"Working with the Working Woman" - Cornelia Stratton Parker - Harper's

Reportage

Description

Cornelia Stratton Parker engaged with low-wage earning women in six different jobs so she could "see the world through their eyes" and for the time being, close her own. Her six-part series appeared in Harper's Magazine between June and December of 1921 and as a book, published by Harper Brothers, the following year.

Media History

The reporting was intended for these media types: Magazine, Book

Effects and Outcomes

Wrote Parker in the introduction to her book: "The experiences lived through in the following pages may strike the reader as superficial, artificial. In a way they were. Yet, they fulfilled their object in my eyes, at least. I wanted to feel for myself the general 'atmosphere' of a job, several jobs. I wanted to know the worker without any suspicion on the part of the girls and women I labored among that they were being 'investigated.' I wanted to see the world through their eyes -- for the time being to close my own altogether.
"There are no startling new facts or discoveries here recorded. Nothing in these pages will revolutionize anything. To such as wish the lot of the worker painted as the most miserable on earth, they will be disappointing..."
Parker was one in a long line of women journalists, dating back at least to the 1880s, who posed as factory workers and in other low-wage positions to investigate conditions for women workers. Her predecessors include Helen Campbell, Nell Nelson, Nellie Bly, Elizabeth Banks, Eva Valesh, Rheta Childe Dorr, and the van Vorst sisters-in-law, Bessie and Marie, among others.

Articles, Books, Video/Film