Great Expectations: Women's Help Wanted Ads In Kansas City, 1920-1936
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The question of the nature of women’s paid work has been a frequent point of historical inquiry. Using a source previously only tapped quantitatively, this paper seeks to expand our understanding of how women’s employment was advertised for and viewed during the 1920s and 30s in the United States of America. This new source is Help Wanted and Situation Wanted ads (employees seeking work) from the Kansas City Star between 1920 and 1936. Kansas City is at once a typical midwestern city and also one with unique industries due to its important position in the national transportation network. The research looks at the ads qualitatively, as reflections of sentiments and requirements for certain jobs, as well as part of an active market, subject to all the cultural elements involved in analyzing product advertising. This paper confirms several impressions from other sources, but it also reveals the extent to which women’s employment included sales jobs and raises new questions about the avenues of women’s employment during the 1920s. Most of all, these new questions demonstrate the usefulness of this new source. In the final part of the paper, I outline ways to examine the sources quantitatively. Ultimately, newspaper Help Wanted ads are an untapped source with potential for confirming and building on other research topics that have long been understated, if not ignored entirely. Hopefully, this paper will serve as a demonstration of the value of further research into this valuable historical source.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Historical Context of the 1920s and 1930s -- Theory and Practice in the Roaring Twenties -- The Great Depression and Women's Help Wanted Ads -- Help Wanted ! A Source Analyzed -- Conclusion
M.A. (Master of Arts)