 Jan. 428 July 245 Jan. 330
Nov. 483 Feb. 471 Aug. 263 Feb. 346

[x] Five weeks.

Total in 4th quarter, 1898 1375
Total in 1st quarter, 1899 1468
Total in 2nd quarter, 1899 990
Total in 3rd quarter, 1899 1010
Total in 4th quarter, 1899 1240
Total in 1st quarter, 1900 1084

[Pg 126]

FIRM J. —A firm undertaking magazine work. Information obtained.—General statement of ordinary wages. Wages in three selected weeks.

Bookfolding, stitching, wrapping, etc. (magazine work). Work is regular for three weeks; none in the fourth.


Slack Week,
Feb. 8th,
Typical Week,
Feb. 15th, 1901.
Busy Week,
March 1st, 1901.
22s. to 24s. 0 1 34s. to 36s. 2
20s. " 22s. 0 0 32s. " 34s. 0
18s. " 20s. 0 2 30s. " 32s. 3
16s. " 18s. 0 4 28s. " 30s. 0
14s. " 16s. 0 4 26s. " 28s. 3
12s. " 14s. 0 1 24s. " 26s. 1
10s. " 12s. 3 1 22s. " 24s. 0
 8s. " 10s. 4 1 20s. " 22s. 3
 6s. "  8s. 6 0 18s. " 20s. 1
s. d. s. d. s. d.
Median 8  0 15  9 26  4
Average  8  4 15  7 25 11

FIRM K. —A publisher's bookbinder. Information obtained.—Wage sheet for three selected weeks in 1898-9.

A week as slack as the slack week here given, was only experienced two or three times.

Typical. Busy. Slack.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
Folders (piece) 46 13  1 55 15  8 43 8  7
Sewing machinists(piece) 8 22  2 8 31  1 8 11  7
Collators (time) 3 26 10 3 27  2 5 14  5
Layers-on (piece) 4 14  0 4 19  7 3 16 11
Learners 2  4  1½ 2  8  7 2  3  7

[Pg 127]

Typical. Busy. Slack.
36s. to 38s.100
34s. " 36s.010
32s. " 34s.000
30s. " 32s.071
28s. " 30s.110
26s. " 28s.110
24s. " 26s.011
22s. " 24s.120
20s. " 22s.940
18s. to 20s.3132
16s. " 18s.683
14s. " 16s.7144
12s. " 14s.11102
10s. " 12s.13715
8s. to 10s.3116
6s. " 8s.309
4s. " 6s.104
2s. " 4s.102
s. d.s. d.s. d.
Median13 316 109 6
Quartiles19 119 10½11 1
11 113 10½7 10

FIRM L. —Compositors.—Information obtained: Complete wages of the six hands employed through 1900.

No. 1 has been in the trade two and a half years. In 1900 she was away seven weeks (three, slack trade; two, holidays; two, ill); in the remaining forty-five weeks her wages fluctuated between 5s. and 18s. 3d., reached a total of £28 15s. 9d., making an average of 11s. 1d. weekly through the year, or 12s. 7d. per week employed.

No. 2 lost four weeks in 1900 through slack trade. In the remaining forty-eight weeks her wages fluctuated between 5s. 6d. and 23s.; reached a total of £40 4s. 11d., making an average of 15s. 6d. weekly through the year.

No. 3 made £52 9s., working fifty-one weeks at £1 per week, making 29s. overtime, and taking one week's holiday; average, 20s. 2d. weekly for the year.

No. 4 made £37 16s. in forty-four weeks, lost five weeks[Pg 128] through slack trade, and took three weeks' holiday; average, 14s. 6d. weekly for the year.

No. 5 made £39 1s. 9d. in forty-six weeks, lost four weeks through slack trade, was ill one week and took one week's holiday; average, 15s. weekly for the year.

No. 6 made £22 1s. 6d. in forty-eight weeks, lost three weeks through slack trade, was ill for one week. She was unsuccessful in her work, and only averaged 8s. 4d. a week through the year.

FIRM M.—A press warehouse. Information obtained.—Wage list in three selected weeks.

Week Ending
Feb. 9th, 1900.
Average wage.
Week Ending
Nov. 24th, 1899.
Average wage.
Week Ending
July 21st, 1899.
Average wage.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
Time workers3615  03715  63113  5
Folders (piece)4113  35014  53111 10
Sewers (piece)714  7713  612 9  1
Apprentices11 4  111 4  25 4  4
Feb. 9th, 1900. Nov. 24th, 1899. July 21st, 1899.
Above 26s. 1 1 0
24s. to 26s. 001
22s. " 24s. 010
20s. " 22s. 152
18s. " 20s. 361
16s. " 18s. 1419 1
14s. " 16s. 252219
12s. " 14s. 161820
10s. " 12s. 121515
8s. " 10s. 843
6s. " 8s. 333
4s. " 6s. 005
2s. " 4s. 10 44
s. d.s. d.s. d.
Median 14 314 912 9
Quartiles 15 917 014 9
10 912 211 1
Dispersion ·:19 ·:16 ·:14
(Excluding Apprentices.)

[Pg 129]

FIRM N. —Bookbinders. Information obtained.—Complete wage sheets for three selected weeks. Folders, piece; collators, time.

Dec. 15th, 1899.
Busy Week.
Average wage.
Oct. 6th, 1899.
Typical Week.
Average wage.
Aug. 18th, 1899.
Slack Week.
Average wage.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
No. Av.
s. d.
Collators 1815 7 1711 3 1811 0
Folders 2013 9 1211 10 99 0
Learners 164 6 54 1 72 9
1 Sewing Machinist, 23 9
Dec. 15th, 1899.
Busy Week.
Oct. 6th, 1899.
Typical Week.
Aug. 18th, 1899.
Slack Week.
20s. to 22s.410
18s. " 20s.311
16s. " 18s.1010
14s. " 16s.1063
12s. " 14s.1105
10s. " 12s.4610
8s. " 10s.231
6s. " 8s.213
4s. " 6s.013
2s. " 4s.201
s. d.s. d.s. d.
Median 15 812 911 3
Quartiles 16 614 612 9
11 1011 08 0
Dispersion ·:16 ·:16 ·:21
(Excluding Learners.)

FIRM O. Information obtained.—Wage lists in three selected weeks, probably in first half of 1900. Five hands.

Busy. Slack.
s. d. s. d. s. d.
Folder17 620 012 6
Stitcher21 026 015 0
Sewer12 015 08 6
Laying-on12 015 011 0
Learner5 05 05 0

[Pg 130]

FIRM P. Information obtained.—Wage lists in three selected weeks. Wages of twelve selected workers in these weeks.

1 at 27s.4d. 1 at 28s.2d. 1 at 30s.8d.
Above 24s.020
22s. to 24s.002
20s. " 22s.0112
18s. " 20s.01324
16s. " 18s.82321
14s. " 16s.173021
12s. " 14s.262013
10s. " 12s.2499
8s. " 10s.1071
6s. " 8s.301
4s. " 6s.100
90 106 105
s. d.s. d.s. d.
Median 15 015 316 8
Quartiles 14 017 219 2
10 813 014 3
Dispersion ·:11 ·:14 ·:15

FIRM Q. Information obtained.—Wage lists in eleven selected weeks. Work done—machine ruling in its higher branches, usually done by men; also paging and numbering (see table, p. 131).

[Pg 131]


1890. 1891. 1897. 1898. 1899.
20s. to 22s.33003000001
18s. " 20s.22324243222
16s. " 18s.964657681109
14s. " 16s.9811108101064910
12s. " 14s.1514121213121196710
10s. " 12s.5766456101057
8s. " 10s.69678835874
6s. " 8s.681074445656
4s. " 6s.886324794614
2s. " 4s.56135672881
0s. " 2s.00000000100
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Median 12 6 11 3 12 2 12 4 12 10 12 4 12 0 11 4  9 6 10 0 12 0
Quartiles 15 4 14 3 14 6 14 9 15 6 15 0 15 0 15 0 13 0 15 4 15 2
7 4 7 0 7 7 8 2 8 9 8 0 6 0 7 3 6 0 6 4 6 4
Dispersion ·:3 ·:3 ·:3 ·:3 ·:28 ·:3 ·:4 ·:35 ·:37 ·:41 ·:35

Additional information from other firms, 1900-1901:—

FIRM R.—Bookbinders. Folders and sewers, 14s., 15s.; head banders, 15s.; forty-eight hours weekly all the year.

FIRM S.—Eleven numberers; median, 17s. 8d.

FIRM T.—Printing works. Piece workers make 5d. an hour; time workers, 5½d. Four compositors: average, busy week, 23s. 2d.; typical, 19s. 11d.; slack, 18s. 9d.

FIRM U.—Vellum sewers, 12s. to 13s. all the year round; numerical printers, average week, 15s. to 16s.; slack week, 10s.

[Pg 132]


No. Median. Quartiles.
Folders (piece work): s. d. s. d. s. d.
Slack week 38 12s.  1d. 9s. 6d. 16s. 0d.
Typical week 44 15s.  6d. 15s. 6d. 20s. 9d.
Typical week 44 15s.  6d. 15s. 6d. 20s. 9d.
Busy week 38 20s.  1d. 17s. 10d. 20s. 0d.
Counters (time workers). Stitchers. .1 Packer.
No. Median. No. Median. No.
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Slack Week 16 10 0 9 9 9 19 1
Typical Week 14 11 6 9 11 7 20 0
Busy Week 14 11 7 9 11 2 20 0

In this case there is very little to choose between the weeks entered as "typical" and "busy" by the employer.

FIRM W. —Two compositors make, at 5½d. an hour, 22s. or 23s. nearly every week in the year.

The inclusion of the eighty-four workers, of whom we have sufficient details in firms R. to W., would affect the figures on p. 133 below very slightly, raising the median and upper quartile 2d., and increasing the proportion between 18s. and 22s. to 13½ per cent. of the whole instead of 12¼ per cent.


The material is not sufficiently complete or homogeneous to allow any complete account of wages at any date; but the tables now given (supplemented occasionally by the raw material) allow us to offer an estimate of the grouping in a typical week of 1899, supposing each firm to be paying typical wages in one and the same week. This method is rough, and will not support any fine calculations to be based on it; but at the same time it affords a view, sufficiently accurate for most purposes, of the general trend and distribution of wages. All classes of workers, except apprentices and learners, are included.


Less than 2s. 2s. to 4s. 4s. to 6s. 6s. to 8s. 8s. to 10s. 10s. to 12s.
1 17 41 68 92 131
12s. to
14s. to
16s. to
18s. to
20s. to
22s. to
174 177 131 72 55 17 25
Of those above 24s.:
24s. to
26s. to
28s. to
30s. to
32s. to
36s. to
11 6 4 1 2 1

[Pg 133]

These figures are so similar in many respects to those which generally arise when a large group of trades are massed together, that they afford strong evidence that they make a fair sample.

Remembering the roughness of the hypothesis, and not assuming that these wages multiplied by fifty-two give annual earnings, we find, in a week which the employers regard as typical, the following: Average, 13s. 8d.; median, 13s. 8d.; quartiles, 10s. 6d., 16s. 10d.; dispersion .23. Thus, half the wage earners obtain between 10s. 6d. and 16s. 10d.; and 80 per cent. obtain from 7s. 4d. to 20s.

There is some doubt as to who are and who should properly be included at both ends of the series. At the lower end, no doubt, some learners have been included, and some piece workers excluded, for in a typical week there would certainly be some cases where the wages were abnormally low. On the other hand, in the large number above 24s., no doubt many above the status of the ordinary worker are included, and some are definitely stated to be forewomen.

If we omit all above 24s., we have: Average, 13s. 4d.; median, 13s. 7d.; quartiles, 10s. 5d., 16s. 6d.

The difference in these averages is not significant.

The table is best written in percentage.

2s. to
4s. to
6s. to
8s. to
10s. to
12s. to
2 4 7 9 13 17
14s. to
16s. to
18s. to
20s. to
22s. to
18 13 7 2 per cent. earning.

Note, that if these wages were repeated week by week through the year the average worker would make about £35.

[Pg 134]


Where wages are continually fluctuating week by week and month by month, while, in addition, there are depressions and inflations affecting various groups of workers for one or two years, it is a matter of very great statistical difficulty to determine whether wages have on the whole been stationary, rising, or falling. Even if we had a complete account year by year these difficulties would remain; but as it is we are dependent on the records of only seven firms—good, bad, or indifferent—since 1885, 1887, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, and 1898, respectively. No amount of further research would make such records more than very insufficient, for it is very rarely that the figures are preserved for any length of time. What changes there are may very likely be due to peculiarities of a particular firm, to its success, or to changes in character of work, and only in case of agreement in all the figures could we generalise. Our conclusions, then, will be chiefly negative.

There is no sufficient evidence that wages in 1899 are above or below wages about 1895, 1890 or 1885; the only difference appears to be due to individual busy or slack years.

In the two cases (C. and G.) where machine rulers are separated their wages have risen from 6s. to 8s. in 1897-99.

As regards the years 1896-99, there is no general agreement as to any two years, but the figures are consistent with a slight general improvement from 1895 to 1900.

There is nothing in the figures to show that the course of wages in Firm A. given above is different from that in the trade in general, while there is just a little evidence that it is the same. We therefore repeat the annual average wage in that firm:—

1885.      1886.      1887.      1888.      1889.      1890.      1891-2. 9s. 1d.    8s. 10d.      9s.      9s. 4d.    10s. 1d.    10s. 6d.    9s. 6d. 1892-3.    1894.      1895.      1896.      1897-8.      1899. 9s.      8s. 11d.    9s. 4d.    9s. 8d.    10s. 4d.    10s. 1d.


The occupations are so involved, and the arrangements differ so much from firm to firm, that it is impracticable to state a definite wage for any occupation, and the wages are so diverse that it is useless to speak of an average wage. The table on p. 135 gives a general view of the wages of those hands who can be labelled with some exactness, and it is seen that the facts are so complex that they cannot be summarised in a few words. The wages included are the actual weekly averages (total annual receipts divided by fifty-two) in 1899, except where they are otherwise distinguished.

[Pg 135]


Numbers whose average weekly wages were
Under 6s. 6s. to 8s. 8s. to 10s. 10s. to 12s. 12s. to 14s. 14s. to 16s. 16s. to 18s. 18s. to 20s. 20s. to 22s. Above 22s. Median
Hand-folders 0 0 2 4 2 3 0 1 1 0 13 4
Folders who were also sewing
machinists, gatherers, placers
or sewers
0 0 3 2 10 2 0 0 0 0 12 6
Hand-sewers, or collators
and gatherers
0 2 0 3 3 2 4 3 0 0 15 0
Folders who were also
or stitchers
{18 6
0 0 0 1 2 3 6 12 3 6 {Maximum
{26 10
Folders in typical week, 1901 9 1 1 1 3 8 4 4 8 5 15 6
Gatherers 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 18 0
Inserters 0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0
Numberers 0 0 0 1 1 2 4 4 1 0 17 8
Counters in typical week, 1901 0 3 1 4 4 1 0 1 0 0 11 7
Stitchers 0 1 2 2 3 0 0 1 0 0 11 6
Compositors 0 0 1 1 0 3 1 0 4 2 18 6

[Pg 136]


Out of the 130 lists we have, showing the actual earnings week by week of individuals for periods of one to fifteen years, thirty-nine have been selected, twenty-six of which are tabulated on the following pages (Appendix VI.), and twelve of which are represented in the following diagrams. These have been selected as illustrating the various classes of workers and of work.

The most noticeable characteristic of the diagrams is the frequency and violence of the fluctuations, and the same is found in a study of the original figures throughout.

A few time hands (Appendix VI.; diagram C), are nearly regular; only one shows perfectly regular earnings; many fluctuate as rapidly as the piece workers (Appendix VI.; diagram D. 2), and on the sheets we have several actual records of lost time and overtime, showing how these changes arise; others show a steady increase with slight movements (Appendix VI.; diagram A. 4).

The four Bank Holiday seasons are marked on most of the diagrams and wage lists.

The most interesting, novel, and important feature of these lists is the light thrown on the very obscure relation (obscure in all branches of industry) between "nominal," "average," or "typical" wages and actual annual earnings; there are in existence very few actual records of individuals' earnings over a series of years for any workers in the United Kingdom. The workers included in the list are among the more regular ones, who succeed in keeping their place month after month. Though the wages vary so greatly week by week, yet when we come to take the average over any period greater than, say, two months, we find there is but little variation. Thus, in the example from Firm B. in diagram, the quarterly average is between 16s. and 17s. for nine years, except for absence in two quarters, and[Pg 137] the annual average is still more regular. The great bulk of the regular workers (folders and the like) make a sum between £30 and £40 every year, and between £7 and £11 every quarter.

In view of this result, periodic pressure becomes relatively unimportant for the regular hands. There is no season in the industry as a whole shown in the wage lists. The different firms and different workers have in many cases their regular times of pressure like bank clerks and schoolmasters; these times are sometimes monthly, sometimes quarterly. In other cases no rule is to be discovered.

The most important effect of this irregular pressure is in the number of jobbers employed.


Jobbers usually come in at the busy season and make good money. As they go from house to house, it is impossible to get a full account of any particular jobber's earnings.

Jobbers are frequently employed in Firm B, and in many cases the highest wage earned is by a jobber. Thus in the last week of April, 1895, out of thirty workers, fifteen were jobbers; the eleven highest sums were earned by them, five being over £1.


The distinction between time rates and piece rates is not vital; the method of payment seems to be accidental, and the custom varies from house to house. Machine rulers seem generally to have time rates, and these are among the lowest earners, while some of the best paid permanent hands are also time. On looking through the lists of individuals' earnings, it is seen that time earnings are sometimes quite as variable as piece earnings, for hours worked fluctuate continually. In other cases the time payment is much more regular, showing fluctuations only at holidays.



(a) Method, Indentures or not.

(b) Length.

(c) Age when it begins.

(d) Premiums.

(e) Wages during training.

Comparison between length of training in vogue now and formerly, to be obtained where possible.

2.—WAGES (Forms appended).

Wages throughout the factory or workshop for two or three slack and two or three busy weeks to be obtained where possible, and for a few ordinary hands throughout the year.


(a) Describe the nature of the work, and subdivisions.

(b) Is it a season trade?

(c) Is it healthy? Is there a special trade disease?

(d) Is much strength or intelligence needed?

(e) Is dangerous machinery used?

(f) Average hours per week; meal hours.

