Photograph, Needleworker

This photograph illustrates a home needleworker in the streets of San Juan around 1903. At this time, and afterwards, almost all needlework was done at home. Working at home allowed women to negotiate their own contracts with agents, who commissioned certain types and styles of work. In the best situations, a talented worker could command a salary commensurate with her skill. In the worst situations, an agent could exploit women workers. Compare the working conditions here with other sources showing women's work in factories in the 1930s and 1940s.

Source: Martínez-Vergne, Teresita. Shaping the Discourse on Space: Charity and Its Wards in Nineteenth-Century San Juan, Puerto Rico. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1999.