XII-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

XII-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

"One of the Fur-sewers"

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: January 9, 1887 | Publication: The New York Tribune | pages: 10

"My heart sunk then, for I 'd always had a place that was comfortable all my life, but it sunk deeper when I went up there. A hall bedroom, with a single bed an' a small table, with a washbowl an' small pitcher, one chair an' some nails in the door for hanging' things; that was all except a torn shade at the window. I looked at the bed. The two ragged comfortables were foul with long use. I thought of my nice bed down at Spring Street, my own good sheets an' blankets an' all, an' I began to cry.

" You don't look as if you was used to the likes of it,' Bridget said. 'There's another room the same as this but betther. Why not ax for it?'

"I started down the stairs an' came right upon Mrs. Melrose, who smiled as if she thought I had been enjoying myself.

"'I 'm perfectly willing to try an' do your work as well as I know how,' I said, ' but I must have a place to myself an' clean things in it.'

"'Highty-tighty!' says she. 'What impudence is this? You 'll take what I give you and be thankful to get it. Plenty as good as you have slept in that room and never complained.'

"'Then it's time some one did,' I said. 'I don't ask anything but decency, an' if you can't give it I must try elsewhere.'

"'Then you 'd better set about it at once,' she says, an' with that I bid her good-afternoon an' walked out.

Written in first person from the perspective of a young fur-sewer, Campbell illustrates how difficult it is for young women to find clean housing and respectable work.