But What About the Women?

Many women found jobs in Norwood’s printing industry.  A 1909 article notes that the Norwood Press has a total of 625 employees, and of that number, 245 are women. Articles found in local newspapers about the printing strikes at the Norwood Press and the Plimpton Press, which happened during the early 1900s, note that men and boys walked out, and they do not mention women employees at all, and yet, we know the presses employed women.

Women in the Plimpton Press Bindery (from the collection of the Norwood Historical Society.)

In the industrial world, there were jobs for men and jobs for women. In the book making industry typical jobs for women would have been secretarial, proofreading, or working in the bindery. These jobs were considered appropriate for women, and men would have operated the machinery in the composition and printing departments. The Norwood Press, the Plimpton Press, and even at the modestly sized company, the Ambrose Press, all would have employed women in traditional female jobs.

Advertisement for a women proofreader.

If one looks hard enough, one can find Clara (Rich) Berwick-Walker, who was president of Berwick & Smith, and Jane (Comey) Williams, the director of the Personnel Department of the Plimpton Press, and almost nothing, except obituaries, about a women who worked on the floor of the companies. Whether the woman was the president, a manager, or a worker, the information on their time working for one of Norwood’s presses, is a line in an obituary saying they worked for company “X” for so many years. What is interesting, is that it appears that what women did, even if they were a trail blazer, does not appear to be worthy of writing about.

Women on the Front Lines –>

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