(g) Is there a chance of rising? If so, to what position?


What attempts have been made to organise women, and with what success?

Attitude towards, and knowledge about, Women's Unions?


How long do women remain in the trade?

Proportion of married to unmarried.

Are there signs of married women lowering rates of pay?

Comparison between married and unmarried as workers.

[Pg 140]


(A.) Economic effects:—

(a) Instances of women being turned off owing to Factory Legislation.

(b) Do the restrictions imposed by the Factory Acts hinder the employment of women?

(c) How far do these restrictions influence wages?

(d) How far has legislation diverted the industry from or to, factory, workshop, or home?

(B.) Contrast between conditions of work before and after Act of 1867.


Instances where either sex replaces the other, and the reasons for it in each case.

Relative wages when men and women do the same work.

If women's wage is lower, why is it?

Attitude of Men's Unions towards female labour.


How far has machinery increased or diminished women's work?

How far does the cheapness of women's work tend to retard the introduction of machinery?


In which branches is this done, and to what extent?

Plant required.

Rates of pay compared with work done inside.

Why, from the point of view of the home worker in each case, is home work done?


Occupation of husband.

Amount contributed towards home expenses.

[Pg 141]


1. A.,[94] A well-known Printing Firm in London. Employée's Information.

[94] Index letters by which reference is made to the firm in the body of the volume, except in the chapter on wages.

WORK.—Folding, sewing, numbering, etc.

REGULARITY.—The work is not seasonal, at any rate at A.

HEALTH.—Numbering is very bad for a weak chest and makes one's head ache as well. Girls with weak chests cannot stand it. Folding, however, is not unhealthy unless the hours are too long.

HOURS.—At B. they are 48 per week; but at A. they are 53½, distributed as follows:—Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea being allowed each full working day.

GENERAL. The sanitary arrangements are very bad at A., and lavatories open straight out of workrooms, and are in very bad condition. One does not use them unless she wants to get a fever. The company is very mixed. "You can tell that it is rather a low place, because the girls wear curlers and nothing is said. When one works at B. she has to take out curlers before she comes. You can always tell the sort of place when the girls wear curlers."

2. A well-known Printing Firm in London. Forewoman's Information.

WORK.—6 or 7 girls are employed at machine ruling, and a few at vellum sewing and folding.

REGULARITY.—The girls are kept on all the year round.

HOURS.—The hours are from 8 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea.

PROSPECTS.—Might rise to forewomen, but that not common.

GENERAL.—Work girls have nothing to complain of now; they are always very well looked after.

3. S., Small Printing Firm in London. Employée's Evidence.

WORK.—16 girls and 1 man (who is an engineer) are employed, S. helping himself. Upstairs there are 2 men "blocking," and 2 girls [Pg 142]powdering for them. The girls do all the printing, e.g., the informant can set up the type, lock it into the frame, make ready, and then feed the platen machine—which alone is used in this firm. Informant can also clean the machine. She also does "bronzing," i.e., dusting-on bronze with a pad. The girls powdering upstairs do nothing else. A few younger girls fold circulars.

REGULARITY.—Work is steady, and they are always busy.

HEALTH.—Bronzing is most unhealthy. ——'s colour has all gone since she was put on to it a few weeks ago. "You are supposed to have milk to drink, but you never get more than half a cupful at the end of the day, when it is too late. The inspector has been round and has asked about the milk, but of course the manager said that milk was always given." (Informant looked very ill.) She had to stay away from work all the previous Thursday, and lost a shilling in consequence. Her father and mother say she must leave the work or she will die. "You see, they lost a brother of mine at twenty-three and a sister at thirteen, and they don't want me to go off too."

The powdering done by the girls in the blocking room is very unhealthy. None of them can stand it long. They get ill and go off elsewhere. It brings on consumption.

Feeding machines is very tiring.

One girl works the cutting machine, which is unfit for a woman and very dangerous. A girl who worked it lost her finger and was six weeks in hospital, but the firm paid her well not to tell. The printing machines are dangerous, for you often get your fingers caught; it comes back quicker than you expect.

HOURS.—The hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with one hour for dinner and a quarter of an hour for tea; on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., with half an hour for a meal. They never get away at 6 though, not till 6.30 or later, for there are the machines to be cleaned and things to be cleared up.

GENERAL.—Mr. S. sometimes comes round and talks as if he were the kindest of employers. "He'll say, 'Take care of your head, there, dear.' It makes you sick to hear him. If he'd give better wages it would be more to the point."

4. Q., Job Printing Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—I went through the works and saw 10 extra young girls sticking on pockets for stamps on to an appeal sheet of ...; one girl feeding a platen machine which was gumming instead of printing; 4 or 5 upstairs in the regular folding room folding....

REGULARITY.—Q. has only 4 or 5 regular hands, and when there is a rush of work, he takes on job hands. "You put up a bill and can easily get 100 if you want them." He dislikes the custom, but does not see how it is to be obviated in the printing trade. "You suddenly have 75,000 circulars to do, and you don't know when the next order will be."

HOURS.—The hours are from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner, ten minutes for lunch and ten minutes for tea. Girls prefer[Pg 143] this to half an hour for tea and leaving at 7. On Saturdays the hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., no meal time being allowed. The married women, however, rarely come till 9 a.m.

5. L., Printing, etc., Firm in London. Employée's Evidence.

Work.—200 girls are employed at L.'s. Informant does folding now, used to do sewing by machine.

REGULARITY.—The work is regular, "but you never know when the work is coming in. They are always busy with the ... guides at the end of the month, and two or three job hands come in."

HEALTH.—She has always found the occupation healthy.

PROSPECTS.—None; is slow herself. She has worked at L.'s six years, and has never known of anyone becoming a forelady.

DANGERS.—She has never had an accident, and was working on a machine for five years.

HOURS.—The hours are from 8.30 a.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., with an hour for dinner (from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.), and half an hour for tea (4 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.) and from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Sometimes they are let off early if there is no work. But some girls go and lark about in the street, and then the manager scolds the forelady and she will not let the others go. She never takes a holiday except Bank Holidays.

GENERAL.—Only talks to a few of the girls, but they are quite a nice set.

6. T., Weekly Newspaper Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—Folding, gathering, collating, sewing (all sewing by machinery), or stabbing with wire, insetting, wrappering (glue pot), feeding folding machines.

REGULARITY.—It is more or less regular, but there is the regular weekly and monthly work, so there is less fluctuation than in "binding houses."

Tuesday to Friday are busy days, and the forewoman employs some married women who come in as long as they are wanted.

DANGERS.—One stitching machine is dangerous, the forewoman said; the folded sheet has to be pushed along with the hand and there is the chance of the hand being caught.

HOURS.—The hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., occasionally till 8; one hour being allowed for dinner and half an hour for tea.

PROSPECTS.—The girls may rise to forewomen and a sort of deputy-forewoman, chosen by forewoman, to overlook certain rooms. The girls are not, as a rule, at all eager for the responsibility.

7. Large Bookbinding Firm in London.

(A.) Manager's Information.

WORK.—Folding, sewing, collating, placing plates, laying-on gold, etc.

REGULARITY.—The work is partly seasonal. They are busy in the winter time, and work to limits allowed by the Factory Acts; they[Pg 144] are slack in the summer, and may even have no work for three weeks or so at a time.

DANGERS.—They have only had two accidents. One was with an ordinary sewing machine; the other was with a Bremner machine, when a little girl was setting it up. She caught her finger in it, but was not away from work a fortnight.

HOURS.—They work 48 hours per week, allowing one and a half hours for meals per day, i.e., from 8 a.m to 12, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and from 4.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.; on Saturdays, from 8 a.m to 12. This really comes to 49 hours a week if the girls are punctual, but he reckons 48 hours because they are not punctual.

PROSPECTS.—Only a chance of rising to forewomen.

(B.) Forewoman's Evidence.

REGULARITY.—It is a season trade and they are just beginning to be slack (March) in Miss X.'s shop where the new work is done.

HEALTH.—Miss X. "had been through it all," and thought folding dreadfully tiring. There is nothing specially unhealthy about it.

HOURS.—The hours are supposed to be 49 a week, but if there is any work they do not keep to that. A 48 hours' week only means that the time workers get paid extra. Miss X. worked in a place where they were supposed to have 51 hours a week but rarely made more than 40.

The firm make their girls stay as little as possible when there is no work, but this is very different to most places, as the workpeople are studied here.

(C.) Employée's Evidence.

WORK.—In E., Bible work and new or cloth work are quite separate, and there are separate hands for each. She did folding for the Bible work herself.

HEALTH.—The work is not very healthy. "Sitting all day is bad for you," but there is no special disease. Bible work is light work, as much of it is on India paper; new work is much heavier.

HOURS.—The hours are from 8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with an hour for dinner and half an hour for tea, but when busy they work till 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. This happens about thirty times a year. They are allowed to go home if there is not work.

[There is a very nice set of girls at the Bible work; they are particular there about whom they take, and it is a very good house to be in.]

GENERAL.—It is rather dull and tiring working because they are not supposed to talk to each other at Bible work.

8. Printing and Stationery Firm in London. General Information.

TRAINING.—In the BOOK-FOLDING and VELLUM SEWING DEPARTMENT the girls have an agreement to serve two years.

Age at beginning.—Fourteen.


[Pg 145]

Wages.—6 months at 1s., 6 months at 2s. 6d., 6 months at 5s., and 6 months at 7s. 6d. per week.

In the NUMBERING, RELIEF STAMPING, etc., PACKING DEPARTMENT there are no indentures or regular system of apprenticeship but girls are expected to serve about two years.

Age at beginning.—Fourteen.


Wages.—Girls start at 1s. per week, for, say, three months, then get three-quarter earnings. Very few are trained in this firm, they take on workers who have learnt elsewhere. How many branches learners are taught seems to depend on chance. Some old hands do all the processes, some only one.

MACHINE RULING.—In this department there is no system. Little girls come and feed at 5s. and 7s. per week. When they have been at it a year or two they are drafted off to other departments.

LITHOGRAPHIC WORK.—There is no regular training in this department. It only takes about two weeks to learn the work done by girls here.

NOTEPAPER FOLDING requires no training. "Why! you could pick it up in a week or two."

WAGES.—The firm does much work for public bodies, and so has to pay "fair" wages. The manager did not seem to know whether this applied to women's work too, but evidently it does.

DEPARTMENT I.—NUMBERING, etc.—The manager gave wages as 11s. to 16s. per week, some being paid on time and some on piece work. The foreman considered 14s. to be about the average. The following girls were questioned:—

One packer got 12s. (time wages) per week.

Another packer got 13s. (time wages) per week.

One piece relief stamper got about 13s. (piece work) per week.

Another piece relief stamper got about 16s. (piece work) per week.

One numberer got 15s. (piece work) per week.

DEPARTMENT II.—LITHOGRAPHIC FEEDING.—Here girls start at 6s. and rise up to 14s. (time wages).

DEPARTMENT III.—MACHINE RULING.—In this department all wages are for time work. Quite little girls receive 4s. or 5s. up to 7s. per week. They are drafted off when they want higher wages than that. There were, however, two older ones in the room who were folding and counting the ruled foolscap paper at 14s. per week.

DEPARTMENT IV.—BOOK-FOLDING, etc.—Out of the 45 girls employed in this department, 10 were on time work, and were being paid from 13s. to 16s. per week. The piece workers, according to the forewoman, were making from 13s. to 16s. per week, taking all the year round. Some were making over 20s. per week.

DEPARTMENT V.—VELLUM WORK.—All 15 girls employed here were on time work. They got 11s. per week when first out of their time; 12s. after two years. None were receiving over 12s., except one who "makes up" at 13s. a week. These wages were given by the[Pg 146] forewoman. The manager seemed surprised that they were not higher, and remarked that they were lower than in the book-folding department. The forewoman said that in most places the vellum workers got more than book workers, but this firm had arranged otherwise.

DEPARTMENT VI.—The girls FOLDING NOTEPAPER in the warehouse were getting 13s. or 14s. (time wages) per week.


The numbering and the stamping are different trades, done by different girls, but most of them can do packing as well, though in some cases they learn packing only. They can mostly do perforating and gumming, odds and ends too. Some were folding postal forms. Special envelope orders are done here. About 35 girls were employed.

There was one man doing the illuminating required and working at a rather heavy press. There was also a good number of youths doing numbering. I tried vainly to find out what they were paid. The manager and the foreman said that they were not doing the same work; it was the same except that a name was stamped on as well as a number (it was on money orders). Two girls were also doing this, but I was assured that that was only "by accident." Two or three boys were perforating and stamping.

DEPARTMENT II.—LITHO PRINTING. Girls were feeding machines and washing rollers. About 12 girls were employed.

DEPARTMENT III.—MACHINE RULING. Little girls were feeding the ruling machines, and a few older ones were counting and folding the foolscap paper; 18 girls were employed.

DEPARTMENT IV.—BOOKBINDING and SEWING. All sorts of folding, sewing and stitching (by machine mostly), eyeletting, etc., etc., were being carried on, and about 45 girls were employed.

DEPARTMENT V.—VELLUM WORK. SEWING, FOLDING, etc., for account books and ledgers was being done; 15 girls were employed, also one girl "laying-on" for cloth work, and two or three running errands.

DEPARTMENT VI.—In the WAREHOUSE were three girls folding notepaper.

REGULARITY.—Work here is constant all the year round. The forewoman in the book-folding department said they only had in job hands about twice a year.

HOURS.—The firm works about 54 hours per week, i.e., from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one hour for dinner, half an hour for tea, and ten minutes for lunch. On Saturdays they work from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

OVERTIME.—It was very difficult to get anything definite about overtime pay. The manager first said that they all got 6d. an hour overtime. Then he said that piece workers were simply paid at piece rates. The forewoman in the book-folding department said that time hands got 4d. an hour overtime. In the vellum work they never had any overtime. These extra payments seem to be irregularly made.

[Pg 147]

PROSPECTS.—The girls can rise to forewoman's position, here or elsewhere. Vellum work forewoman mentioned that two of her young ladies had become forewomen elsewhere.

ORGANISATION.—The manager knew that a Women's Union existed, but thought it was more of a Benefit Society than anything else. He assured me that the problem of the organisation of women's labour was the problem in trade, and seemed vaguely to regret that women were so helpless and ready to be cut down.

MARRIED AND UNMARRIED.—The manager estimated twelve years as the average period that a woman remained in the trade. He fancied that there were a good many married women here; but when we went round and asked the different heads of departments we found that the only married ones were 2 in the litho department, i.e., 2 out of 12 in that department, i.e., 2 out of about 128 employed altogether. In the other departments the forewomen or foremen did not care to have them because they were so irregular. "You can never count on them." Two widows were employed in the book-folding department. The head of the litho department had only lately found out that two of his employees were married—one had run away from her husband, the other's husband was a stone polisher and she had to come out to keep the house going. The manager was very decided that undoubtedly married women's work tended to lower wages. They only want a little to supplement their husbands' earnings. He explained afterwards that his remarks applied more to the provinces than to London. He thought that the thing to aim at in improving the industrial position of women was the abolition of the married woman worker. How this could be done he could not say. The forewoman of the book-folding and sewing department, who had had some experience of married jobbers, said that they would not do ordinary work at ordinary rates, as they did not consider it worth their while. They had not got to earn any money, as they had husbands to fall back upon. The manager said that in the litho department the single girls thought it infra dig. to wash the rollers, but the married women "made no bones about it."

LEGISLATION.—In no case had women been turned away because of restrictive legislation. A certain amount of folding and stitching has to be done by men at night, and he would say that about 2 or 3 men were employed at this for about one hour five nights in the week. Sometimes the folding was not ready till 11 p.m., and the men had to hang about before. The manager thought that the chief grievance of the Factory Acts was that if only one woman in a department was employed overtime, one of the thirty legal nights was thereby used up. The manager thought that it was forty-eight nights you might work overtime, and seemed surprised on looking up the notices to find that it was thirty only. He approved of Factory Legislation on the whole, and thought that women had benefited by it. Personally, he would like to see all overtime abolished by law for men and women. Men worked worse next day when they had had to sit up at night. Public bodies were the worst offenders in the matter, "They have no consciences." The forewoman of the[Pg 148] folding and sewing, where overtime was worked, said that her girls disliked overtime very much; and she did not think it worth while working them, as they could do less work next day in consequence. She had much rather that the men did it at night. She and the manager agreed that in places where women did not make a decent wage by working ordinary hours they might want to work at night. As to the effect Factory Legislation had upon the diverting of work from the home to the workshop, or vice versâ, the manager thought that the tendency had been for work to come in to the factory. There used to be much more home work.

MEN AND WOMEN.—According to the manager, there is a hard and fast line drawn by the various Societies in London as to what a woman may or may not do.

In Bookbinding of all descriptions she is practically confined to folding and sewing. She may not touch a glue brush or do any putting of paper books or magazines into paper covers.

In the provinces, on the other hand, the rules of the Consolidated Societies are different. A woman may do flush binding (i.e., books whose covers are cut on a level with the leaves and which have no "turnings in") up and foolscap size, two quires. Hence women do diaries, etc. In certain works at Tonbridge women are set to do this.

Litter-press Printing.—This firm had never tried female compositors. They had 100 men. If they tried to introduce women, all the men would go out and "you'd have a hornet's nest." The idea of paying women at the same rate as men struck them as ridiculous. "They would never be worth as much because they stay such a little time." They might some day try women compositors in their country establishment.

Feeding Printing Machines.—They might not employ women on platen machines because of the Union, but were going to try them on smallish letter-press machines. The Union had no objection to that.

Machine Ruling.—The firm only had little girls for feeding. The foreman remarked that at R.'s, "over the water," they had women to do most of their ruling, but did not seem to think that it would be worth while to train a woman for it. At first he said that the Men's Union would object, then said that he thought they would not; only he would have to give the woman the same pay as a man, "and fancy giving a woman 32s. a week!" This was uttered in a tone of supreme contempt. The manager remarked that he supposed it would not matter paying the woman the same if she did as much work, but the foreman smiled superior to the idea.

WOMEN AND MACHINERY.—The manager thought that the output of printed matter had increased so enormously since the introduction of machinery that more hands than ever were employed.

The forewoman of the folding and sewing department said that it seemed as if there must be fewer employed, and yet she had never turned any off.

HOME WORK.—No home work is given out by the firm. Since[Pg 149] so much was done by machinery it was not worth while to send work out.

INFLUENCE ON FAMILY INCOME.—The manager and forewoman and foreman said that none of the girls were working for pocket-money. Most lived at home and helped their parents; some who had no parents lived with relatives.

GENERAL.—The premises were rather nice and the people looked superior and friendly. There was a great gulf fixed between the litho girls and the others. The latter look down tremendously on these former and would not think of speaking to them. They are a much lower set to look at and their language is reported not to be choice. Many of them were arrayed in curlers, whilst none of the girls in other departments wore these decorations.

The vellum sewers were said by their forewoman to be "a nice family party."

9. Lithographic Firm. General Information.

GENERAL.—I saw the manager; he was "very much on the spot," friendly and communicative, and took me all over the works and was quite interested in showing different processes. He said he had to look sharp after his workers, and so they often thought him a bully.

WORK.—Chief work done is lithography, but there is also a certain amount of letter-press work. Engraving and stationery orders are given out in sub-contract.

TRAINING.—In the binding room, i.e., where folding is done, there are no learners now, but they need to have one or two. These apprentices were taken on from fourteen years of age without premiums, and were kept two or three years according to ability. They were paid a few shillings to begin with, and, if good at their work, they rose gradually. If slow and stupid, they got nothing. The forewoman said she did not care to take learners now; "they are more trouble than they are worth."

In the litho room the firm never had apprentices. The new hands come in and begin "taking-off" for about 8s. By-and-by, according to their nimbleness, they are elevated to "layers-on."

In card mounting there is no training. It is picked up in a few months, and new hands start at about 8s. per week, time wages.

WAGES.—Binding Room.—The staff (12 girls) are all on time work, the extra hands are paid piece work. Time wages range from 12s. to 14s. I was shown last week's wages, and they ranged from 7s. to 15s., the forewoman having £1 2s. 6d.; 7s. to 8s. was the predominant figure. Job hands on piece "make as much as 15s. in a full week," I was informed, but the wage book that week showed they had only made about 7s. or 8s.

For overtime, time and a quarter is paid to all time workers, ordinary rates to piece workers.

Litho Work.—All wages in this department are time wages, and vary from 8s. to 12s. or 14s. In the wages book the predominant[Pg 150] figure was 7s.; there were two 5s. and some 8s., and up to 12s. When bronzing the workers appeared to get 1s. extra.

Card Mounting.—All time wages paid here, and they were said to range from 8s. to 12s. In the wages book, however, 6s. and 7s. were the predominant figures. Some were as low as 5s., and there were a few girls who had drawn 8s.

NO. EMPLOYED.—There were about 200 employees, of whom one-third were women. The number fluctuated, I was told.

Litho Artists' Work.—8 or 9 men were employed on this, but no women on the premises. The firm often accepted sketches from lady artists living outside, some of whom could even work on stone.

Litho Machine Work.—Girls are employed feeding litho machines, and they have about 30 when busy. When I was there only about 12 were engaged. When bronzing by hand is wanted these girls are set to it (13 were doing it last week). In the same room is

Card Mounting.—There were only 3 girls at that, but sometimes there are as many as 12 or 13. This consists of pasting the advertisement, almanac, etc., on to a piece of cardboard, varnishing it, eyeletting it, tying the bits of cord through (the 3 girls were doing that), and sometimes putting gelatine over the surface—a minor trade, at which they get better paid.

The same girls do occasional work in the cutting room; not at the big guillotines, but (a) at feeding a machine which cuts the strips down or blocks into bent shapes like a small almanac of ——'s mustard which I saw; (b) at putting shapes on to huge piles of sheets of advertisements and labels, which are then pressed into the sheets by a heavy top weight being brought down by steam. They were doing some big "flies," on to which a string was to be put, so that they could be whirled round and buzz.

Binding Room.—There were only about 12 girls employed, but there was room for 100, and they have them in at a press of work. They do folding by hand in this firm for certain newspapers and all sorts of advertisements. Wire stitching is also done. They were folding various things, packing up labels, and so on, when I was there.

REGULARITY.—The firm's trade fluctuates, but by no regular fixed seasons; they are always busy before Christmas.

HEALTH.—I was told that it was quite a mistake to think bronzing unhealthy. The manager stated he had known men at it for months at a time without any evil effects. They sometimes imagined themselves ill, but he had never known of a single case of real illness. They grumble at doing it, and pretend that they are afraid of it because then they get extra money (1s. extra a week). They really object to it because it is bad for clothes—as you get covered with dust—and uncomfortable to be all powdered with gold.

He had a machine below on which most work was done, except when there was a great press. Messrs. —— gave him out so many thousand to do; he could not do them fast enough with only one machine, and it was not worth while having more than one as he had[Pg 151] not work enough ordinarily. No dust escaped from the machine. As a proof of the healthiness of bronzing he said that he stood for three or four hours in the middle of it all, "keeping them to their work" (which they want), and got all covered over with the dust himself. "You wouldn't get a manager doing that himself if it were unhealthy." He always gave his bronzers one pint of milk a day to drink, he stated with pride.

The other work, folding, card mounting, etc., was all quite healthy. Indeed, work was unhealthy more on account of bad ventilation than of any circumstance belonging to itself; he always had the window open and a board put across the bottom, 6 ins. high, on the most approved plan. The workpeople grumbled very much and tried to paste up every crevice with brown paper, but they could not shut it. They objected to the incandescent burners which he put in, for they liked the heat of the gas and missed it.

DANGERS.—Occasionally girls catch their skirts in wheels and so on, but there are never any "bad accidents." "With people of that class it is 'funk' more than pain that they suffer; they will turn as white as anything from just a little flesh wound with a cog-wheel." The Factory Inspectors were very fussy about fencing machinery, he thought. He told me long stories about men's carelessness and how the boys would sit on the edge of the lift. He fined them 2s. 6d. for it.

HOURS.—The hours are about 54 a week, from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner. The women are allowed by the forewomen to have lunch in the middle of the morning and tea in the afternoon, and when the men are industrious the manager has no objection to their taking "snacks." If it is an idler, he objects.

When busy, the work continues till 8 p.m. He had not used special exemption once the last year.

PROSPECTS.—There are no prospects except for the girls in the binding room. The present forewoman ("a jewel") had been with the firm for thirty years; one or two others whom she had trained could take her place.

ORGANISATION.—He had no knowledge of any Women's Unions covering the women employed here. This is a Society house in every branch for the men, but the manager said, "Trades Unionism is all humbug," and he would like to do away with it altogether, if possible; but it is so strong in London that if you want to get good men you must be a Society house.

MARRIED AND UNMARRIED.—He employed 2 or 3 married women amongst litho feeders. The firm ask no questions, but he said he knew most of the workers.

A lot of the job hands were married, but none of the regular hands in binding room.

LEGISLATION.—In manager's opinion legislation had not in any way injured the position of women workers. It did not affect him at all. He never employed men to fold at night, because it would not pay. Occasionally, when the litho machines had to be kept working late, he had to draft in men from other departments to feed them, and he[Pg 152] could understand that a small printer, without different departments, would find it awkward.

He would not himself have the place open at night with girls working in it. He would not take the responsibility of that; they would "lark about, etc." He thought it all to the women's advantage that they must not work at night.

The intentions of the Factory Acts are good, and he approved of them in principle, but there was a lot of humbug about them and the L.C.C. regulations,[95] e.g., making him have six basins for lavatory for his workers. They never used more than two, preferring to follow each other, and they broke the others, and then round came the inspector and said you must have six.

[95] This is allowed to stand as an indication of the frequent misunderstandings our investigators met with regarding the L.C.C. This body appeared to be charged with everything that caused irritation.

The L.C.C. put a premium on burglary by making it compulsory to have a way out on to the roof. The Factory Inspector was not a practical man, and ordered a great deal of unnecessary fencing of machinery. He told me how one night he kept the girls late without giving notice (the work came in unexpectedly), and sat by the telephone so as to send up notice to the forewoman if the inspector came. It was not the Factory Acts which kept women from being compositors.

MEN AND WOMEN.—Women did litho artists' work at home, and there was no reason why they should not be quite as good at it as men. It was paid by the merits of the sketch.

Feeding Litho Machines.—He used to have boys, and a few years ago introduced girls. They were much better at it, cleaner, quieter, and more careful to place the paper exactly than boys.

He still had boys for feeding letter-press machines—why, he did not quite know, except that it was the custom; then, having thought about it, he said further, that it was because less care was needed. Girls were no cheaper than the boys were, and were introduced solely on account of being better workers.

He had no women compositors, and employed only 12 men, and he did not see how he could work the two together, though he did not see why women should not do all the setting-up and the display work, though they could not lift the formes. He did not think the Union objected. It never had been the custom though.

He never had women to work cutting machines. The men would object.

Women never rose to mind the printing litho machines; he did not think they could do it.

He had only one platen machine, worked and fed by a boy; but in some places, where cheap things were done by this machine, e.g., paper bags, girls attended to it.

Men used to do folding in his youth, and they still did stationers' folding, notepaper, etc., in some houses.

HOME WORK.—The firm gave out a certain amount of folding [Pg 153]when there was a press of work. The forewoman knew of old hands and others who could do it at home. He considered that to be quite a convenient arrangement.

INFLUENCE ON FAMILY INCOME.—Many of the job hands were married women, who liked to come out occasionally for a few extra shillings. Others were single girls, who preferred to be paid by the piece, and go about from house to house, making as much as time workers for shorter hours.

10. Paper Colouring and Enamelling Firm in London, also engaged in Showcard Mounting and Varnishing and Book-edge Gilding. Employer's and Manager's Information.

Both were very communicative. The former, after repeated questions from me as to how things were done, took me over the whole place, intending only to show me the varnishing, and finally letting me see everything. He is a working-class master who has risen. His father had a small business, and he has made it a big one. It is one of the biggest firms in the trade.

TRAINING.—Card Mounting.—The firm indentures apprentices, who agree to stay three or four years. They are taken on at fourteen years of age, and are paid 4s. a week for the first year, and then receive a portion of their piece work earnings, varying according to efficiency, from one-fourth, one-half, three-fourths, two-thirds, and so on, according to skill. They come for a month first to see if they suit.

Paper Colouring and Enamelling.—In this department apprentices are also indentured for two years. They are taken on at fourteen, and are paid 4s. a week first year, then a portion of their piece earnings as above.

Varnishing and Sizing.—No training is given for this. Girls must be tall, or they are no use. Any girl will be "good at it" after three weeks.

The employer remarked that parents could not afford to pay a premium. It was very provoking when girls went off after four years, when a lot of trouble had been spent in teaching them. I was shown some cards which a girl, who was supposed to be competent, had spoilt by pasting the sheet on so that there was a blister; 385 out of 500 were similarly spoilt, and they cost 6d. each, he said.

WAGES.—Card Mounting and Paper Colouring.—Piece work rates are paid here, with overtime at the same rate. It is difficult to give an average. One girl would make 25s., while another girl would only make 7s. at the same work in the same time. After consideration, the head gave it as his opinion that 12s. 6d. a week would be what the ordinary girl would earn, taking the whole year round, slack with busy times. They were kept on all the year at this firm. Sometimes a girl would make as much as 28s.

It was further stated that a girl might make 6d. in less than an hour at night, when the colours were mixed and she was finishing a[Pg 154] job, whereas it might take her a whole morning to earn the 6d. next day.

A quick girl could do 1,000 eyelets in an hour, eyeletting being paid at 10d. per 1,000.

Varnishing and Sizing.—Piece work wages are paid here, with overtime at same rates. Wages are reckoned by the lump sum for the gross work done, and divided equally amongst all the hands. The division is made by the firm, not the workers. We asked one girl what she took last week, and she said 14s.; but my guide said that the average would not be so high for the year, say 12s.

WORK.—There are four separate departments or businesses here, in three of which the work is done by women.

Varnishing and Sizing, where 16 girls are employed. The calendars, advertisements, and so on, to be varnished are placed in a pile on a table underneath the long webbing band, and a girl sits there and feeds. They are caught up and passed round rollers, and are sized or varnished as the case may be. Another girl stands facing the machine, seeing that they pass round all right. They are then carried over the top of the top roller along the webbing band, which stretches the full length of the room, till they come to the drum at the end, round which the band passes on its return journey. There girls take them off and place them in racks, the bottom one of which is on a small trolley. When a big pile of racks (about 5½ ft. high) is filled the girls wheel it off, lift up a door, and push it into a big cupboard which takes up all the middle of the room, and above which is a fan. There they are left to dry, and when dry the girls wheel them out again and take out the sheets.

There were two rooms in which this was being done, with about 8 girls in each. There was also a third room at the side, where they make up odds and ends, e.g., make up packets of "Happy Families," fold odd papers, eyelet a few things, and so on. There was only 1 girl in this; sometimes there are several. When a girl comes in first she does this work.

Card Mounting.—About 30 or 40 girls were employed at this. This consists in putting the advertisements, calendars, and so on, on to the big sheets of cardboard and finishing them off. There are various different processes. The board has to be cut, and this is done either by a man or a girl who feeds the rotary cutting machine. The sheet of card is "lined," i.e., the back pasted on, and edges pasted over if required. Then the picture (or calendar) that is to go on it is pasted down, the girls covering the backs of about four pictures (or calendars), and then pressing them down one after another. For some work eyelets are then punched, and in the best work the edges are bevelled by a little machine consisting of a wheel in a trough, along which the edge is pushed. In the case of a good deal of School Board work there is a narrow band of tin or brass at the top which finishes it off, and out of which comes a brass loop by which to hang it up. The men cut the brass into slips, and the girls work about five hand machines, the principle of which is that you put in your map (e.g.), put the tin or brass slip of metal in the[Pg 155] right position, pull down a handle, lift it up, and the work comes out with the metal band pressed down on each side and the loop fixed in the middle. For other work, such as big maps, charts, diagrams, and so on, wooden rods are used as rollers, etc., and the work of fastening is done by girls.

Paper Colouring and Enamelling by Hand.—Only 12 women were engaged upon this work—a considerable decrease. The sheet of paper to be coloured is placed in front of the girl, who then wets it over with the colour (black when I saw it) by means of a brush like a whitewash brush (the manager said that they were whitewash brushes with the handles taken off), which she dips into a bowl. She then takes another round brush, about 10 ins. in diameter, and brushes over the whole surface, so that the colour lies quite evenly. The sheet of paper is then hung, as it were, on to a clothes line to dry. These lines stretch over the room.

Enamelling is done in identically the same way, only it is enamel, not colour, which is put on.

Enamelled paper is the very shiny coloured paper used for end pages of books, for covering confectionery and similar boxes, etc.

Marbling is never done by this firm. All the coloured paper is in plain colours, marbling being a quite different process.

Book-edge Gilding.—Only men are employed in this.

REGULARITY.—The card mounting department is specially busy before Christmas with calendars, almanacs, etc., but advertisement cards are turned out all the year.

Paper colouring comes in rushes, but is not a seasonal trade.

Varnishing is sometimes busier at one time than at another, but it is not seasonal. The work of this firm is such that no job hands are employed.

HEALTH.—Paper Colouring and Enamelling.—Mr. —— called down one woman who had worked there fourteen years, and her mother before her. She looked very strong and healthy. The other girls were not so robust looking as she, but did not look ill. One was sitting in one of the colouring rooms during the dinner hour, her hands all coated over with paint, eating bread and butter. Mr. —— rebuked her and told her that she ought to wash her hands, and that he was always telling her to do so, but she did not obey, and went on eating stolidly.

The colouring girls were all splashed over, and so were the walls. The rooms were close and dirty. Work was done standing.

Card Mounting.—The rooms were close and dirty, and the work seemed tiring.

Varnishing and Sizing.—The smell and heat were enough to knock one down when one first went in, though one ceased to notice it after a bit. There are hot pipes connected with the machine to dry the papers. The place looked very dirty, and my guide showed me how the dust all stuck to any varnish about, so that the racks, if left out for a day, got covered with flue. The girls did not look strikingly unhealthy. They have to drag heavy loads about. One or two looked a bit pale.

[Pg 156]

QUALIFICATIONS.—I should judge that strength was required for all three departments, as girls are standing all day. Only tall girls are taken in the varnishing room; short ones would be no good for moving about the racks. The head said that no great intelligence was wanted for any department, but a good deal of "perseverance" for card mounting and paper colouring. If girls are careless at card mounting they spoil the whole thing.

DANGERS.—The only machinery was the varnishing machine, and the firm had never had any accident with it, and there seemed no reason why there should be any. If girls are careless they are dismissed. The employer considered the Compensation Act to be very unfair: "If a girl slips on your iron staircase because her shoelace was undone, you have to pay her."

HOURS.—The hours worked are from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea; on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. On a board a notice was put up stating that work begins as follows: 9 a.m. for women, 8 a.m. for boys, 7 a.m. for men.

PROSPECTS.—There is 1 girl in the varnishing department who gets "a trifle more than the others," owing to her skill. In card mounting there are no prospects. A foreman manages the paper colouring department, so that there is no chance of the women becoming forewomen. The firm once tried a forewoman, but she was not a success. She could not match the colours properly, etc. Mr. —— and the robust worker seemed to think such a thing beyond a woman's power (especially the latter, who scorned the idea of a forewoman).

ORGANISATION.—The head did not know if there was a Union or not. "They do not give us any trouble."

MARRIED AND UNMARRIED.—Only 1 or 2 married women were employed by the firm, and they were confined to the colouring department. One married woman had been there fourteen years.

LEGISLATION.—My informant did not consider that legislation had injured the woman worker at all, but had benefited her by lessening her hours of labour. Legislation was very hard on him, however, especially in the paper colouring and varnishing work. "A customer comes in with some work at 1 o'clock on a Saturday. You say you cannot do it till Monday. 'Well,' he says, 'I shall get it done elsewhere.' People working at home are found to do it, and as they have not got the machinery or appliances it means that they work at it all Sunday, and make their little children of nine or ten work too, whereas the grown women may not work an hour longer in factories." Mr. —— evidently feels bitterly about this. It would not pay to keep men on this kind of work. He would like more than thirty days a year exemption for overtime. Besides, the girls would often like to make a few shillings extra overtime. This was corroborated by the paper-staining girl.

MEN AND WOMEN.—In the head's youth men used to do all the card mounting; women were introduced for it about twenty-eight years ago. They were brought in because the men drank so and kept away from work. Men used to do paper colouring and[Pg 157] varnishing, too, and were replaced by women for the same reason. The Unions gave no trouble about this.

