Louder Than Words
Publication Date: 2009-01-15
"When trade guilds in France largely excluded women as members in their own right, the images in Diderot's Encyclopedie and other contemporary French sources reveal what the statutes and archives of the time obscure: that women played integral, essential, and varied roles in the worlds of craft, manufacture, and commerce." "Geraldine Sheridan, recognizing the need to recover the history of working women through alternative sources, employs period engravings to document and interpret how women contributed to the preindustrial process - as sources of power, as skillful workers, as finishers, and as managers of business. Sheridan draws not only from the Encyclopedie but also from the Descriptions des arts et metiers detailed studies of specific trades that incorporate engravings from as early as the 1690s. More than twenty plates prepared for the Descriptions but never actually published, along with original manuscript drawings, are gathered here for the first time for ready comparison." "As primary sources - documents in themselves - these images provide historical, cultural, and anthropological evidence illuminating the circumstances in which working women lived and died under the ancien regime."--BOOK JACKET.