Friday, May 1, 2020

Women's Work 1863 - US Women as Landscape Gardeners

Landscape Gardeners. 

"Mrs. R. often goes & looks at gardens, directs how to lay them out, & what to buy for them. She then orders the plants of others, & sells on commission, having them arranged according to her own taste, influenced by that of the purchaser. Her purchases are made of a German, living some distance from town, who can raise them cheaper than she could in the city. Her compensation, of course, varies greatly. 

"A landscape gardener writes : “ What a lady could do as landscape gardener at the West, I do not know. I am rather inclined to doubt her success at the East. It would require too much time & space to enter here into the details of what are required to constitute a landscape gardener: First, one must have a decided love for it, & a willingness to sacrifice much to the pleasure of the occupation. Nor can I say a great deal in favor of the profits. I have never been able to make a living by the profession, although I have often thought if I had gone to New York, or farther West, the case might have been different. In pages 381 & 382 of Country Life,' & in many other parts of the book, you will see what I consider essential to the making up & preparation of a landscape gardener, & better expressed than I can condense into a letter.”

"Mr. C., of Massachusetts, writes : “I have never known a lady to undertake the profession of landscape gardening; & much of the labor which I find it necessary to perform, would be impossible for a lady. Still, there is much in which female taste would find abundant field for exertion, if the labor could be so divided as to make it profitable. My first work  on any estate is to make an accurate topographical survey of the ground, &draw a plan of it in its natural state, & then proceed to make my designs for its arrangement; & when that is done, if required, I undertake the superintendence of the work at the ground. 

"A lady would have to employ a surveyor, in the first place, & would labor under many disadvantages in directing the operations upon grounds; &, to judge from my own experience, the business could not be made profitable under such circumstances. Loudon's 'Encyclop√¶dia of Gardening' will give the best directions I know of for the necessary operations of designing & executing plans, & Downing's work, with Sargent's appendix, comprises enough suggestions, on matters of taste, for the use of any person who is possessed of innate natural taste, without which I would advise no one to attempt to be a landscape gardener.”

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work by Virginia Panny Published Walker, Wise & Company, 1863

To read about women's changing roles in the 2nd half of the 19th century. see:
Boorstin, Daniel. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York:Random House, 1973.
Clinton, Catherine. The Other Civil War: American Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Hill and Wang, 1984.
Cott, Nancy. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.
Cott Nancy. History of Women in the United States, Part 6, Working the Land. New York: K. G. Saur, 1992.
Degler, Carl. At Odds: Women and the Family from Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Green, Harvey. The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Juster, Norton. So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America 1865-1895. New York: The Viking Press, 1979.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982
Mintz, Stephen and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1988.
Ryan, Mary P. Womanhood in America front he Colonial Times to the Present. New York: F. Watts, 1983.
Smith-Rosenberg, Caroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Strasser, Susan. Never Done: A History of American Housework. New York Pantheon Books, 1982.
Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions : the American Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Athens : Ohio University Press, 1976.