Barry McNamara  |   Published September 03, 2015

Labor Day Lecture

Ciani to speak about female workers in the Progressive Era

Female laborers and their status during Progressive Era society will be the topic of Monmouth College’s 8th annual Labor Day Lecture on Sept. 7.

Sponsored by the college’s history department, the free lecture will be presented at 7 p.m. in the Whiteman-McMillan Highlander Room of Stockdale Center.

Kyle Ciani, a historian from Illinois State University, will deliver the lecture, which is titled “Daily Grinds: Day Workers, Girl Problems and Women Adrift in Progressive Era American Cities.” In particular, she will address the fear that working women had become adrift during a time when respectable women were expected to marry, stay home and raise children.

Ciani will include the story of how organizations such as the YWCA tried to help these “lost women” through the establishment of boarding houses, chaperoned dances and other attempts to guarantee respectability. Strategies such as these, Ciani explains, helped provide stability for some workers but designated others as tragic targets of ill repute or, worse, sexual delinquents.

Ciani has written several articles about women and work and is the author of the forthcoming book Children in Paradise: The Boundaries of Reform in San Diego, 1850s-1940s.

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