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Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  194 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
A powerful account of the changing role of American black women in the labor force and in the family.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published by Vintage Books USA (first published 1985)
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Professor Jacqueline Jones presents the extensively researched history of the dual working worlds of black American women–at home and in the workforce–from slavery to present. She highlights the ways in which the unique cultural history of slavery as well as being subject to both sexism and racism have impacted black American women’s lives.

I believe this nonfiction work suffers for two reasons. First, the scope is huge, overwhelming really. Jones attempts to condense and impart a huge amount of
Jaime Rispoli-Roberts
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In her book Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family, from Slavery to the Present, history professor Jacqueline Jones argues for the tension of black women's work for their families, communities and their work for whites. She describes this work as it is performed against the backdrop of political economy, as well as the social division of labor, particularly in terms of gender, but also by race. Jones discusses these forces as they shaped labor patterns of black women, ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting book but perhaps needed a different approach. With Labor Day coming up in the US this seemed like a good time to finally pick this up after seeing this on a list a year or two ago. The book looks at the role of black women in the US work force from slavery to the more recent day (this was first published in 1986 and that's the version I read). From the fields to domestic to work to entering the workforce to wartime to the more "modern" era this looks at black women and how their role ...more
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
Written in 1984, Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow covers roughly 150 years of labor and family history of black women in the United States. By focusing on work and family, Jones is able to address (among many other things) the disturbing continuities in black women's lives before, during, and after the Civil War as regards why they worked, for whom they worked, what the did, and how much they earned. However this story is also a heartening one about black women, over and over again, choosing to ac ...more
At first the book was very concise. It did what it said it would discuss in the first part: southern black women. Then in the second part which was to discuss Northern women, it went all other the place. It was constantly shifted from North to South. If you say you're going to do one part Southern only and the one part Northern only, then I expect that. I also don't agree with was the belief that the labor unions are what made business owners give their workers higher pay. I did however like how ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In essence, black women have not just stoically endured the inequities of the racial caste system; they have attempted, individually and collectively, openly and clandestinely, to transform the workplace and make it more responsive to their own and their households' needs. P. 323

In the absence of governmental prodding, at least some personnel officials will have little incentive to allow significant numbers of black women to penetrate the previously all-white sanctuaries of academic departments,
Oct 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: textbooks
The content of this book is extraordinary. It follows closely the circumstances of black women from pre-Civil War through to the 1980s. It does this without romanticizing their lives and without trivializing their struggles. However, the writing is dense and can sometimes be hard to get through. At several points, I found myself skimming through pages where I felt like I was being told the same story/information for the second, third, multiple time. At that point, some of the anecdotes cease to ...more
Kendra Lee
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a brilliant primer on institutional and systemic racism in America. It is NOT an easy read, though. Think a textbook for an African-American and/or Women's Studies college course. I am typically a fast reader. Not on this book. There is so much information to absorb. But, it did what a good text should do: it gave me new understanding and perspective, and it stoked my desire for more knowledge.
Doris Raines
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
It. Is. True. Slavery. Also. Came. In. Other. Flavors. Of. Course. That. Is. Not. Mentioned. Not. Only. In. One. Skin. Tone. But. Many. All. In. Our. Kool. Aide. And. Dont. Even. Know. The. Flavor.
Jul 08, 2010 added it
Lots of historical information about African American women. A little dry, but a must read for anyone studying Black Feminism.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive history of black women's labor from slavery to the present. Jones discusses labor in the rural and urban South as well as the North.
LaShonda Katrice Barnett
Dec 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If you can only read one book on black women and slavery, let it be this one.
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
historical documentation of black women in the family and their role as caregivers! An important read.
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