Ladies and Gentlemen of the Civil Service: Middle-Class by Cindy Sondik Aron

By Cindy Sondik Aron

Drawing from employees' purposes, stories, and different fundamental records, Ladies and gents of the Civil Service recreates the white-collar global of middle-class employees from the Civil struggle to 1900. It finds how males who labored in federal enterprises moved from being self-employed to salaried employees, within the technique putting in danger the independence that lay on the middle of middle-class male values; whereas girls assumed the type of independence that threatened their positions as gentle, middle-class girls deserving the safety and care of guys. Introducing a forged of characters who labored as federal clerks in Washington, Arons examines the character of being a civil servant--from the hiring, firing, and merchandising approaches, the motivations for becoming a member of the federal staff, and the impression of feminization at the office to the interpersonal features of place of work existence comparable to angle in the direction of intercourse, manners, and money-lending--and offers an imaginitive examine what it intended to be one of the women and gents who shaped a part of the 1st white-collar paperwork within the United States.

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Calhoun, for example, applied for a clerkship in the Census Office in 1890 at the age of twenty-four. " Calhoun then spent, a year without any regular employment, except for a few month's work as a census enumerator. " It took four months of unemployment before he was able to find a place with an insurance company in Minneapolis. 68 Allen Fowler had been vice president and general manager of the Batchelder Egg Case Company, until the failure of the business led him into a variety of clerical jobs —one with an insurance company, one with an electric utility company, one with the Chicago Board of Trade, and one with the William Deeririg Harvester Works.

Many other men rationalized their actions by explaining that only the dearth of choices had driven them to Washington. Webster Elmes was typical: "I am compelled from present circumstances to seek a situation in one of the Departments at Washington.... In seeking an appointment of this nature I go contrary to my feelings and would much rather stay here in the practice of law and battle it. " * Elmes applied for work in 1861, close in time to the era when farmers, professionals, entrepreneurs, and artisans still defined the parameters of middle-class work in America.

Different from those federal clerks who had tried their hand at business or professional life and failed, these were The Gentlemen 29 primarily younger men just beginning their careers. Moreover, it was riot until the last two decades of the century that the attraction of government work became apparent to young middle-class men on the way up. Most assumed that their stay in government would be short, and they harbored varying plans for how best, to reap the benefits of federal employment. Young men with professional aspirations often saw a few years' stint in the bureaucracy as an ideal way to achieve their goal.

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