No women were employed in book-edge gilding by this firm. Mr. —— and an old man employee said that some people got their wives to help lay-on the gold and so on, but it did not come to much.

MACHINERY.—Paper colouring and enamelling machinery has diminished women's work considerably. The head used to have 45 women at it—two whole floors—and now only has 11. It is done by machinery elsewhere. A certain amount is still done by hand, and must always be, as it is not worth while putting anything under five reams on a machine.

Varnishing.—The head invented the present machines because the women kept away so. There used to be many more women in the trade.

Card Mounting.—No machines are employed for this. Girls can feed the rotary cutting machine, but it is generally done by a man.

HOME WORK.—No work is sent out from here. A good deal of paper colouring and of varnishing is done by people in their own homes (see under "Legislation").

FAMILY INCOME.—Very little information on this subject could be had here. One girl in the varnishing room was pointed out to me, dressed in black, whose father had recently died. She was the eldest of eleven, and was "keen on picking up an extra shilling or two."

GENERAL.—The whole place was dirty, and there was hardly a vacant inch to squeeze past in. Mr. ——, however, did not seem a bad sort of man; the girls did not seem in the least in awe of him. All the girls looked of the regular factory girl type, sloppy and dirty, and with their hair in curlers or curl papers.

Mrs. ——, the paper stainer, who came down to talk to me, seemed a friendly, rough-and-ready, low-class woman. Her mother worked in the trade, and when she herself was a baby her cradle was rocked on the colouring board, and "many is the night" that she sat up all night as a child helping her mother at home. She seemed to have thriven on it, and to be immensely proud of her industrial career.

11. Bookbinding Firm, West End, London. Employée's Evidence.

WORK.—Trade in the West End is quite different to that in City firms. This employée picked to pieces and sewed.

REGULARITY.—Hers was not a seasonal trade. She was busy all the year round, but in January and July there was a special press, owing to the number of magazine volumes then being bound.

HOURS.—She worked 48 per week, the length of the ordinary day being from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

PROSPECTS.—She had never known anyone who rose to be a forewoman, but supposed some did rise. Girls from West End shops could not be City forewomen because they knew nothing about machines, and in all advertisements for forewomen knowledge of sewing machines was put as a necessary qualification.

[Pg 158]

GENERAL.—I asked why their hours were so much shorter than dressmakers, and have come to the conclusion that it was because the men had got an eight-hours' day. She said this class of workers in City shops is lower than in these West End places, and yet in the City workplaces the best industrial training is given.

12. Bookbinding Firm in London. Employée's Evidence.

WORK.—Works at a large place about five minutes' walk away (not the same place where she learned). There are four rooms of women. N. M. works in a room on the third floor, where there are 80 women under two forewomen, sisters. In this room folding, stitching, gathering and sewing (hand) is done.

In the fourth room there are 12 girls doing machine sewing.

The two lower floor rooms each have about 10 or 12 girls. In one of them laying-on of gold is done.

She herself does stitching, folding and gathering, hardly ever sewing.

REGULARITY.—Orders are very slack sometimes, especially just now (August). There had been a great deal of sitting idle, and they had only been making 6s. or 7s. per week. They did not like to go "out to grass" for fear of losing work if it should chance to come in. It was difficult to get off for a holiday. Sometimes they were told at 1 p.m. that they could go home.

HEALTH.—Gold laying-on was unhealthy. The dust got on the chest. Folding and Sewing were very tiring, because "you are sitting in one position all day." Gathering is the most pleasant, because you walk about and get a little exercise that way.

PROSPECTS.—There is not much chance of rising. The forewoman and under-forewoman are sisters, and stay on and on. If one of them were to give up, her successor would be taken from the time workers. The piece workers might rise to be time workers, if they cared.

13. Bookbinding Firm in London. Employée's Evidence.

WORK.—This informant was engaged at gold laying-on exclusively, but was originally a folder and sewer.

REGULARITY.—In this firm it is a seasonal trade, and slack sometimes as well. She left M. because of slackness.

HEALTH.—It is not very healthy. Layers-on cannot have the windows open because of the draught blowing the gold about, also the gas used for "blocking" overheats the rooms. Girls sometimes faint three or four times a day, and get anæmic. After working overtime at ——'s would often stagger in the streets. "You have to drink a lot of tea to keep you up."

HOURS.—48 a week is about the normal working time, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea, as at M., and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays; or else from 8.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., as at N., with one hour for dinner, and 8.30 a.m. to 12 noon on[Pg 159] Saturdays. She preferred 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., because then she got a tea half-hour. "One got so faint going on till 6.30 p.m. from 2 p.m."

At O. there was a great deal of overtime; not at M.

PROSPECTS.—She could have been a sort of forewoman at sixteen over 6 other girls at P., but an older hand persuaded her not to; and being ignorant of the ways of the world she agreed not to, and then the older hand became forewoman herself! That was her only chance of promotion.

14. J., Bookbinding Firm in London. Employée's Evidence and Visit to Works.

Work.—Folding, numbering, perforating, sewing. The regular staff do all, but the firm take in job hands for folding only, when busy.

REGULARITY.—The regular hands are kept on all the year round.

HOURS.—The hours worked average 54 a week, from 8.30 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. My informant said they were "obliged by the Factory Act[96] to have half an hour for lunch from 11 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., but they did not take more than a quarter of an hour, or else they ate whilst working;" dinner from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., and tea from 5 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. On Saturdays the hours are 8.30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with 11 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. for lunch.

[96] This, of course, is incorrect.

PROSPECTS.—The girls may rise to forewomen. One who had just risen quickly to that position was going off to be married.

GENERAL.—They can cook food on the premises at this firm.

15. B., Stationery Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—About 150 to 200 women are employed.

(1) Hand folding and cementing of envelopes (includes putting band round packet).

(2) Machine folding and cementing of envelopes (includes putting band round packet).

(3) Black bordering.

(4) Stamping, plain and relief.

(5) Printing of addresses for circulars, etc. (small machines).

(6) Packing twelve packets in long packets and sample packing.

(7) Vellum sewing (folding, sewing, and looking over).

(8) Perforating (in same room).

(9) Machine ruling.

The number of women at each process in the part of factory seen were as follows:—

(1) About 27, (2) 30, (3) 1, (4) 4 stamping, (5) about 8, (6) 3 and 1 sample packer (probably many more), (7) 4 sewing, 1 looking over, 2 hanging about, (8) 1, (9) 4.

There are 42 other workers who are all older hands.

The girls employed in (1) are a superior grade to those in (2)[Pg 160] and will not mix at all. Wages about the same. (3), (4), (5), (6), (7) and (8) are more or less same grade as (1); (9) are lower than (2).

REGULARITY.—The work here is steady all the year round.

HEALTH.—All the girls are healthy, and the work is quite healthy.

HOURS.—They work 51 hours per week.

PROSPECTS.—Envelope hand folders can rise to be cementers or forewomen (envelope hand folders being themselves a superior class to machine folders or machine rulers); packers can rise to be sample packers.

16. R., Stationery Firm (Christmas Cards, etc.) in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—There are three departments:—

(1) Relief Stamping, with 20 regular hands. These girls work the presses, which are of the newest kind, and some of which are very heavy. They do monograms and all sorts of designs on menus, wedding cards, Christmas cards, ball cards, etc., and stamp in gold, silver, or colours.

(2) Hand Painting, with 21 regular hands. This means filling in stamped-out or printed designs of various kinds of cards with colour, e.g., figures of soldiers, flowers, and so on.

(3) Packing Department, with about 12 regular hands. They do up the cards in packets, fold and gum special wedding envelopes, paste pictures on to cards, tie the little ribbon bows on cards, and do all the many little processes required for finishing this kind of work.

REGULARITY.—The work of this firm is very seasonal. The busy time is for about three months before Christmas, but they are specially rushed for the six weeks before Christmas. The regular hands are kept on all the year round, but about 25 or 30 extra are employed for the packing room for six weeks before Christmas. In the other departments they get a few married hands just to come in and help. They are now (July) preparing books of Christmas cards, but the orders for private Christmas cards do not come in till November and December.

The girls who work in the packing room pack scents, etc., at other times of the year.

HEALTH.—The work is quite healthy and the girls all appeared to be healthy. The premises were light and airy. Two of the relief stamping presses looked very heavy indeed, and the forewoman said that they were really men's work. The girls working them always had the same machines, and did not look ill, though they said that it was very tiring.

Machinery.—Machinery has not displaced women in this firm.

HOURS.—For stamping and packing the hours are from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. with three-quarters of an hour for dinner and a quarter of an hour for tea; on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with half an hour for lunch. For painting they are from 9 a.m. to 5.45 p.m., with the same meal hour; on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The hours of painters had been shortened about a year ago, and it[Pg 161] was found that they did just as much work. For the six weeks before Christmas they regularly work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with as much overtime as is allowed, i.e., three nights a week.

PROSPECTS.—They may rise to forewomen; e.g., the forewoman over the stampers came as an ordinary hand.

GENERAL.—There is a dining room, and every girl can pay 3s. a week and get dinner of meat and pudding and tea every day. This covers all expenses, wages of cook, gas for stove, all utensils, etc. Last year there was money over, so they had free meals for a week.

17. G., Large Stationery Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—About 60 girls are employed. Stationery and Printing with following divisions:—(1) Plain cameo and relief stamping (about 25 girls), (2) illuminating, i.e., putting on the colour by hand (2 girls), (3) envelope folding and cementing (9 girls), (4) packing, including cleaning (girls in each department), (5) folding notepaper (saw 3 little girls doing this), (6) feeding printing machines, big and small, and lithographic machines (about 6 girls), (7) various odd jobs, e.g., cutting visiting cards to proper size, (8) feeding ruling machine (1 girl).

REGULARITY.—This firm's trade is regular. They are busy all the year round, though perhaps they are busiest at Christmas. The bulk of their orders come from the country though.

HEALTH.—The little printing and lithographic girls looked anything but healthy.

MACHINERY.—Machines have not displaced women. There was nothing dangerous about the machinery used, though the small printing machine which 1 girl was feeding might be dangerous.

HOURS.—The hours worked are from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea; on Saturdays, from 8.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. They work overtime at Christmas.

PROSPECTS.—Girls in (4) may rise to (1), and those in (1) to (2).

18. K., Stationery Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—Numbering and Perforating; girls also dust and clean up after blocking.

REGULARITY.—The work in this firm is regular, "as they work for the trade."

SKILL.—Intelligence is required for numbering, or else valuable material is spoilt, e.g., the other day a girl, who was six months out of her time, never changed when she came to the 1,000 and so spoilt the work, as one figure came out darker. Three numbers are harder to do than two or four. The firm had tried to take two girls from the blocking work and teach them numbering, but it was no good, they were not intelligent enough.

HOURS.—The hours worked are from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner, ten minutes for lunch, and ten minutes for tea; on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

PROSPECTS.—The girls can rise to be forewomen.

[Pg 162]

19. I., Stationery and Stamping Firm in London. Employee's Evidence.

WORK.—Stamping, plain and relief, including tradesmen's cards, notepaper, Christmas cards, etc.

REGULARITY.—The work here is regular, because they work for the trade.

SKILL.—The girls need arm strength. Artistic taste is also required. Some never make good stampers on account of deficiency in taste.

MACHINERY.—Machinery has not displaced women.

HOURS.—The hours worked are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one hour for dinner, and half an hour for tea; on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

PROSPECTS.—Girls may rise to forewomen. "There is a little girl of fifteen now, who has only been here a year, and the other day Mr. I. (who does not say things when he does not mean them) told her that she would rise to be forewoman one day. She is very good at her work and knows how things should look."

GENERAL.—The girls are very comfortable here. They have a room to themselves upstairs, and a dining room and a stove to cook on.

20. F., Stationery Firm in London. Employee's Evidence.

WORK.—(1) Envelope folding, which includes creasing, gumming, and shuffling.

(2) Envelope cementing.

(3) Plain stamping.

(4) Relief stamping.

(5) Looking over and packing.

REGULARITY.—Slack times vary in different houses. "You never can tell," but summer, as a rule, is slack. Last summer there was very little work all July and August at C. and D. and F. She made only 8d. or 9d. a day sometimes.

HOURS.—At C. and D. the hours worked are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one and a-half hours for meals; at E., from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with one and a-half hours for meals on Monday and Tuesday; from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one and a-half hours for meals on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

MACHINERY.—Machinery has not taken work from women.

GENERAL.—She remarked that G. was "a dreadful place." The girls cried because there was no work.

21. X., Stamping Firm in London. Employee's Evidence.

WORK.—There are about 100 girls in the stamping room, about 30 of whom pack up the work in boxes, etc. In some places the stampers have to pack their own work. There is also envelope work, etc., done on the firm, but my informant knew nothing of this. Some girls did the hand illuminating, i.e., colouring part of a design that has been stamped.

[Pg 163]

REGULARITY.—The trade is seasonal, and is slack in the summer and busy in winter.

SKILL.—"You have to be strong to stand the stamping," she said. She herself had to give it up after she had been a learner for two years, and take to packing. Her health gave way; she got very anæmic, and could not stand the strain. Most of the packers were girls who could not stand stamping. They had one very heavy press with big dies, and tried a girl on it, but she got injured internally, so a man was put on it. At R. she heard they had heavy presses. She said she knew of two girls who went there, and both injured themselves. She thinks they had to go to the hospital. The best paying work was done on the big presses. However, many girls stood the stamping all right. Strength is absolutely necessary.

HOURS.—The hours worked are from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one and a-half hours off for meals; on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. When busy they work regularly from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and three nights a week to 9.30 p.m.

22 and 23. U. and V., Two Stamping Firms in London. Employee's Evidence.

WORK.—My informant did plain stamping, but never learnt relief work. She once tried it, but did not get on with it. At U. there were only 5 stampers, at V. quite 30.

REGULARITY.—At U. work came in rushes, and they were always either very busy or else very slack; at V. work was steady all the year.

HEALTH.—My informant herself had grown rather crooked, and had to leave off work. She did not know of any other girls similarly affected though, nor did she consider it unhealthy. A good many were anæmic. She thought that now she has had a rest she might be able to stand it better. The big dies were the bad ones, and were tiring.

HOURS.—At U. the hours were from 9.15 a.m. to 7 p.m., with one hour for dinner and half an hour for tea; at V. from 9.15 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., but at V. one could work till 7 or 7.30 p.m., if one cared. At U. they were then working till 8 p.m. (December). She had never worked later than 9, and that very rarely.

PROSPECTS.—She thought that the chance of rising to forewoman was exceedingly remote.

GENERAL.—Both U. and V. were very nice and respectable shops, and particular about whom they took on. At U. there was a dining room, and things more comfortable than at V.

24. Y., Machine Ruling Firm in London. Visit to Works.

WORK.—There are two departments. (1) Top floor: Machine ruling. (2) Ground floor: Perforating, numbering, and paging.

(1) The following is the general principle of the ruling machine:

There is a band about 1 yd. wide which goes round and round[Pg 164] in a large ellipse (one flat side of the ellipse is about 3½ yds. long). Upon this band the sheets of paper are placed by the girls, and by it they are drawn under a row of pens set at the required intervals for the lines. They are then carried up and round by the revolutions of the band—being held in their places by string which revolves with the band—and fall out of the machine with the ink dry.

A good many machines are fitted with a second row of pens which rules the underneath side of the paper as well as the upper.

The pens are fed by a piece of flannel which is kept soaked by a regular flow of ink from a vessel fitted with a small tap.

These machines are worked by power. They used to be worked by hand.

(2) Perforating is done by a machine worked by a treadle. A good many foreign and colonial postage stamps are done here.

Numbering of loose pages, cheques, receipts, etc., is done by a machine with a handle which has to be pulled down by hand.

Paging, which is for made-up books, is done by a machine worked by a treadle.

REGULARITY.—The summer is a slack season in this trade as a rule. The firm are especially slack just now (August) as there are no orders from South Africa.

HEALTH.—The upper floor was exceedingly, almost insupportably, stuffy. The ground floor was fairly airy. The under-forewoman said that working the treadle for paging was very hard work. "It always upset her inside," so she had to give it up.

SKILL.—Strength is required for paging.

DANGER.—They had just had an accident with the perforating machine. The bands upstairs were dangerous to long hair. One girl had her hair caught and was carried right up to the ceiling. The band was loose and slipped off the wheel, so she was let down again with no great injury.

PROSPECTS.—The girls may rise to forewoman; the machine rulers may rise to wet the flannels.

25. Paper Bag Making in London. Employee's Evidence.

WORK.—(1) Cake bags, (2) tea bags, (3) sugar bags. These are different classes of work and some hands can do only one class.

The girls do their own cutting except for the very heavy work, which men do. As a rule, the piece-rate girls make the bag right through from the sheet, i.e., cut the paper, lay it out and paste. Tea bags are made on a tin. There were 150 girls working in the room.

REGULARITY.—The work is irregular, but if a girl can do all kinds it is better for her. "There is always some work, but sometimes you may sit idle doing needlework most of the day."

HEALTH.—"It is very bad for you standing all day long," said my informant. "Girls come in looking lively and healthy, but they soon get run down." The standing and the used-up air are bad, the[Pg 165] latter especially in the winter-time when the gas is alight. She herself has lost her health.

MACHINERY.—Machinery had not displaced women.

HOURS.—The hours are from 8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., with one hour for dinner, ten minutes for lunch, and twenty minutes for tea; on Saturdays, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The girls have to be in by 8.15 or they are locked out for the morning.

When at overtime they work from 8 a.m. to 9.30 p.m.

PROSPECTS.—The forewoman was at the bench once.

GENERAL.—"On the floor below," said my informant, "are litho girls—not the sort whom you could speak to. That is a very bad trade."

26. Printer's and Bookbinder's Firm in Leeds. Employer's Information.

I was shown over the factory. The rooms are all very large and lofty. Electric instead of steam power is used, and so the factory is far less noisy and cooler than most printing works.

One hundred and twenty girls of a very superior class are employed.

The conditions under which work is carried on here are evidently very good.

They print large advertisement posters, time-tables, magazines, novels, and make account books, cheque books, etc.

TRAINING.—Girls begin by feeding ruling machines, packing, etc., and the length of their "apprenticeship" depends entirely upon the girls themselves. They are put on piece work as soon as they are fit for it; they are taken on about fourteen without premium, and their wages begin at 4s. 6d. or, sometimes, 5s., and rise by degrees till they are paid piece work rates.

WAGES.—Folding and Sewing (piece work).—The pay ranges about 10s., 12s., 16s., up to 25s. per week.

