Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960

Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens: Domestic Workers in the South, 1865-1960

by Rebecca Sharpless
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

As African American women left the plantation economy behind, many entered domestic service in southern cities and towns. Cooking was one of the primary jobs they performed, feeding generations of white families and, in the process, profoundly shaping southern foodways and culture. Rebecca Sharpless argues that, in the face of discrimination, long workdays, and low

Overview

As African American women left the plantation economy behind, many entered domestic service in southern cities and towns. Cooking was one of the primary jobs they performed, feeding generations of white families and, in the process, profoundly shaping southern foodways and culture. Rebecca Sharpless argues that, in the face of discrimination, long workdays, and low wages, African American cooks worked to assert measures of control over their own lives. As employment opportunities expanded in the twentieth century, most African American women chose to leave cooking for more lucrative and less oppressive manufacturing, clerical, or professional positions. Through letters, autobiography, and oral history, Sharpless evokes African American women's voices from slavery to the open economy, examining their lives at work and at home.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Sharpless offers an in-depth and complete portrait of African American cooks and the nature of their work and lives in this period. The cooks' voices are very compelling, and Sharpless does a good job of letting them largely speak for themselves.—Oral History Forum

A fascinating examination of black women's domestic employment as they transitioned from being slaves to being free laborers.—The North Carolina Historical Review

An intriguing account of the personal and public lives of African American domestic workers from Reconstruction to the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement.—Southern Cultures

Well written, painstakingly researched, and carefully situated in the scholarly literature about foodways . . . . A rich and much needed addition." —Florida Historical Quarterly

A fresh and engaging read.—Journal of Southern History

The robust descriptions of cooks' day-to-day tasks, their relationships with employers, and personal lives enrich the literature on domestic workers by drawing attention to specializations within the domestic-work labor market.—Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Sharpless labors to fill a pantry with stories from the legion of southerners who experienced a remarkable slice of American history.—Ohio Valley History

Sharpless presents a visceral and engaging account of each passing moment in the day of an African-American cook.—Georgia Historical Quarterly

Expertly details the changes in African American women's economic and employment opportunities from emancipation until the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. . . . [A] fine work.—Journal of Social History

[An] excellent new history of African American cooks in the U.S. South . . . . Sharpless's book offers a valuable model for labor historians, as it portrays work and life as inextricably linked but not mutually definitive.—American Historical Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781469606866
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
02/01/2013
Series:
The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture
Edition description:
1
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
388,000
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Anyone who wants to know the real story behind Kathryn Stockett's book The Help will savor Cooking in Other Women's Kitchens, Rebecca Sharpless's compelling history of southern domestic work. It's a riveting read and it's nonfiction.—Jessica B. Harris, Queens College, author of Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons: Africa's Gifts to New World Cooking

Meet the Author

Rebecca Sharpless is associate professor of history at Texas Christian University. She is author of Fertile Ground, Narrow Choices: Women on Texas Cotton Farms.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >