French Women Worked!

French Women Worked!

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Fearless Females #12…Working Girl

When I wrote this post about my great grandmother, Brigitte Breilh’s career at the family French laundry, I had no idea that their was a long history of French women in my tree who worked.  It is no wonder that she took over the business when her husband died.

The women in my French tree have held many jobs.

My 5th great grandmother, Marie Lassalle, was a fileuse–a spinner.

My 4th great grandmother, Marie-Anne Maissonave, was a couteurier–a dress maker.

My 3nd great grandmother, Elisabeth Tiret, was an artisane–a craft woman.

Another 3nd great grandmother, Catherine Roquebert ditte Sallanave, was a cultravatrice–a farmer.

My 2nd great grandmother, Marie Anne Lacrouts was also a farmer.

Another 2nd great grandmother, Mathilde Laplagne Maucor was a dress maker.

There are also tisserands (weavers) in the tree and of course, laundresses.  Those laundresses in America worked alongside their husbands and some times ran the businesses themselves when necessary.

It’s not so much that these women held jobs.  We all know that woman whether worked hard, whether it was in the home or outside the home.  What has caught my interest is the fact that those occupations are written down in records.  I have many records for my other ancestors from Azorean church records to US census records.  Mostly what I see is laborer or peasant or even worse, the place for occupation is left blank.

It helps me round out the story of my French female ancestors to know that what their occupations were.  It makes me wonder if they sat down with their mother or other elderly female relative and was taught their craft.  Did they pick it up on their own or were they sent for apprenticeships?  Did the women who worked on farm work on the family farm or did they work in someone else’s fields?

It would be interesting to research women and their work in Southern France to find out what I could about the culture, the occupations, and the role of women as providers in the family.  Just the fact that some official wrote down their profession lends me to believe these roles were taken seriously.  Otherwise, it would just be another field left blank.


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