Laying-on of Gold-leaf and Blockers (piece work) yields 18s. to 20s. per week.

Girls who put paper covers on to cheap novels, etc., earn about 20s.

Layers-on (Letter-press and Litho) are paid time wages and receive 8s., 10s., and 12s. per week.

The employer says he has known three sisters take home £4 a week for several months in succession. He thinks it pays well to give high wages.

HOURS.—The hours are 52½ per week: from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with dinner from 12.30 p.m. to 1.30 p.m.; on Saturdays, 7.30 a.m. till 12.30 p.m.; but overtime is worked thirty days in the year. Piece workers receive no extra pay; time workers get time and a quarter.

WORK.—Folding is done chiefly by hand. There is one machine, but that is self-feeding and a man minds it.

Sewing is done by hand and by machinery.

Perforating is done by a machine worked by power, which has simply to be fed.

Several girls were employed putting the wrappers on to 6d. novels,[Pg 166] while others were pasting cloth on to cardboard for school exercise books. Little girls were feeding the ruling machine, punching labels, eyeletting and packing.

Girls were also engaged in gold laying-on and blocking, but none were employed at this when I was there.

In the litho and letter-press printing rooms a large number of very respectable girls, about eighteen years of age, were employed as layers-on. They were feeding large as well as small machines.

REGULARITY.—The girls are employed all the year round, but they are busier in the autumn and winter (from September to May). They are also very busy the last week in each month. Occasionally, in June and July, they only work half-time, but this does not happen often.

HEALTH.—The work is very healthy. Before they had electric power the employer had seen girls fall down and faint when "laying-on" at night when the gas was lit and the room hot. Now that they have electric power and electric light such a thing never happens.

DANGER.—The use of electric power does away with the need of belting shafts, etc. There is simply a small motor on the ground.

ORGANISATION.—There is no organisation amongst the women, though the men are all Unionists.

MARRIED AND UNMARRIED.—Girls all leave when they get married. Occasionally, when they are busy, an old hand who has got married comes back, but 99 per cent. are unmarried. The employer did not know whether they had any married women there then.

FACTORY LEGISLATION.—Factory legislation has in no way limited the usefulness of women. Girls do not mind working overtime when they can make a little extra by it, but the employer said "overtime does not pay anybody." E.g., when layers-on worked overtime they were paid time and a quarter, and it did not pay to give that extra money. The restriction of overtime to thirty days a year worked out very inconveniently for the masters, but this employer thought the factory legislation was a very good thing on the whole.

One direct result of factory legislation here has been the introduction of a self-feeding folding machine worked by electric power, which they use when they are busy instead of getting in extra hands or working overtime. When not busy this machine stands idle, and the folding is done by hand. Another result of factory legislation is that they have to employ more hands than they otherwise would, and so girls sometimes have to work short time.

MEN AND WOMEN.—The employer said there was a clearly drawn line between men's work and women's work. The Union made a great point of keeping women out of what they consider to be men's work, and there would be a "row" amongst them if women were put on, but I found out later on that girls do the laying-on and gold blocking for the backs of books, etc. The employer said he put them on to that about three years ago. At first the men made a fuss about it, but it passed over. His reason for putting girls on was that it was light work quite suitable for a girl. Only skilled girls did it. They would get perhaps 12s. 6d., time wage, while they were learning, and then go on to piece work and earn 18s. or 20s. a week. A man's[Pg 167] wage for the same work would be a minimum of 32s. a week (time), as that is the Trade Union minimum, and the Trade Unionists generally get something above the minimum.

This firm was the first in Leeds to introduce girls as layers-on for letter-press and litho machines. That was about twenty years ago. The reason was that it was impossible to apprentice the number of boys required. The Trade Union regulation about the proportion of apprentices to journeymen is very strictly enforced, and it was not fair to employ boys and simply turn them off when they got older; so girls were employed, and now the majority of layers-on are girls. They do the work, on the whole, better than boys, and they are steadier.

MACHINERY.—Machinery is continually being introduced and more women are being employed in spite of the fact that the machines do work so much more quickly. Production is made cheaper and so the demand is greater.

HOME WORK.—No home work is given out.

Relief Stamping Firms. General Summary.

We have information about twenty-one houses where women are employed at stamping (covering over 300 women).

TRAINING.—Out of these nine have a regular system of training, four do not take apprentices, having found them more trouble than they were worth; three have no settled system, while three refused to furnish information on the subject. In four cases indentures were signed, and there were two cases of premiums, in one of which £2 was paid, to be returned with 5 per cent. interest after three years; in the other, £10—with variations. "It varies with the girl," we were told. "Sometimes girls with very respectable parents like to pay a premium, in other cases it is waived." In eight out of the nine houses where there is a regular system of training, the girls serve an apprenticeship varying from two to three years. They begin by a few shillings pocket-money and go on to receive a part of what they make at piece work rates. In one house they gave from two weeks to two months for nothing, during which time their earnings went to the forewoman who taught them.

The following are some of the systems of payment during training:—

(1) 1st year (employed in warehouse), 3s.; 2nd year, half earnings, piece, with 4s. per month pocket-money; 3rd year, three-quarter earnings, with 4s. per month pocket-money.

(2) 1st year, 5s.; 2nd year, 6s. 6d.; 3rd year, 8s.

(3) 2s. 6d. for first 6 months; rising 1s. every 3 months, till 8s. 6d. is reached.

(4) Start at 2s. 6d.; rise to 10s. during training.

(5) 1st year, half earnings; 2nd year, three-quarter earnings.

(6) 3s. or 4s. first 6 months; 5s. second 6 months; then 6s. for 2nd year.

(7) Pay £2 premium. Put on piece work almost at once and[Pg 168] receive what they make. Premiums returned with 5 per cent. interest after 3 years.

(8) 3 months, nothing; 3 months, 2s. per week; next 3 months, 3s.; next, 4s.; so on till 8s.

One forewoman considered that three years' training was much too long, and stated that there was a tendency in certain houses to do work cheap by means of apprentices. She said that the girls in such houses get disheartened and sick of work, and when they were out of their time it was no use staying on, for all the work got given to the learners. Some learners are quite quick by the end of three weeks. We often found that when a girl came in to learn stamping she was set to run about the warehouse or to do gumming for the first year. This, it was urged by one employer, was done purely from humane motives. Since the girls were often delicate when they came in, it was far better for them to do odd jobs for a year than to be stuck down at once at some sedentary occupation.

Learners are taken at thirteen or fourteen years of age. Sometimes they are left to "pick things up." Sometimes they are taught by a forewoman or experienced hand. The relief stamper belongs to the upper class of factory girl.

REGULARITY.—Trade is tolerably steady. A few weeks in summer are generally slack, and where there is Christmas card work the six weeks before Christmas are extremely busy.

HEALTH.—We were told almost unanimously that stamping was healthy work, and undoubtedly, where the presses are light, it is so. Some of the presses, however, are very heavy, and the girls who work them acknowledged that the work was extremely tiring. Most houses have men to work their heaviest presses. We heard of three cases in two different houses of internal strain to girls working at these presses, and we heard of one house where the girls in the packing room were recruited from those who could not stand the stamping.

SKILL.—Skill is required for illuminating.

PROSPECTS.—In some cases it is possible to rise to forewoman, or from plain to relief and cameo stamping and occasionally illuminating.

WAGES.—Wages vary from 13s. to 25s. or 30s., mostly piece work. Some of the piece work rates were 9d. per 1,000 impressions, 2d. per 1,000 plain (2,000 can be done per hour); 10d. per ream one die (takes two hours to do one ream), 1s. 8d. per 1,000 impressions.

MARRIED AND UNMARRIED.—Very few relief stampers are married. In some houses married women are not allowed, in some they "come back to oblige" at busy times. In one house only we heard "that many stampers marry, though they might as well not, as they come back to work."

DISPLACEMENT.—Men used to do relief stamping, but women, owing to the cheapness of their labour, have superseded them in all but the heaviest work. For the heavy presses men are still employed, "but it is a poor trade for them."

In some houses they do illuminating, as for this the women are[Pg 169] found not to possess sufficient skill and patience. One large house employs 4 men for a superior sort of relief stamping—gold and silver on a coloured surface. The crest or monogram has to be stamped in plain first, then coloured, then stamped with the gold or silver by the men. This last process requires great skill and accuracy and care, for if it is crooked by a hair's breadth the thing is spoilt. Girls are stated not to be accurate and careful enough for this work, although they are employed for the simpler sort of gold stamping.

Where heavy hand machines have come in they have ousted women. One employer considered that if stamping machines worked by steam came in women would be employed on them. In one house, however, where there was machine stamping, it was done by men. We were told by a large employer that there is now a new machine in the market which may supersede female labour. It colours the surface first and then embosses it out. Another new machine requires a feeder only, as the die is coloured, rubbed and stamped down by machinery.

Job Hands. Interview with Agent.

Miss R., like Mrs. B. before her, apparently acts as a sort of bureau-keeper for job hands; sometimes she has work in to do herself and keeps a certain staff, at other times she gets a notice to say that W. has got a big job and wants so many hands; she collects them, sends postcards all round, and goes and works herself too. Very few of her job hands would touch magazine work; they usually work at prospectuses. Mrs. B. used to do all the work for the —— Societies. There were hundreds of job hands, how many she cannot tell at all.

REGULARITY.—The work is quite uncertain. "You never know when there will be work; but July and August are usually the slack months, but this year (1900-01) it has been slack all the year. Job hands, however, do what they like when there is not work, whereas constant hands have to come in and wait whether there is work or not."

HEALTH.—It is hard work, but there is nothing unhealthy about it.

GENERAL.—She spoke with pitying contempt of the "constant" hands and their low prices and the long hours they worked.

[Pg 170]


(A.) Letterpress Printing. Machine Feeding and Flying.

Girls are employed to "feed" the machines and to "take off" the impressed sheet. A girl will learn "taking off," or "flying," in a couple of days; but except in the old-fashioned and smaller jobbing-shops flying is now done entirely by machinery. Machine feeding is not so easy and simple a process as it seems. The girls stand and perform the same movement repeatedly, each time giving to the sheet the precise swing required to send it accurately into the grips. The work requires little intelligence, and the extent to which it can be characterised as exhausting depends partly on the speed of the machine, but chiefly on the length of the "run." Three methods of treating the girls may be distinguished. In some shops where there are very long runs, perhaps extending to a couple of weeks, as in the case of the printing of low-priced Bibles, the work is tiring. At the close of a long run the machines have to be prepared afresh, and the girls enjoy a spell for a day or two. This leisure they are sometimes inclined to abuse by interrupting the work of others with conversation, and consequently attempts are being made to employ them on other machines during the interval. This innovation the girls are resisting. In other shops the fatiguing nature of a long run is mitigated by removing the girl to another machine with a different movement, but the "right" of a girl to be so moved about and rested is not recognised; it is simply a matter for the consideration of the foreman. To allow the claim to frequent shifting might prove inconvenient in times of pressure. Lastly, in establishments where the bulk of the work involves short runs, as, for example, in printing the official matter of a municipality or a college, the necessity for frequently preparing the machines affords considerable leisure to the feeders. These intervals explain the groups of girls often to be seen chatting and knitting in odd corners of the machine-room. Some of these shops recognise the right of a girl to feed and keep clean "her own machine" and no other. Where this is the case a girl may be employed feeding for no longer than a quarter of the normal working week of fifty-two and a half hours owing to the shortness of the runs and the length of time spent in re-adjustment. The work is dirty but not dangerous, as all machinery is well-fenced, and accidents are[Pg 171] of very rare occurrence. The day's work usually starts at 6.15 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m., with meal hours at 9 and at 2 o'clock and half an hour for tea when engaged on overtime. Saturday's shift is from 6.15 a.m. until 10 a.m. Girls are paid 5s., in a few shops 6s., a week as beginners. They get their first rise in three months, and are gradually advanced to an average wage of 10s., while an expert feeder may earn 11s., or at the outside 12s., a week. When girls find that they can feed well after a comparatively short time in a shop and that they are getting only 7s. or 8s. a week they commonly seek and obtain the average wage elsewhere. Managers fancy "it would not do" to advance a girl abruptly from 6s. to 10s. a week in the same shop, but do not blame the girls for leaving. "It is human nature." Girls are taken on at any age after fourteen, and stay on till they are married or until they are called away to domestic duties. Some remain on after marriage, but not more than 1 or 2 per cent. A few come back as widows. Married and unmarried as workers are "six of one and half a dozen of the other," remarked an employer of both, while another thought married women "less regular" in attendance. There are no signs of married women lowering rates of pay. "Time and a half" is the overtime rate. Women workers who do not get paid overtime when they work beyond the normal day get paid over the holidays, but not otherwise. There are no fines. There is no trade organisation among the machine feeders, and as the various unions of the men are not directly affected they do not interfere. In some firms feeding has been done by girls for a quarter of a century; in others they have been introduced only within the last five or six years. Boys were rough, irregular, scarce, and wanted higher pay. The girls, although they also are drawn from a rough class, are steadier, cleaner, and more economical in the use of material than boys. Besides, there are more of them. There was no inducement for boys to continue at such work, so they have been drafted into certain forms of unskilled, but fairly well paid, labour, such as is offered by the Post Office or bread factories. In some districts they go to the shipyards to assist riveters, and are able to earn straight away twice the wages they would obtain in a printing shop. As overtime by girls is restricted by legislation, young men (over 18) are kept for feeding in one large jobbing-shop where there are often seasons of great pressure (e.g., in the printing of penny monthly diaries and time-tables) and where "rushes" and overtime are inevitable. These young men would not be thus employed but for the restrictions of the Factory Acts, as the manager, for reasons stated above, much prefers girls for feeding. While all modern machines are fitted with self-fliers, not one of the many attempts to provide automatic feeders has proved quite satisfactory. For long runs such feeders as have been designed may serve fairly well, but in shops with much jobbing and many short runs too much time would be spent in adjusting the feeder to the particular job. The sole advantages of a mechanical feeder are that it neither "takes ill" nor "goes on strike." Meanwhile it is imperfect and expensive, and the supply of cheap female labour abundant.

[Pg 172]

(B.) Lithographic Printing. Machine Feeding.

What has been said of feeders under letterpress printing is generally true of feeders in the lithographic branch. The only difference seems to be one of social position. Girls employed in feeding lithographic machines are "higher,"[97] "less filthy in talk," etc. They form the intermediate class, of which the girls in the bookbinding and warehouse departments are at the top. In one shop where all three classes are employed, the manager remarked that these caste distinctions were "clean cut," and obvious to the most casual observer.

[97] They are supposed to be lower in London, Manchester, etc.—[Ed.]

(C.) Letterpress Printing. Type-setting.

The employment of women as compositors is a "vexed question." In two shops only are they so employed in Glasgow, and both are on the black list of the local trade union. Inasmuch as the conditions which obtain in these shops differ in important respects, they are here described separately.

Firm No. 1 introduced women as compositors some nine or ten years ago, when a dispute with the union ensued. It now employs about a dozen women at the cases. Girls are taken on at any age after fourteen. In three months' time they are able to set up type in "solid dig," i.e., newspaper or book matter, consisting of solid uniform paragraphs. Three girls who have spent about eight years with this firm are declared to be "good at displaying," and "more competent than the ordinary journeyman." Beginners get 6s. a week during the first year, and in the third year are put on piecework rates. There are no indentures. Capable women compositors may earn 24s. a week, while their average earnings may be put at 22s. a week, and they never sink below a pound. Young workers make an average of 18s. a week or thereabouts. The normal week is one of fifty-one hours, made up as follows:—

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on four days.

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

A compositor sometimes acts as "clicker," i.e., checks the amount of piecework, but this is usually done by a clerk. No married women are employed. Overtime is paid time and a half, and women are fined a penny for being late.

Firm No. 2 employed at one time about two dozen girls in the composing-rooms. They were engaged solely on solid newspaper work, and never in the higher branches of the trade, such as "displaying." Seats were provided for them. They worked a forty-eight hour week for a "stab" wage of 15s. or 16s., and had three weeks' holiday, off and on, for which they were paid. Further, they were never turned away in slack time. But the experiment was not altogether a success, and by to-day the two dozen have dwindled down to two, who set for newspapers and get 16s. a week. The [Pg 173]reasons assigned for the gradual reversion to the employment of men are as follows:—

(a) Irregularity of the women's attendance at work.

(b) Their shorter hours.

(c) Marriage.

(d) The introduction of the Linotype machine, of which there are three in this establishment. This was urged as the most important cause of the change back to men.

Of the work in general, it may be said that some intelligence is needed, that no dangerous machinery is used, and that the health of the workers depends largely on the character of the workroom. The special trade disease is that to which men are similarly subject, viz., "consumption" in some of its many forms.

In Glasgow the Typographical Association has strenuously, and, with the above exceptions, successfully, resisted the introduction of women into the composing-room. The attitude taken up by the men may be summarised as follows: No objection would be offered to the employment of women at the case provided that they served the usual seven years' apprenticeship at the same rates as male apprentices, and then on its completion were paid the full standard wage. "Underpaid female labour is equally unjust to the legitimate employer and employee." To allow women unrestricted access to the composing-rooms would probably lead in time, not only to the reduction of the men's wages, but to the undermining of the trade itself. The various branches of the trade which now demand many years of apprenticeship before they are completely mastered by one man would be split up and distributed among a number of highly-specialized workers. Women would be employed for separate departments, and by being continuously kept at one job or branch would become expert therein, but would have no knowledge of the trade as a whole.

The employers, on the other hand, are aggrieved that, while the union prevents women from acting as compositors in Glasgow, the same trade society allows them to work in Edinburgh. The result of the present arrangement is to divert a certain class of trade, viz., "solid dig," or book work, from other centres to Edinburgh. The cause of this is to be found in the non-employment of women compositors in Glasgow, and is not, as sometimes suggested, due to the superiority of Edinburgh printing.

In answer to the claim of the union to equal pay for equal work for women and men, it is urged by the masters:—

(1) Women when employed as compositors at piecework rates get the best, i.e., the simplest jobs. They are put to do what boys would be at when half through their apprenticeship. They are kept always at pretty much the same kind of work, and thus become very skilful at it. Boys, on the other hand, would claim to be shifted on to the higher branches of the trade.

(2) The man who now does the solid type-setting, which the employer wishes to see a woman do, is paid higher than a woman would or should be, because he is liable to be called on at any[Pg 174] moment to undertake the more complex operations of his craft, while a woman is not. In other words, the man is paid for potential ability.

