Women of Courage

Jewish and Italian Immigrant Women in New York

by Rose Laub Coser, Laura S. Anker, Andrew J. Perrin


Explores a series of questions about the family and work lives of Italian and Jewish women who immigrated to New York City in the early 1900s.

Print Flyer
Cover image for Women of Courage

August 1999


Pages 176
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Women's Studies/General

In the wake of World War I, a diverse group of women emigrated from Europe to the United States under austere conditions and adapted in different ways to life in the new country. Based on a major new study that includes in-depth interviews with 100 Italian and Jewish women who immigrated to the New York City area in the early 1900s, this volume explores family and work lives led by these women and the relative importance of cultural factors to the two groups' adjustment to American life. The interviews trace the process of adapting to life in the U.S., paying special attention to the specific experiences of women immigrants and the challenges they faced in surmounting gender and cultural barriers both within their families and in their new communities. This innovative, interdisciplinary study uses feminist approaches to explore immigrant women's lives from childhood to old age. The result is a nuanced view of the similarities and differences between the two groups, whose distinct family structures and cultural backgrounds led to different responses to the same pressures and difficulties.

Table of Contents

IntroductionLeaving for AmericaThe Unknown FutureFamily Structure: Some Theoretical ConceptsFertility and Social StructureHome LifeComing to America?: Work as a Motive for MigrationWomen and Work in the "Golden Medina"Work, Unions, and Identity: "To Make for Herself a Person"Appendix: List of Interviewees



[A] vivid picture of Jewish and Italian women's adjustment to the new way of living in the United States....important for both women's history and women's studies.—MultiCultural Review

[T]he authors have gathered material that will help us unravel women's experiences after mass immigration ended-years that have attracted far too little attention up to now.—International Migration Review

^IWomen of Courage^R goes far in filling a remaining gap in the literature on immigrant women's lives and experiences....The strength of the book and its primary contribution resides in the 100 richly textured, original life-history interviews....^IWomen of Courage^R is a welcome addition to the body of literature on both Italian and Jewish immigrant women in America. With its original and detailed information on the experience of work and family in women's own words, the book will be of value to scholars in many discipline's, including gender studies, demography, history, sociology, and American Studies.—American Jewish History

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

Rewriting the Word cover imageEthnicity and Gender in the Barsetshire Novels of Angela Thirkell cover imageGender and Genre in Gertrude Stein cover image
Untying the Tongue cover imageScheherazade's Sisters cover imageA History of Popular Women's Magazines in the United States, 1792-1995 cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips