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Before their time : employment and family formation in a Northern textile town, Keighley, 1851-81.

Garrett, Eildh Macgillivray (1988) Before their time : employment and family formation in a Northern textile town, Keighley, 1851-81. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This thesis studies the phenomenon of low fertility amongst midto late- nineteenth century textile workers by examining fertility behaviour in the context of one contemporary textile town; the worsted centre of Keighley, in Yorkshire's West Riding. The high level of women's work, both before and after marriage, to be found in the textile districts has long been said to lie behind the low levels of fertility there. Using the census enumerators' books returned for Keighley in 1851,1861,1871 and 1881 the fertility levels and patterns of various occupational and class groups were calculated in order to assess the effects of the town's high level of female employment on its inhabitants' marital fertility. The measures used, however, are shown to give a distorted impression of fertility behaviour due to the point-in-time nature of the census data. With the aid of a computer Nominal Record Linkage was undertaken to gain a clearer picture of the family building strategies of different individuals, and various groups, over time. The patterns which emerge from the two types of analysis suggest that women in Keighley could, or would, not work when they had several children. They further suggest that the low fertility levels in the town during the early years of the study period were the result of younger married women not achieving a normal fertility potential, rather than older women limiting the number of their children in a parity specific way, which became an increasingly common practice by the 1880s. A debate is conducted as to whether the lack of fertility amongst young married women was deliberate in order that they might elongate their work-span, or whether it was the result of long years of work having adverse consequences for the female textile workers' reproductive systems.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > Geography (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.570316
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 10:01
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 10:01
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14582

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