Women and the Work of Empire: Housewives, Servants, and Others in the Panama Canal Zone, 1904–1914

Lecture Description

This talk focuses on the world of women during the construction of the Panama Canal, 1904 to 1914. Thousands of women traveled to the Canal Zone from the United States and from across the Caribbean. Some came as working women, some as housewives supporting the work their husbands were doing for the Isthmian Canal Commission. Some came as reformers, assigned to investigate conditions in the Zone. Viewing the construction project through their eyes demonstrates not only the central role women played but also the ways their interactions with one another challenged or reinforced existing racial, class, and gender relations in the Canal Zone.


Labor and Working Class Women

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