From Angel to Office Worker


From Angel to Office Worker

Middle-Class Identity and Female Consciousness in Mexico, 1890–1950

Susie S. Porter

The Mexican Experience Series

372 pages
18 photographs, 11 tables, 3 graphs, 1 index


June 2018


$35.00 Add to Cart

June 2018


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2018


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

June 2018


$35.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

2019 Thomas McGann Award for best publication in Latin American Studies

In late nineteenth-century Mexico a woman’s presence in the home was a marker of middle-class identity. However, as economic conditions declined during the Mexican Revolution and jobs traditionally held by women disappeared, a growing number of women began to look for work outside the domestic sphere. As these “angels of the home” began to take office jobs, middle-class identity became more porous.

To understand how office workers shaped middle-class identities in Mexico, From Angel to Office Worker examines the material conditions of women’s work and analyzes how women themselves reconfigured public debates over their employment. At the heart of the women’s movement was a labor movement led by secretaries and office workers whose demands included respect for seniority, equal pay for equal work, and resources to support working mothers, both married and unmarried. Office workers also developed a critique of gender inequality and sexual exploitation both within and outside the workplace. From Angel to Office Worker is a major contribution to modern Mexican history as historians begin to ask new questions about the relationships between labor, politics, and the cultural and public spheres.

Author Bio

Susie S. Porter is an associate professor of history and gender studies at the University of Utah. She is the author of Working Women in Mexico City: Public Discourses and Material Conditions, 1879–1931 and the coeditor of Mexican History: A Primary Source Reader.


"This book is an excellent contribution to a variety of historiographies and would work well in a graduate seminar. It is also well written and well organized, making it a useful addition to undergraduate courses on labor history, women’s history, state formation, and Mexican history."—Nichole Sanders, H-LatAm

"This book will appeal to anyone interested in gender and labor history in the Americas."—Evan C. Rothera, Anthropology of Work Review

“In this fine study Porter contributes to our understanding of Mexico’s first-wave feminist movement. . . . She shows the close linkage between women and work in feminist programming that would, contrary to conventional scholarship, expand rather than wither in the immediate decades after 1940.”—Mary Kay Vaughan, coeditor of Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico

“Susie Porter demonstrates that labor was key to both the women’s movement and the emergence of a middle-class identity. This is a must-read for scholars of twentieth-century Mexico.”—Robert F. Alegre, associate professor of Latin American history and affiliated faculty in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of New England

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Graphs and Tables
List of Abbreviations
1. “Women of the Middle Class, More Than Others, Need to Work”
2. Office Work and Commercial Education during the 1920s
3. Writing and Activism in 1920s Mexico City
4. Women at Work in Government Offices in 1930s Mexico City
5. Commercial Education and Writing during the 1930s
6. Office Workers Organize during the 1930s
7. Women, Work, and Middle-Class Identity during the 1940s


2019 Thomas McGann Book Prize in Modern Latin American History

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