Thesis

The strength and vigor of the race: California labor law and race preservation in the Progressive era

Thesis (M.A., History ) -- California State University, Sacramento, 2009.

In 1911, California's Progressive legislature passed an act that limited a woman's working
 day in certain occupations to eight hours. The courts upheld the California Woman's Eighthour
 Bill on the grounds that a woman's role as the mother of succeeding generations was
 an objective of central importance to the state, which therefore justified a restriction of her
 employment. To protect the "strength and vigor of the race," court opinions and supporters
 of labor laws for women articulated a justification that was influenced by and used the language
 of the eugenics movement. The emphasis eugenicists placed on the meaning of
 motherhood and regulating reproduction, the importance of racial progress, and a belief that
 an unhealthy environment could have negative hereditary consequences were central ideas
 in the debate over restrictive labor legislation for women.

In 1911, California's Progressive legislature passed an act that limited a woman's working day in certain occupations to eight hours. The courts upheld the California Woman's Eighthour Bill on the grounds that a woman's role as the mother of succeeding generations was an objective of central importance to the state, which therefore justified a restriction of her employment. To protect the "strength and vigor of the race," court opinions and supporters of labor laws for women articulated a justification that was influenced by and used the language of the eugenics movement. The emphasis eugenicists placed on the meaning of motherhood and regulating reproduction, the importance of racial progress, and a belief that an unhealthy environment could have negative hereditary consequences were central ideas in the debate over restrictive labor legislation for women.

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