From 1913 to 1917, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Bulletins included a separately numbered series entitled the “Women in Industry Series”; this series is among the 4,000+ BLS items available on FRASER. These bulletins provide a wealth of data and information, as well as a snapshot of what life was like in the early twentieth century for women in the U.S. workforce.

Bulletin No. 122, No. 3 in the series from May 1913, is “Employment of Women in Power Laundries in Milwaukee: A Study of Working Conditions and of the Physical Demands of the Various Laundry Occupations.” This particular Bulletin provides information gleaned from 554 women working in the 31 power laundries then operating in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

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Cover image from Obenauer, Marie L. Employment of Women in Power Laundries in Milwaukee: Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 122. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1913.

 

Bulletin No. 122 includes an in-depth analysis of the subject matter, including pictures and charts such as the one below presenting information on the national origin and marital status of the women workers.

 

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Chart from Obenauer, Marie L. Employment of Women in Power Laundries in Milwaukee: Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 122. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1913.

 

The Women in Industry Series included discussions of hours and earnings of women by city, information on the working conditions of women and children in peacetime and during war, and investigations into specific industries in which women were employed.

After many years of requests from both the BLS and women’s groups, Congress established and funded the Women’s Bureau in 1918.[1] The Women’s Bureau conducted studies and expanded on the work initiated by the BLS in the Women in Industry Series.

[1] Goldberg, Joseph P. and William T. Moye. The First Hundred Years of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Bulletin of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, No. 2235. Washington, DC: United States Department of Labor, 1985.

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