Ladies and Gentlemen of the Civil Service
Middle-Class Workers in Victorian America
( Oxford, April 1987 )
Drawing from workers' applications, testimonies, and other primary documents, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Civil Service recreates the white-collar world of middle-class workers from the Civil War to 1900. It reveals how men who worked in federal agencies moved from being self-employed to salaried workers, in the process placing at risk the independence that lay at the core of middle-class male values; while women assumed the kind of independence that threatened their positions as delicate, middle-class ladies deserving the protection and care of men. Introducing a cast of characters who worked as federal clerks in Washington, Arons examines the nature of being a civil servant--from the hiring, firing, and promotion procedures, the motivations for joining the federal workforce, and the impact of feminization on the workplace to the interpersonal aspects of office life such as attitude towards sex, manners, and money-lending--and provides an imaginative look at what it meant to be among the ladies and gentlemen who formed part of the first white-collar bureaucracy in the United States.