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Washday Blues: Charwomen and Washerwomen


The first thing women on the Mayflower did when they disembarked in America was the washing! Laundress and charwoman were the survival employments for any impoverished widow. Join Adele Emm for a social history of mangles, possers, dollies, washboards and flat irons.

In this talk, she tells us about: the Soap Tax and soap making; soapwort, bleach and starch - before Sunlight soap; Proctor & Gamble soap and candles; and Reckitt’s blue bags. We will then be taken on a journey from the impoverished laundress, to the middle-class servant with her copper, to stately homes and large laundries, all the way to the arrival of washhouses after the 1844 Act.

Mondays will never be the same again.

About the speaker:  Adele worked in television production and later taught media production. She now researches and writes full time specialising in media, social history and family history. Adele's most  recent  book is My Ancestors Worked in Textile Mills published in 2020 by the Society of Genealogists, plus Tracing your Trade and Craftsmen Ancestors and Tracing your Female Ancestors both published by Pen and Sword. 

You can read her blog and website at:

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