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Putting Their Hands on Race:

Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers

Putting Their Hands on Race: Irish Immigrant and Southern Black Domestic Workers offers an important labor history of 19th and early 20th century Irish immigrant and US southern Black migrant domestic workers. Drawing on a range of archival sources, this intersectional study explores how these women were significant to the racial labor and citizenship politics of their time.

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Winner of 


Women’s Studies 


Whaley Prize

“This interdisciplinary project makes important contributions to whiteness studies, African American Studies, Women’s Studies, and labor history.”

—Beverly Guy-Sheftall, co-author of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities

“Deeply researched and theoretically sophisticated, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in labor history.”

—Premilla Nadasen, Author of Household Workers Unite: The Untold Story of African American Women who Built a Movement

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Nannie Helen Burroughs:

A Tower of Strength in the Labor World

Nannie Helen Burroughs establishes Burroughs as one of America's most influential labor leaders in the twentieth century... It also establishes Burroughs and her colleagues in the National Association of Colored Women as the architects of an unprecedented labor movement.

" In this pioneering text, Burroughs emerges as an influential labor philosopher/organizer and one of the most passionate, unrelenting advocates for the economic rights of Black women, especially domestic workers and others victimized by race, gender, and class discrimination in various workplaces." 

Beverly Guy-Sheftall, founding director, Women's Research & Resource Center, Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies, Spelman College

"A groundbreaking testament to the indomitable spirit of Nannie Helen Burroughs, this meticulously researched and masterfully written book by Phillips-Cunningham captures the extraordinary life and tireless efforts of a fearless advocate for African American women and workers' rights."

—Kelisha B. Graves, Virginia State University, editor of Nannie Helen Burroughs: A Documentary Portrait of an Early Civil Rights Pioneer,


“Phillips-Cunningham’s book is a tremendous achievement. Well-written, exhaustively researched, and provocatively framed, it will recast historical understandings of the history of US education, the Black women’s club movement, labor, the Black Baptist church, the Black Arts movement, and Black women's friendships and relationships outside of nuclear families through the first half of the 20th century."

—Annelise Orleck, author of Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty

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