(3) If women were taken on freely to do solid setting, it is not at all likely that they would seriously aspire to the higher stages of the compositor's craft.

(a) Partly for physical reasons. Women are not fitted to handle the heavy formes.

(b) Partly because they could not be relied upon to go through a full course of training. They would be continually leaving in the middle or at the end of it, and employers, therefore, would not take the trouble to train them. "The pick of the girls get married. The qualities which make a girl smart and successful at her work would similarly make for her success in the marriage market."

(4) The cheaper type-setting of women is needed in order to compete successfully with the Linotype machine. There is no doubt that to a certain extent the comparatively low price of women's labour tends to retard the introduction of machinery.

(D.) Bookbinding.

In the bookbinding trade girls fold, put in plates and illustrations, collate, sew by hand and by machine. Sewing used all to be done by hand, but machines were introduced some fifteen years ago. In the case of primers and stitched books girls do all except print the covers. They make cloth cases as distinct from leather cases. Girls also lay the gold leaf on covers, which are subsequently stamped by machines operated by men. For at least half a century women have worked in these branches, but while in earlier days they learnt a variety of operations the tendency now is to keep them to a special process or machine. Hence a smart girl can pick up her task in a week. The old custom of a four years' apprenticeship still survives. Girls start at fourteen, or at thirteen if they have passed the fifth standard. The initial wage is still in some shops 3s. a week, but there is a decided upward tendency, which in one case was found to reach 4s. 6d. for beginners. On the termination of the apprenticeship an average wage of 10s. a week is paid, but in the exceptional case referred to above the average was given as 12s. 6d., while 15s. is earned by expert pagers, coverers, and perforators who have been in the employment of the firm for some time. A chargewoman gets about 15s. a week, while the principal forewoman in a firm employing nearly 300 girls in its bookbinding branch is paid a guinea per week. Folders and hand-sewers are paid piecework rates in the large shops, but not in the smaller ones. To the casual visitor these pieceworkers exhibit a remarkable swiftness and accuracy, and the work must involve no small physical strain. Although the girls engaged in folding and the allied processes are as a rule of higher intelligence than mill girls and machine feeders and drawn from different social strata, there are[Pg 175] many who come, frail and under-fed, from very poor homes. To these especially the early hour at which the day's work begins is a hardship. On a Glasgow winter's morning to start work at 6.15 on a hurried bite of bread and margarine, with the distant prospect of more bread and margarine three hours later, leads logically to "broken time." There has been some slight tendency towards beginning at 8 o'clock and stopping on Saturdays at 1, but two of the largest firms still adhere to 6.15 a.m. and finish on Saturdays at 10 a.m. The manager of one of these characterised the system as a "relic of barbarism," and said he had tried to alter the hour to 8 o'clock, but the men vigorously opposed the change and the scheme had to be dropped. As matters now stand, and owing to the great irregularity of the attendance during the week, work has often to go on from 11 till 2 on Saturdays. Otherwise in this establishment overtime is systematically avoided, the manager maintaining that the normal week of 52½ hours is quite exhausting enough for the girls. When, as at seasons of unusual pressure, overtime is reluctantly resorted to, it is paid time-and-a-quarter, as in the case of men. The busy season lasts from August to March, but the girls are hardly affected, and have plenty of work round the year. In another large firm, where much railway printing is done, the conditions differ somewhat. The hours are as follows:—

6.30 a.m. to 9 a.m.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturdays till 1 p.m.

There are small fines for spoilt work, but the money goes to the Workers' Benevolent Fund. These fines do not amount to more than sixpence per head per annum. Overtime is worked to the full limit. It is paid at a higher rate, but not at the same proportionally higher rate as men. Girls are never suspended in slack seasons, but are put on time wages of 13s. or 14s. a week for the best workers.

The employment of married women is regarded as exceptional, but all large firms have a small number of such—3 or 4 per cent., perhaps. The usual practice is for girls to come from school and remain on until they get married or leave for some domestic purposes. Some come back as widows or when living apart from their husbands. Some firms boast a considerable number of workers who have been employed for very long periods, ranging from 15 to 30 years and upwards. There are no signs of married women lowering the rates of pay. It is customary for those who return after a long absence to do so at the old wages. Efforts have been made from time to time to organise the women into unions, but they have invariably proved disappointing. Indirectly the women have gained by the successful efforts of the men to shorten the hours of toil. Generally speaking the attitude of the men's unions is not so much one of hostility as of indifference to women's work, except where it threatens to encroach on the men's preserves. There is no positive agreement as to the line of demarcation; it is determined tacitly by use and wont. The men profess to see a tendency among employers[Pg 176] to extend the field of female labour. This extension of woman's sphere they deprecate as likely to lead to the lowering of men's wages. Just as men are never employed in folding in the bookbinding department of a publishing firm, so certain processes are invariably never done by women. As a rule men do the heavier and more complicated work, while women do that which is preparatory or supplementary. In jobbing-shops where odd volumes come in to be bound in various styles women are unsuitable, and men do the work right through; but in large publishing houses where orders run into thousands women specialise on particular processes. Women's work is apt to be extended where there are large quantities involved and where the work can be sub-divided. While women perform many of these sub-divisions quite as skilfully as men, they do not exhibit a like concentration of effort, and are more inclined to scamp.

Opinions differ as to the amount of homework done nowadays. The plant required is just a folder—a piece of bone. There is no doubt that to some extent folding is still done at home by the older girls who have during the day been employed in the factory. One employer admitted that on "not more than three or at most four nights in the year" do girls take work home from his shop. The cause is set down to the impatience of the public. Everybody wants his order executed immediately. Rates paid for homework are, if anything, a shade less than those paid for work done in the factory. While such work increases the total earnings this is not the main motive for undertaking it. A good deal of it is forced, and due to the urgency of the public demand. During very busy months some firms have a great deal of folding done as outwork by widows and married women not now employed in the factory during the day. But this practice is declining. Twopence per 1,000 extra is paid by one firm, i.e., 10d. as against 8d., for this outwork to compensate for lack of facilities in the home.

Despite the great number of sewing and folding machines introduced in recent years there are probably more women employed at the trade than ever. There is more work. The small shops tend to retain women's labour. Their jobs are so small in amount and varied in character that it would not pay them to introduce machinery. Further, in the large shops, folding machines have not always proved satisfactory. Doubtless, had men been engaged in folding during the last fifty years, employers would ere this have perfected a folding machine, but the cheapness of women's labour takes away some of the incentive to invention. Sometimes the introduction of a machine reduces women's work in one department and increases it in another. Take as an example the wire-stitching machine used in the production of tens of thousands of penny pocket time-tables and diaries. If the diary is not out during the first three days of the month it may as well not appear at all. There is a short selling time during which sales are keen. Without the device of the stitching machine the only way in which large quantities of such ephemeral publications could be placed quickly on the market would[Pg 177] be by the employment of a very large staff of women. But the big and rapid output possible by means of the machine, although it reduces the work of women stitchers, brings increased work to the women folders.

(E.) Machine Ruling.

Girls who start as feeders are sometimes promoted to the supervision of simple ruling machines. Men look upon this with disfavour, as it used to be considered their work. One firm is said to have only two men now employed where there were once forty, and the two that remain are tenters, who supervise the girls and the machines. Machine ruling is paid at time rates. Wages rank as high as 17s. a week, where men formerly got 28s. For more complex machines girls would need to be specially trained, but managers think they could easily be prepared, as intelligence rather than strength is necessary. The girls themselves believe they would succeed if given a chance.

(F.) Type and Stereotype Founding.

No type founding is done in Glasgow, and no women are employed here in stereotype founding. Such work is considered unsuitable for women, and there seems no likelihood of their taking it up.

(G.) Paper Staining.

This work has always been done by women. There is no formal apprenticeship, but it takes a couple of years before the girls are thoroughly initiated. They are taken on at thirteen or fourteen at a wage of 4s. a week, paid 5s. at the end of the first year and 6s. at the end of the second. Afterwards their wages range from 12s. to 14s., with an average of about 12s. 6d. per week. There is no piecework and no fines are exacted. The working hours are 56 per week, distributed as follows:—

6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Work is plentiful all the year round. No dangerous machinery is used, and there is no special trade disease. The girls remain on till they get married. They are drawn from the "better sort" of working-class families, and some were reported as coming to the factory on cycles. They have no trade organisation, and there do not seem to have been any attempts on the part of the girls to supplant men in the allied processes. No machinery has yet been devised capable of doing the work of the girls.

(H.) Paper-box Making.

Girls come from school and begin by dabbling about the shop and running messages. Presently they become "spreaders," and in two[Pg 178] or three years' time "coverers," the highest position open to them. The cutting of the paper and cardboard is done by machines, which men operate. The material thus prepared to the required sizes is passed on to the girls to be glued up into boxes. The girls use no machinery, and stand to their work at benches. At the height of summer, and despite the gluey atmosphere of the workrooms, the girls have the usual reluctance to open windows. Wages start at 3s. or 3s. 6d. Spreaders are paid from 5s. 6d., to 7s. 6d.; coverers, 10s. and 11s. Hours vary from shop to shop. Some begin at 8 and finish at 6.30 (Saturdays, 12.30), with a meal hour at 1 o'clock. Others allow an hour and a quarter for dinner, so as to enable girls to get home. The week is then arranged as follows:

7 a.m. to 9.15 a.m. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 3.15 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

(I.) Pattern-book Making.

This trade consists in making pattern-books for travellers, and is usually found in close alliance with box-making. Girls get 4s. to start, and rise to 13s. a week. The hours in one factory visited were found to be as follows:—

8 a.m. to 1 p.m. 2 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. without a break.

[Pg 179]


Fifteen firms were visited.

No women compositors were found in the chief printing businesses visited in Birmingham. The wife of the manager of one factory said that ten years ago in non-society places there had been a very few women compositors in Birmingham. They took 15s., as compared to 33s. taken by the men compositors for the same work. It is now fifteen years since the informant left the trade, and she believes that at present none exist in Birmingham. She imagines that it is the strength of the Compositors' Union which has driven them out.

Only one owner of a printing business considered that factory legislation was detrimental to the interests of women in the printing trade. He says that he keeps a number of youths where he would otherwise employ women, as in stress of trade overwork has to be done, including Sunday work, e.g., at the time of the great cycle boom. He tried to get permission for the women to work on Sunday, but could not.

Another manager considered that the Compositors' Union spoilt the chance of women workers in the printing trade. He himself, if it were not for the Union, would like to train girl compositors. No other printer expressed this opinion. All said that, on the whole, men were better in the compositors' room, as they could be set on any job, and the pressure of women would necessitate much rearrangement.


Training and Wages.Machine Ruling is the only process for which training can be said to exist. In some houses women are still articled or apprenticed to this branch, but in many they simply learn their trade as they can, from the foreman or forewoman. They generally begin as machine feeders of the ruling machine. The secretary of the Union of Bookbinders and Machine Rulers gave the information that women had been first employed as machine rulers about twenty years ago. He himself had learnt his trade under a woman who was head of the whole department. The final wage of a woman machine ruler is 17s. to 20s. In one case a female ruler was taking 22s., but I was told that was because she was a relative of the employer. The minimum wage of a man belonging to the Union is 32s. I was informed, however, that the[Pg 180] man always worked a heavier machine, generally made the pens, was responsible for the good condition of all the machines, and that his output was always in advance of that of a woman.

Men and Women.—In six businesses (the largest in Birmingham visited) the proportion of women machine rulers is about three to one man. An attempt was made about eight years ago to organise the women machine rulers in Birmingham, but met with no response. The secretary of the men's union informs me, "The reason why the attempt failed is probably that they have little to complain of. The wages vary from 4s. to 5s. per week for beginners, to £1 per week of fifty-two hours."


All table processes, such as folding, knocking-up, gumming, numbering, paging, interlaying, etc., are done by women. The average wage varies from 8s. to about 12s. 6d. Numbering seems to be about the best. Three numberers had taken 15s., but the average maximum was between 11s. and 12s. 6d.


Training.—A beginner is given a teacher, that is, a more experienced worker, for six weeks. The teacher gets the profits of the beginner's work, and the beginner is paid about 4s. per week.

All the work in the establishment was piecework, with the exception of the new Scotch folding machine, which turns out 25,000 envelopes per day, as against 2,000 done by hand. The day wage is 12s. per week.

Sub-divisions.—Envelope folders take 7s. to 15s. The smallest envelopes are 6d. per 1,000, the largest 1s. 10d.

Average wage for folding is 10s. to 12s. Stamping, 7s. to 10s. Stitching, 8s. to 10s. Gumming, 10s. to 14s.

General Remarks.—Envelope making is not a seasonal trade.

Hours.—Maximum, 49½ per week.

8.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m., winter.

8 a.m. to 6 p.m., summer.

One week's holiday in August.

One week's holiday at Christmas.


Colour Printing takes about six months to learn well.

Wages.—10s. to 12s. for a woman. A man employed on a heavier machine took 20s.

The forewoman takes 14s.


By the rules of the Machine Rulers' and Bookbinders' Consolidated Union women may only bind paper pamphlets. They are not allowed to bind regular books. They may book-stitch with thread or wire, glue, fold, bronze, and gild.

[Pg 181]


Business No. 1.

Conditions.—Cap bag-making is all piecework, except for beginners, who start at 4s. In fifteen months, manager says they should be able to earn 10s. per week by piecework.

Average Wage.—13s. to 15s. Manager considered that in heavy cap bag-making 19s. was top wage ever taken by an extra good hand in extra busy time.

Eighteen girls were employed in cap bag-making.

A rougher class of girls were employed in the sugar bag department, which is heavier work. The wages were higher for this heavier work. The average wage approached 15s.

The bag-stringing machine was the only machinery employed in this business. It was worked by a foreman and forewoman. No married women were employed. The clerks were all women, taking 20s. per week. The manager preferred them to men because they were content with that wage as a maximum.

Outwork given to old workers under known conditions, as since the bags are for the grocery trade it is important to know home conditions. Same price as for inworkers, but outworkers found their own paste and brushes, etc.

Hours.—8 a.m. to 7 p.m., 1 hour dinner, 20 minutes tea. Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Remarks.—The contrast between this business and the business next door (see following case) was very striking as regards relation between manager and employees.

Business No. 2.

Girls are employed here in bag-making and table processes. The employer considered that the girls could average 9s. to 10s. He gave the highest wage for machine laying-on, which begins at 7s. and goes up to 12s. and 13s. This wage was given because of the danger of the process (I think the machine was the "Arab," which in union houses women may not work "because of the danger"). Manager believed a good many of his hands were married women. He did not care whether they were married or not. The forewoman and the girl in the warehouse were each taking 11s.

Homework.—Given out in busy times to whoever applied, without further precautions. Manager thought no outworker took more than 4s. to 5s. per week.

Hours.—8 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.

Fifty-two and a half hours per week regular time. Just now (December) they were working ten hours per day.

August slackest month. Manager generally turned off hands then. Manager spoke of difficulty of getting workers—he could not get boys to feed the machines, for example, because it led to nothing.

Manager said he "conducted his business on purely business principles" and got his work done as cheaply as he could.

[Pg 182]


This is the lowest work in letterpress printing. Girls are employed largely as feeders, and are replacing boys. The managers said that the work was not liked by boys, as leading to nothing, and it was difficult to get them. The wages for a machine feeder are 4s. 6d. to 5s. 6d. initial wage, which rises to 8s. 6d. or 9s. In the best workshops we were told that the firm tried to find better work for machine feeders when they had been some time with them and had proved themselves capable and steady. Other firms did not know what became of machine feeders when they grew dissatisfied with the small wage paid to them.

Employment of Married Women.

It is curious to notice how few married women there are in the printing trade in Birmingham compared to the pen trade, for example. A better class of girl seems to go into the printing trade, coming from better homes than women employed in the hardware trades. It is very exceptional for a girl who marries a skilled artisan in Birmingham to continue her work, and in these trades girls appear to belong more to the skilled artisan class. Several employers refuse married women; one employer told me that he never had had an application for work from a married woman. Only one employer was indifferent as to whether he employed married women, and did not know whether his hands were married or not.

Women and Machinery.

It was very difficult to ascertain whether the machinery introduced meant dismissal of hands. In one business, for example, the thread sewing machine introduced 12 months ago did the work of 12 girls. The machinist was taking 12s. per week in place of 12 girls at 10s. to 12s. 6d. The manager said that they had not dismissed any thread sewers when this machine was introduced, but had absorbed them in other processes. They would, however, engage no more girls as thread sewers.

The new Scotch folding machine for envelopes, which turns out 25,000 per day against 2,000 done by hand, also was said not to have been productive of dismissals.[98]

[98] The only actual cases of dismissal of workers owing to introduction of machinery which I can ascertain is that of the new grinding machines for pens. The employer, who has invented the machine, told me he meant to dismiss about half his grinders and supply their places with girls fresh from school, as very little skill will be needed to work the machine. I hear that the largest pen business has ordered sixty of these machines, but I have not yet ascertained what effect it will have on that business. The employer in the first business mentioned spoke of the grinders as the most indocile of his workers, and as many of them belonged to the Penworkers' Union, he hoped that the machine would help in annihilating the union. In two businesses I was told that the cheapness of women labour retarded the introduction of thread sewing machines, etc.

[Pg 183]

Continuity of Employment in Printing Trade.

The printing trade in Birmingham is slackest in August and September. The busiest times are November, December, and towards Easter time. In the best businesses the hands are asked to take half-holiday in turns in slack times, or short hours are worked, but the managers appeared to make every effort to keep the workers employed as far as possible, and in no cases actually to dismiss hands. In the worst businesses dismissal in slack times is common.

Overtime and the Factory Laws.

Only one employer considered that the factory laws against overtime militated against women's employment. All spoke of their endeavour to reduce overtime, owing to the fact that their union men asked one and a half and twice usual rate. No employer acknowledged that women were ever kept overtime, although, from the account of one worker, apparently this does sometimes occur.

All concurred that the cheapness of women's work compared to men's outweighed any inconvenience arising from special legislation for women and young persons. In no case was the cheapness of women's work attributed to legislation, but to absence of unionism and different standards of life for men and women, and inferiority of physical strength and mental ingenuity, and also to custom.

