external image washerwomen%201.jpgEvent Summary


Atlanta Washerwomen Strike, 1881 from AFL-CIO

  • 3000 Black washerwomen--and some whites--went on strike in the summer of 1881 for better wages, respect and a uniform pay rate.
    • Organized by 20 women who formed the Washing Society of Atlanta
    • Washerwomen also organized strikes in Jackson, Mississippi (1866) and Galveston, Texas (1877)
    • Washing clothes was backbreaking work
      • Using a washtub and washboard, women would heat water in a large pot, used homemade lye soap to clean the clothes, and then hang them on a clothesline to dry, a process that could take all day


African American Laundry Women Go on Strike in Atlanta from American Social History Project

Black Women Advance Labor's Cause in an Unlikely Setting: 1881 Atlanta

The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta, 1880-1910, from American Historical Association



Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 11.29.04 AM.pngBook Review of To Joy My Freedom: Southern Black Women's Lives and Labors after the Civil War, Tora. W. Hunter, 1997


primary_sources.PNGThe Negro Washerwoman, A Vanishing Figure. Carter G. Woodson, Journal of Negro History (July 1930)