[Pg 184]


The following tables of wages paid to the workwomen as described, form, we believe, a unique record in wages statistics. The occupations and the nature of the wages, e.g., time or piece, are as follows:—

1. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

2. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

3. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

4. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

5. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

6. Hand Folder in Bookbinding House (Time).

7. Learner. Folder in Bookbinding House (Piece).

8. Folder and Gatherer in Bookbinding House (Piece).

9. Hand Sewer in Bookbinding House (Piece).

10. Hand Sewer in Bookbinding House (Piece).

11. Machine Sewer in Bookbinding House (Piece).

12. Learner. Sewing and Collating in Bookbinding House (Piece).

13. Folding, Sewing and Collating in Bookbinding House (Time).

14. Collating and Sewing in Bookbinding House (Piece).

15. Plate hand in Bookbinding House (Time).

16. Plate hand in Bookbinding House (Time).

17. Layer on of Gold in Bookbinding House (Piece).

18. Printers' Binding (Piece).

19. Printers' Binding (Time).

20. Printers' Binding (Time).

21. Printers' Binding (Piece).

22. Printers' Binding (Piece).

23. Printers' Binding (Piece).

24. Hand Folder in Printers' Warehouse (Piece).

25. Envelope Packer (Time).

26. Machine Ruler (Time).

[Pg 185]


Piece Rates.

1898. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Piece Rates—Quick Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[x] Missing from wage sheets.


Piece Rates—Quick Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[Pg 186]


Piece Rates—Typical Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Piece Rates—Slow Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Time Rates.

This worker was paid 18s. per week steadily throughout the year 1899.


Up to week 8 receives Fixed Sum, afterwards Half Earnings at Piece Rates.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[Pg 187]


Piece Rates.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[x] Week missing from wage sheets.


Piece Rates—Slow Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[x] She left after this.


Piece Rates—Quick Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[x] Missing from wage sheets.

[Pg 188]


Piece Rates.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Receives Half Earnings at Piece Rates.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Time Hand.

1898. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[Pg 189]


Piece Rates—Quick Hand.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Time Rates, 13s. for 54 hours till October, then 14s. Overtime, 3d. an hour.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
11130241210½37[x] 50136

[x] Missing from wage sheets.


Time Rates, 16s. for 54 hours. Overtime, 3½d. per hour for first 3 hours, 4d. per hour afterwards.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
11142415537[x] 50157

[x] Missing from wage sheets.

[Pg 190]


Piece Rates.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Piece Rates—Quick Worker.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Time Worker at 16s.

1899. 1899. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[Pg 191]


s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
1886. 14 1 1890. 14 4 1893. 13 10 1896. 15 10
" 14 8 " 16 0
1887. 15 3 " 11 0 1897. 17 4
" 14 4 " 4 5[x] 1894. 16 0 " 16 0
" 14 1 " 15 8 " 16 7
" 14 3 1891. 14 4 " 17 3 " 16 4
" 15 3 " 16 11
1888. 15 6 " 14 11 1898. 16 6
" 14 8 " 16 11 1895. 16 10 " 15 11
" 13 11 " 15 6 " 15 9
" 14 3 1892. 15 0 " 10 0[y] " 19 3
" 15 2 " 16 0
1889. 15 11 " 15 7 1899. 19 10
" 14 0 " 16 6 1896. 18 6 " 18 9
" 14 2 " 15 0 " 18 8
" 15 9 1893. 15 4 " 17 8 " 18 10
" 15 8

[x] Absent 9 weeks.

[y] Absent 4 weeks.


s. d. 1896.
s. d. 1897.
s. d. 1897.
s. d.
44 15 2 21 16 1 1 13 10 33
45 18 22 9 10½ 2 14 34
46 14 23 13 0 3 17 35 14 4
47 18 24 16 1 4 17 36 14
48 17 4 25 11 5 15 4 37 17
49 16 26 15 6 11 9 38 18
50 13 9 27 13 7 7 16 39 14 7
Week.s.d.3213 121644182
9 14 10 41 16 10 21 18 1
10 17 5 42 19 2 22 18 1898.
11 17 5 43 15 23 14 2 Week. s. d.
21.—Piece Hand in Binding Department of Printers and Stationers—continued.
1898. 1898. 1899. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
2720Week.s. d.29113183

[Pg 192]


Piece Rates.

1895. Half-Pay
1895. Half-Pay
1895. Full-Pay
1896. Full-Pay
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
72 5½ 253 9½ 4216 3 512 1
83 5½ 265 0½ 4314 3 617 8
93 9 277 4 4412 3½ 710 0
104 10 282 9½ 4514 4 810 2
113 9 293 5½ 4615 4 914 5
125 4½ 305 8½ 4714 4 1014 3
136 8 316 5 4816 5 118 3
145 8 323 3½ 4915 4 1211 8½
152 4 332 0 5012 6½ 1310 1
162 7 343 9½ 5113 9 1412 7
175 11 355 1 528 1 155 6
186 11½ 367 6 169 0
196 7½ 373 3 1896. 1714 7
203 4 383 3½ Week.s. d. 1814 8
212 8½ 395 10 112 4 1917 10
225 6 406 0 29 8 2018 6
234 11½ 415 3 312 7 217 3
246 6½ 49 8 229 11
22.—Hand Folder and Sewer in Printing House—continued.
1896. Full-pay
1897. Full-pay
1898. Full-pay
1899. Full-pay
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
2315 1½ 2114 6½ 1816 10½ 1517 9
2410 4 2216 3 1917 9½ 1618 3
2513 8 2319 11 2015 10 1714 5
2610 0½ 2415 10 2111 6½ 1818 3
279 4 2514 2½ 2215 6 1919 5
2812 5 2613 2 2310 2 2015 2
295 8 2716 1½ 248 11 215 5½
307 0 2812 10 2512 5½ 2212 9
3111 2 299 2 2618 0 2319 11
3213 9 309 9½ 2717 4½ 2422 2½
3318 9½ 316 4 288 6 2518 4
349 0 3212 9 2915 8½ 2620 7
359 8 33 309 7 2718 1½
3613 3 34 3115 11 2819 9½
3711 2½ 35 3217 10½ 2917 1
3811 8 3613 5½ 33 3020 0
39 378 0 34 3116 6
404 5 386 8 3515 5½ 3213 10
4118 3½ 397 0 3619 3 3322 8
4210 11½ 4011 2½ 3718 4 349 5½
4310 1 4115 2 3818 7 35
4416 6½ 429 9 3919 3 3614 0½
4514 0 4310 4 4023 5 3720 3½
4614 8 4410 2½ 4118 8½ 3819 2
473 6½ 4516 4½ 4218 5 3915 9
4812 4 4616 10½ 4312 0 4018 6
4912 3½ 4715 10 4416 9 4120 0½
5013 5 4817 6 4520 3 4218 11
5113 10 499 1½ 4618 5 4317 2
527 7 5015 8 4715 11½ 4420 5
5111 6 4817 9½ 4518 4
1897. 528 8½ 4919 0 4619 7½
Week. s. d. 537 8 5018 9½ 4718 5
110 3 5114 5 4819 9
214 1 1898. 5212 3 4920 0
37 4½ Week. 5019 3½
46 4½ 117 11 1899. 5116 6
510 6 25 0 Week. s. d. 529 6½
615 4 37 6 119 1½
716 9 410 5½ 219 10 1900.
815 2 516 7 317 11½ Week.
914 7 612 8 48 8 114 10
1014 7 711 7 515 2 219 0½
1115 3 812 11 619 8½ 320 9½
1218 0 916 0 716 9 419 6½
1312 0 1017 5 88 9 518 6
1412 9½ 1118 0 911 7½ 622 4
1515 1 1216 2 1017 7 721 7
168 5 1313 3½ 1117 5 822 0
179 7 1416 8 1215 0½ 918 9
1811 4 159 10 1312 9 1017 5½
1918 11½ 16 1414 0 1115 3
2010 3 1713 3½

[Pg 193]

[Pg 194]


Piece Rates—Slow Hand.

1898. 1898. 1898. 1899.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.
24810 3883 52410 11118
2560 39811 121011
2671 40711 1899. 1370
2781 4151 Week.s.d. 1442
2866 4246 179 15710
2982 43210 284 1676
3075 4462 35 11 17911
3159 4560 486 1845
3295 46110 581


Piece Rates.

1898. 1898. 1898. 1898.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.


Time Work, 14s.

1898. 1898. 1898. 1898.
Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d. Week. s. d.

[Pg 195]


The figures in brackets to the left of the wage give the nominal time wage.

Week. s. d. s. d. Week. s. d. s. d. Week. s. d. s. d.
1 (4 6) 3 4 1 (6 6) 5 10 1 (7 6) 1 2
2 " 4 9 2 " 6 5 2 " 6 8
3" 4 6 3 " 6 4 3 " 6 0
4 " 4 6 4 (7 0) 6 10 4 " 7 3
5 " 4 6 5 " 6 11 5 " 7 5
6 (5 0) 5 0 6 " 7 0 6 " 7 6
7 " 4 11 7 " 6 9 7 " 6 2
8 " 5 0 8 " 7 0 8 " 7 8
9 " 3 4 9 " 6 10 9 " 7 6
10 (5 6) 5 6 10 " 5 1 10 " 6 11
11 " 5 6 11 " 6 11 11 " 7 5
12 " 5 6 12 " 6 10 12 " 7 6
13 " 5 6 13 " 6 11 13 " 5 5
14 " 5 6 14 " 5 1 14 " 6 1
15 " 5 6 15 " 4 2 15 " 7 9
16 " 4 0 16 " 6 11 16 " 7 10
17 " 4 7 17 " 6 10 17 " 7 9
18 " 5 0 18 " 6 10 18 " 7 7
19 " 5 5 19 (7 6) 7 5 19 " 7 10
20 " 5 6 20 " 7 4 20 " 7 9
21 " 5 5 21 " 7 5 21 " 6 0
22 " 5 4 22 " 5 11 22 " 7 4
23 " 5 5 23 " 7 11 23 " 7 5
24 " 4 8 24 " 8 0 24 " 7 5
25 " 5 5 25 " 7 4 25 " 7 3
26 " 4 6 26 " 7 6 26 " 5 7
27 (6 0) 5 11 27 " 7 3 27 " 6 6
28 " 6 0 28 " 5 10 28 (8 0) 6 5
29 " 5 11 29 " 7 5 29 " 7 10
30 " 5 11 30 " 7 9 30 " 7 11
31 " 5 10 31 " 5 1 31 "
32 " 3 11 32 " 6 6 32 " 6 0
33 " 4 10 33 " 7 2 33" 7 10
34 " 5 5 34 " 7 6 34 " 7 11
35 " 5 2 35 " 7 6 35 " 8 3
36 " 5 10 36 " 7 6 36 " 7 9
37 " 5 11 37 " 7 5 37 " 7 10
38 " 5 10 38 " 6 8 38 " 7 10
39 " 6 0 39 " 5 8 39 " 7 8
40 " 5 10 40 " 7 5 40 " 7 9
41 " 5 11 41 " 7 4 41 " 7 9
42 " 6 0 42 " 7 5 42 " 8 2
43 " 5 10 43 " 7 6 43 " 8 0
44 " 5 11 44 " 6 10 44 " 8 1
45 (6 6) 6 4 45 " 7 3 45 " 7 11
46 " 6 2 46 " 6 9 46 " 8 0
47 " 6 5 47 " 7 5 47 " 8 2
48 " 6 5 48 " 6 8 48 " 8 5
49 " 6 4 49 " 7 4 49 " 8 3
50 " 6 4 50 " 7 4 50 " 8 1
51 " 6 3 51 " 7 6 51 " 8 2
52 " 4 0 52 " 4 6 52 " 5 0

[Pg 196]


In view of the importance of the preservation of authentic wages figures we reprint the Appendix published in 1849 by Mr. Dunning to his "Reply to a Letter from the Committee of the Southwark Auxiliary Bible Society, &c.," as under:—

No. I.


Piece Workers.

1845. Sept 6th. Sept. 13th. Oct. 11th.
£ s.d. £ s.d. £ s.d.
Ashford 0 68 0 6 0 64
Aggersbury 0 710
Blichenden 0 7 0 7 0 77
Burkitt, Mrs. 0 5 0 4 0 410½
Brown, M. A. 0 69 0 71 0 6
Berridge 0 5
Bozankae 0 1 0 48 0 4
Betherston 0 0
Carpenter, Mrs. 0 4 0 4
Carpenter, M. P. 0 70 0 7 0 6
Cooper, Ann 0 5 0 5 0 48
Diggles 0 7 0 7 0 73
Day, Mary 0 72 0 611½ 0 7
Elliott, E. 0 49
Facey 0 1 0 4 0 6
Hart, E. 0 62 0 5
Joyce, M. A. 0 77 0 7
Leggatt, Mrs. 0 3
Pepper 0 710¼ 0 8 0 811¼
Rogers, E. 0 6 0 6 0 6
Richardson 0 8 0 7 0 84
Spencer 0 410
Satchell, A. E. 0 6 0 511¼ 0 5
Such, E. 0 610
Smith, Mrs. 0 3 0 7
Speak, Mrs. 0 6 0 710¾ 0 8
Touse, M. A. 0 410 0 5 0 4
Wilkins, A. 0 122 0 11 0 12
Wilkins, E. 0 7 0 7 0 811¼
—— —— ——
£6 1511 £7 37 £8 35

[Pg 197]

Time Workers.

1845. Sept 6th. Sept. 13th. Oct. 11th.
£ s.d. £ s.d. £ s.d.
Osborne, C. (10s. per week) 0 116 0 106 0 100
Burrows, E. (12s. per week) 0 120 0 1211½ 0 120
Aurnett (12s. per week) 0 142 0 127 0 1110
Holloway (learner) 0 44 0 40 0 310
Dew (7s. 6d. per week) 0 8 0 7 0 77
Bocking (learner) 0 30 0 30 0 30
Routledge (4 days' work) 0 94
Emery, A. (learner) 0 10 0 10
Mills. M. 0 100
—— —— ——
£3 2 £2 1110 £2 193


1845. Sept 6th. Sept. 13th. Oct. 11th.
£ s.d. £ s.d. £ s.d.
Atchiller, S. 0 81
Anstead, Mrs. 0 81 0 78
Aldred 0 71
Bruce, C. 0 411¼ 0 4
Bullmore 0 59 0 3 0 3
Birch, Mrs.[x] 0 8 0 89 0 16
Bell, Mrs. 0 22
Burton, S. 0 6
Clarke, M. 0 4
Cauline, E. 0 10 0 710 0 11
Cox, Mrs. 0 6 0 51
Collier, A. 0 3
Fothergill 0 211
Fisher 0 70
Foster, Mrs. 0 21
Green, Mrs. 0 7 0 40 0 5
Gulliers 0 11 0 7 0 4
Glover, M. A. 0 9 0 35
Haydram, Mrs. 0 26
Hayes, Mrs. 0 9 0 8 0 9
Hartopp 0 41 0 3
Hearn, Mrs. 0 38 0 2
Humphreys, Mrs. 0 6 0 6
Hobdell 0 6 0 3
Hatfield 0 5
Hall, Mrs. 0 610½
Joyce, M. A. 0 8
Knight, H.[x] 0 91 0 9 0 78
Carried forward £4 5 £4 19 £6 19

[x] Bills marked thus were for work done by more than one person.

[Pg 198]

Women who worked at their own Homes—continued.

1845. Sept 6th. Sept. 13th. Oct. 11th.
Brought forward £4 5s.d. £4 19s.d. £6 19s.d.
£ s.d. £ s.d. £ s.d.
Knight, E. 0 6 0 6 0 311
Kelly, or Skelly, Mrs. 0 7
Lawrance, Mrs. 0 410 0 4 0 610½
Latham 0 53 0 310¼ 0 18
McDaniell 0 5 1½
Matthews 0 7 0 5 0 7
Mills, Mrs. 0 8 0 7 0 4
Mozer, E. 0 6 0 5 0 6
Margetts 0 7 0 5
Mayes 0 1 0 55
Moseley 0 0
Neascomp 0 68
Norris, M. A. 0 78
Nichols, Mrs. 0 1
Pottiee 0 4
Parker, Mrs. 0 3 0 311¾ 0 410½
Pool 0 2
Potter, E. 0 5 0 5 0 7
Pontifex, A. 0 6 0 7
Pearce, C. 0 5
Rumball, Mrs.[x] 0 12 0 112 0 7
Rudge 0 6 0 4
Ross, Mrs. 0 1
Scott, Mrs. 0 40
Sleap 0 2
Slater 0 10 0 11 0 6
Sharp, C. 0 3
Such, E. 0 94 0 4
Smout, M. 0 4 0 51
Sumner, Mrs. 0 10 0 82 0 7
Tucker, Mrs. 0 410 0 3
Truscoat, A. 0 5 0 310½
Tattersall 0 8
Todd 0 7
Wichelam 0 3
West, Mrs. 0 4 0 4 0 211¾
Weedon 0 35 0 5
Williams, Eliz. 0 3
Williams, Eleanor 0 4
Woods, Mrs. 0 511¾
Wacey 0 1
—— —— ——
£9 18 £11 3 £15 11

[x] Bills marked thus were for work done by more than one person.

[Pg 199]

No. II.

The following names are a transcript, as far as it extends, of the Wages' Book of July 28th, 1849:—

s.    d.
Stone6 10¼
Carroll6 10   
Nalty6 0   
Zugg9 8   
Frazier4 7   
Parker7 2   
Philpots, Mrs. (2 weeks)9 1   
Salter7 1   
Giles7 11½
Name not known8
Hodnett7 10½
Measor6 6   
Ainsworth6 5   
Smith5 10   
Read5 11¼
Hone6 11¾
Stroud (2 weeks)14 11¼
Jolly7 10¾
Thomas6 10½
Harlow3 11¼
Cooper6 1   
Charles7 11¾
Cook6 11¼
Name not known6
Shay6 10   
Hodson4 2   
Brown, O.7
Mallison6 8   
Timlett7 0   
Johnson5 4   
Smith5 7   
Daniells3 4   
Paris5 10½
Rawlings7 11½
Long3 11¼
Macintosh5 7   
Cracknell5 4   
Old7 2   
s.    d.
Deacles6 6   
Time Workers.
s.    d.
Mrs. Brinton (Lewis)15 9   
Mary Shea7 6   
Mary Carpenter9 0   
Anne Cooper8 10½
E. Manvill10 11   
Hardy10 11   
Norris9 1   
Aldred8 11   
Collis8 11   
Hayes10 0   
Kinder10 11   
Wilkins10 0   
Joyce7 3   
Dew7 3   
M. Joyce7

[Pg 200]

No. III.


Aug. 4th. Aug. 11th. Aug. 18th. Aug. 23rd.
M. E. Zugg £0 10s.d. £0 8s.d. £0 9s. 8d. £0 7s.d.
A. Harlow 0 3s. 11½d.
M. A. Long £0 8s. 4d. £0 8s. 6d. £0 7s. 11d. £0 5s. 0d.
S. Olpin £0 8s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 8s. 9d. £0 5s. 11d.
M. Fowler £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s. 11d. £0 6s. 1d. £0 2s.d.
M. Morris £0 5s. 1d.
M. Beatie £0 7s. 4d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s.d. £0 3s. 2d.
M. Parker £0 8s.d. £0 8s. 4d. £0 7s. 9d. £0 5s. 9d.
M. A. Jolly £0 9s.d. £0 8s. 9d. £0 7s. 5d. £0 5s. 3d.
M. Thomas £0 8s. 3d. £0 7s. 1d. £0 6s. 10½d. £0 4s.d.
E. Carroll £0 6s. 7d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 7d. £0 4s. 6d.
M. Sheay £0 6s. 9d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 5d. £0 2s. 11½d.
H. Donovan £0 6s. 4d. £0 6s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 4s. 0d.
E. Hone £0 8s. 4d. £0 7s.d. £0 6s. 11¾d. £0 4s. 11½d.
S. Moss £0 6s. 6d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 7s.d.
E. Hainsworth £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 7d. £0 8s. 3d. £0 4s. 3d.
E. Timlett £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 11½d. £0 7s. 2d. £0 6s. 11½d.
M. Cracknell £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s. 9d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 6s. 0d.
C. Guyon £0 6s. 4d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 2d. £0 1s. 11d.
Mrs. Philpot £0 4s. 2d. £0 4s. 0d. £0 4s. 6d. £0 2s. 8d.
P. Measor £0 7s. 8d. £0 6s. 11d. £0 6s. 5d. £0 5s. 10½d.
M. Cooke £0 6s. 1d. £0 4s. 6d. £0 6s. 4d. £0 1s. 4d.
M. Stone £0 6s. 4d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 3s.d.
M. Cleaver £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 7d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 4s. 0d.
M. E. Reide £0 6s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 4d. £0 4s. 0d.
M. Foweraker £0 9s. 11d. £0 12s. 0d. £0 8s.d. £0 5s. 11d.
A. Hodnett £0 8s. 6d. £0 9s. 6d. £0 7s. 4d. £0 5s.d.
M. Smith £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 4d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 2s. 10½d.
A. Smith £0 7s. 2d. £0 5s. 4d. £0 6s.d. £0 1s.d.
M. Frazier £0 6s. 5d. £0 4s. 3d. £0 4s.d. £0 4s.d.
M. Roach £0 6s. 3d. £0 4s. 2d. £0 5s. 9d. £0 3s. 3d.
C. Mallison £0 5s. 6d. £0 5s. 0d. £0 5s. 9d. £0 3s.d.
S. Macintosh £0 4s. 4d. £0 5s. 0d. £0 4s. 11d. £0 2s.d.
B. J. Salter £0 9s. 6d. £0 9s.d. £0 8s.d. £0 6s.d.
M. J. Smith £0 7s.d. £0 6s. 11½d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 3s. 0d.
E. Daniels £0 5s.d. £0 4s.d. £0 3s.d. £0 1s. 11½d.
M. Brown £0 7s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 3s.d.
E. Rallians £0 7s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 5s. 0d.
W. Reide £0 8s. 4d. £0 8s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 5s. 0d.
M. A. Lockwood £0 5s.d. £0 8s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 6s. 8d.
E. Spall £0 7s.d. £0 6s. 1d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 4s. 0d.
J. Griffith £0 4s.d. £0 4s. 3d. £0 2s.d.
£0 6s. 9d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 4d. £0 4s.d.
L. Farris £0 4s.d. £0 5s. 1d. £0 3s. 4d. £0 1s.d.
M. Glyn £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 9d. £0 3s. 10½d.
L. Yorke £0 6s. 4d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 3d. £0 4s. 1d.
C. Brown £0 8s.d. £0 8s. 0d. £0 7s.d. £0 4s. 10½d.
M. Fenning £0 8s. 7d. £0 8s.d. £0 8s. 0d. £0 6s.d.
E. Burton £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s.d.
£16 4s.d. £15 18s.d. £15 7s. 10½d. £10 7s.d.

[Pg 201]


Aug. 4th. Aug. 11th. Aug. 18th. Aug. 23rd.
M. Richardson £0 6s. 4d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 7s.d. £0 4s. 9d.
M. Touse £0 5s. 10d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s. 11d. £0 4s. 6d.
E. Hawkins £0 4s.d.
A. Hanson £0 6s.d. £0 5s. 10d. £0 5s. 11d. £0 5s. 1d.
M. Clements £0 6s. 0d. £0 6s. 3d. £0 6s. 1d. £0 4s.d.
L. Thomson £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 7s.d. £0 5s. 2d.
E. Webb £0 7s. 7d. £0 7s. 3d. £0 8s. 3d. £0 8s. 0d.
E. Wigmore £0 6s. 10½d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s.d. £0 4s.d.
H. Gammon £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 2s. 6d.
A. Butcher £0 1s. 0d. £0 10s. 4d. £0 10s. 10d. £0 9s.d.
E. Taylor £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 6d. £0 7s.d. £0 2s. 0d.
M. Wheatley £0 7s. 2d. £0 6s. 5d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 5s. 11d.
E. Harris £0 5s. 0d. £0 5s.d. £0 3s.d.
J. Williams £0 7s. 3d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 1d. £0 2s. 6d.
H. Hutchinson £0 6s. 9d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 5s.d.
E. Ashford £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 6d. £0 7s. 10d. £0 8s. 1d.
R. Howell £0 8s. 8d. £0 6s. 8d. £0 6s. 4d. £0 4s.d.
M. Hubbard £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 5s.d.
M. Abbott £0 8s. 0d. £0 8s. 4d. £0 8s. 1d. £0 6s. 8d.
M. Akerman £0 8s. 0d. £0 8s. 6d. £0 8s. 6d. £0 7s. 2d.
A. Hall £0 7s. 4d. £0 7s. 2d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 5s. 6d.
E. Ellis £0 3s. 11d. £0 4s. 5d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 1s. 6d.
M. Gildbody £0 7s. 1d. £0 7s. 4d. £0 7s. 6d. £0 3s. 6d.
M. Mack £0 10s. 7d. £0 10s. 1d. £0 10s. 4d. £0 9s. 10d.
E. Potter £0 7s. 6d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 4d. £0 6s. 6d.
C. Collier £0 9s. 0d. £0 8s. 6d. £0 7s. 9d. £0 7s. 0d.
M. Smiley £0 5s. 2d. £0 4s. 10d. £0 5s. 0d. £0 4s. 3d.
A. Clarke £0 7s. 0d. £0 5s. 3d. £0 6s. 1d. £0 4s. 5d.
B. Mealoney £0 6s.d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 4s. 6d.
M. A. Sullivan £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 5d. £0 8s. 3d. £0 6s. 6d.
M. Diggles £0 6s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 3d. £0 6s. 1d.
J. Purvey £0 6s. 0d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 3d. £0 5s.d.
M. Reding £0 9s.d. £0 9s. 2d. £0 9s. 4d. £0 8s.d.
L. Tattersall £0 6s. 10d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 7s. 0d.
E. Treacher £0 5s.d. £0 5s. 6d. £0 5s.d. £0 3s.d.
M. Davis £0 9s.d. £0 9s. 0d. £0 9s. 7d. £0 7s.d.
E. Griffiths £0 7s. 5d. £0 7s.d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s.d.
M. Clarke £ 0 8s. 10½d. £ 0 9s.d. £ 0 9s. 0d. £ 0 7s.d.
M. Perkins £0 7 s.d. £0 6s. 10d. £0 7s.d. £0 5s.d.
E. Marshall £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 4s.d.
G. Trimnell £0 6s.d. £0 5s.d. £0 4s.d. £0 2s. 11d.
H. Night £0 6s.d. £0 5s. 10½d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 4s. 3d.
M. Norcott £0 5s. 10d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 6s.d.
M. Goldwin £0 6s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 5d. £0 5s.d.
E. Ainyouns £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s. 3d. £0 4s. 1d.
M. Newnham £0 6s. 0d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 0d. £0 5s. 8d.
M. Rodgers £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s. 10½d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 6s.d.
C. Greentree £0 7s.d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 7s. 5d. £0 4s. 11d.
J. Greenaway £0 7s.d. £0 8s. 6d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 3s. 11d.
E. Carrington £0 7s.d. £0 7s.d. £0 7s. 6d. £0 5s. 11½d.
S. Greenaway £0 6s.d. £0 6s.d. £0 6s. 6d. £0 4s. 3d.
M. Key £0 7s. 6d. £0 7s. 0d. £0 5s. 2d. £0 5s.d.
S. Williams £0 8s. 4d. £0 5s.d. £0 7s. 1d. £0 6s.d.
£18 1s. 10¾d. £17 18s.d. £17 19s. 11¼d. £14 4s.d.

[Pg 202]

These tables are also valuable on account of the light they throw upon the organisation of the bookbinding trade in the middle of last century. It will be seen for instance that the week indicated by "October 11" in Table I was a specially busy week, and that in consequence the payments made to the home workers were much above those made for September 6th or 13th. Under September 6th, twenty-eight home workers were engaged, and next week thirty-nine, but under October 11th the number had risen to fifty-seven. It is also worthy of note that E. Such was an indoor worker under October 11th, but a home worker during the other two weeks, whilst M. A. Joyce worked at home in the third week, but in the workshop during the other two. This condition of disorganisation has now fortunately almost disappeared from the trade.

It should also be noted that slight errors of a few farthings in the additions have crept into the totals of some of the columns, but as they do not affect the accuracy of the wage figures the Appendix has been copied exactly as it was published.


1. Looker-over (time, 14s. 6d.).

3. Folder and Sewer (piece).


1896. Dispatch (piece).


TABLE from Census, 1901, stating the number of males and females employed in the trades enumerated at various ages in England and Wales, and showing that the number of females employed between 15 and 20 is nearly twice as great as at any other age.


Unmarried Married
10 -163--163335
14 -378--378616
15 -2,995153,0103,079
20 -1,8142242,0382,328
25 -8565041,3603,583
35 -3015648652,504
45 -1244465701,690
55 -56289345897
65 -1595110277
75 and


Unmarried Married
10 -19--1957
14 -21--2190
15 -97198396
20 -41546290
25 -221840520
35 -72128365
45 -41923202
55 -17881
65 -03328
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -84--8436
14 -297--297107
15 -1,92111,922811
20 -1,237411,278709
25 -6031077101,209
35 -18556241732
45 -5554109483
55 -152843217
65 -2101265
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -103--1035
14 -254--25413
15 -1,276--1,27672
20 -6542668062
25 -3399843784
35 -999819776
45 -417411533
55 -22365818
65 -716237
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -780--780144
14 -1,727--1,727192
15 -10,0625110,113784
20 -5,3426285,970476
25 -2,3041,3393,643714
35 -5471,0941,641481
45 -171724895304
55 -58271329144
65 -99110065
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -88--88107
14 -168--168138
15 -1,13941,143676
20 -68736723516
25 -330874171,097
35 -7363136796
45 -245377617
55 -82533381
65 -01111169
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -394--3941,309
14 -988--9883,362
15 -4,89874,90518,692
20 -1,999762,07515,360
25 -73012085026,051
35 -14611225816,155
45 -42651079,514
55 -2156774,584
65 -423271,256
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -35--3597
14 -97--97243
15 -51845221,721
20 -198212191,616
25 -91201112,966
35 -1912312,022
45 -512171,170
55 -3710616
65 -011214
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -364--364108
14 -1,204--1,204311
15 -7,623207,6432,107
20 -4,3102224,5321,933
25 -2,1906532,8433,146
35 -6476921,3392,340
45 -2915258161,575
55 -101250351811
65 -3083113281
75 and----


Unmarried Married
10 -8--817
14 -31--3132
15 -97--97237
20 -30--30187
25 -11213345
35 -112216
45 -101141
55 -10175
65 -00035
75 and



Apprenticeship, 55-62


Birmingham, Trades in, 179-183

Blackbordering Described, 12

Bond, Mrs., 38

Bookbinders' Agreement, 7-9

Bookbinders and Tea Half-hour, 31

Bookbinding Described, 3

Bookfolders' Union, 38

Bookfolding, 3

CENSUS FIGURES, 17-21, 203

Character in Relation to Work, 11, 67, 85

(footnote), 111

Children's Employment Commission, 1862-66 ... 69-71

Compositors, Women:

Apprenticeship, 62

Birmingham, 179

Edinburgh, 29, 45, 47

(footnote), 48

(footnote), 49

(footnote), 74

Glasgow, 172

Historical, 24-25

Legislation, 74, 75

London, 27-28

Miscellaneous Places, 46

Perth, 29, 45-46, 47

Work done by, 46, 47

Conditions of Employment, 1866 ... 69-71



Envelope-making Described, 11

FACTORY LAW. See Legislation.

Family Health and Women's Work, 112

See also Health

Family Life and Women Workers, 67, 102-106

"Folding-houses," 76-78


Girls v. Women, 53, 96

Glasgow, Trades in, 170-178

HEALTH, 10, 11, 16, 66, 88-89, 112

See also Sections under Typical Firms, 141-169

Home-work, 99-101, 152, 157, 176, 181

Nos. Employed, 21, 99

and Legislation, 75-76

and Machinery, 99, 148

and Organisation, 202

Hours in Glasgow, 171, 172, 175, 177, 178

Hours in Birmingham, 180, 181, 183

See also Sections under Typical Firms, 141-169


JOB HANDS, 3, 79, 137, 169

Wages, 137


Conditions before Legislation, 69-71, 84-86

Economic and Industrial Effects, 73-93, 147, 151, 166, 171, 179, 183

Employers' Opinions, 81-84, 91-93

Employees' Opinions, 84-86, 87

Forewomen's Opinions, 86

Home-work, 75-76, 101

Limitation of Employment, 75, 89

Machinery, 73-74

Married Women, 84

Nightwork, 71, 78, 80, 81, 82, 89, 152

Provisions of the Law, 71-73

Wages, 79, 90, 91

Want of Elasticity, 91-93

Women Compositors, 74

See also Overtime.

Letterpress Printing Described, 2

Lithography Described, 10

Health, 10

London Society of Compositors and Women, 26, 27-28

London Trades Council and Women, 36



Effect of Women's Labour upon, 46 (footnote), 97, 98

Effect on Women's Employment, 1, 48, 94-98, 148, 157, 160, 161, 162, 165, 167, 169, 173, 182

Folding, 48, 94, 95, 182

Home Work, 99

Machine-ruling, 97

Paper colouring, 96

Re-introduction of Men's Labour, 95, 173

Sewing, 95

Stamping, 48 (footnote)

Typography, 96, 173

Manchester and Salford Society of Women Employed in Bookbinding, 40

Marriage as an Industrial Influence, 64, 67

Married Women as Workers, 84, 102, 106-112, 147, 151, 166, 168, 171, 175, 182

Family Health, 112

In Birmingham, 182

In Bristol, 110

In Leeds and Bradford, 111

In London, 108-109

Moral Influence, 111

Nos. Employed, 203

Wages, 106-108, 171, 175

Men and Women, 11, 44-52

As Competitors, 12, 14, 45, 49-52, 156, 168, 173

Bookbinders, 36, 38, 44 (footnote), 51, 175

Compositors, 25, 26, 45, 173-174

Division of Work between, 7-9, 11, 148, 152, 166, 175, 180

Effect of Machinery, 95, 96 (footnote)

Machine Rulers, 177

Men's View, 47, 173-174

Methods of Work, 81 (footnote)

Nightwork, 79, 88, 89

Paper Colouring, 97

Relative Skill, 46-47, 50, 52, 58


Nightwork, 14, 77, 79, 80, 81, 82, 84-86, 88, 89

See also Overtime.

Numbering Described, 10

Organisation of Women:

Bookbinders, 30-41

Compositors, 29, 41

Miscellaneous Trades, 41-42, 180

Women's Views upon, 42

Overtime, 78-79, 81, 82, 84-89, 146, 183

And Wages, 78, 87, 88

See also Nightwork.


Paper-bag Making, 101

Paper Making Described, 1

Paterson, Mrs. Emma, 36

Perforating Described, 10

Perth Dispute, 45

Piece Rates of Wages, 137

Premiums, 55, 56, 59-60, 62

Printers' Folding Described, 3

Prospects, See Sections under Typical Firms, 141-169


See also Sections under Typical Firms, 141-169


Show Card Mounting Described, 13

Society of Women Employed in Bookbinding, 36-38


Training for Women, 52, 53

Time and Piece Wages, 137

Trade Union Congress, Women at, 36, 37

Trade Unionism and Women:

Attitude of Bookbinders, 30-32

Conflicts with Compositors, 25-30, 179

See also Organisation of Women

Training for Women, 55-68, 144, 149, 153, 165, 167, 170, 179, 180

Lack of and Marriage Prospects, 64

Typefounding Described, 14

Typical Firms, Conditions in, 141-169

Typographical Association, 25, 26, 47

Scottish, 29, 45, 173


WAGES 113-137

Birmingham, 179, 180, 181, 182

Bookbinders' (1834-50), 33-35, 196-202

Earnings of Individuals, 136-137, 184-195

Effect of Legislation upon, 79, 90

1840-1890 ... 91 (footnote)

1866 ... 90

1885-1900 ... 134

Glasgow, 171, 172, 174-175, 176, 177, 178

How far Supplementary, 103-106

Kept up Without Unions, 41

Learners, 55-62

Married Women's Influence upon, 106-108, 171, 175

Men's and Women's, 47 (footnote)

Time and Piece Rates, 137

Why Low, 46, 50-51, 105

Women v. Boys, 15, 47, 50

Women's Competitors, 11

See also Men and Women; Women v. Boys; Girls v. Women.

Women Compositors.

See Compositors, Women.

Women Workers, Number, 17-23, 203

Ages of, 203

Ambition, 11, 64, 65, 66

Domestic Sphere Predominant, 67

Gentility, 67

Irregularity, 50, 66

Women's Work, Characteristics of, 51, 63-64

End of Project Gutenberg's Women  in the Printing Trades., by Various


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