What was a woman’s life like during this period?

When the Tirocchi sisters arrived in the United States, they established a successful business and employed many other women. Customers in the shop were also primarily women. What did these three classes of women have in common, and what set them apart from one another? What can you say about their quality of life? Students attempt to weave these individual stories into a pattern. At the same time, primary and secondary sources of historical information should be used and compared for accuracy and relevance.


Students will select a woman from this period for research. They will be asked to gather general information on her, and create a portfolio containing the following:

Research materials on the ‘class’ of woman, reflecting the historical view. For example, for an immigrant working in the garment industry you might find information on the early labor movement and sweatshops.

Possible sources for research include:

  • Tirocchi people databases

  • Textbooks

  • School library

  • Public library and local resources

  • On-line searches

  • Family histories and relatives

  • National organizations, like the ILGWU and NOW


Personal stories. At least one oral history/interview should be required. Students may interview the woman they are researching, or someone similar from their family or neighborhood. Arrangements might be made with a local elder care center to gather stories from older women.

Literacy. Students should select an appropriate, related novel or short story dealing with a female character (see resources section for suggestions).

An artistic creation by or about women. Art reflects the artist’s culture. Students should locate art by women of this period, as well as art about women of this period. These should be contrasted and examined for the messages they impart.

Journal. Students should create a journal writing in the voice of the woman they are researching. It might take the form of letters to a correspondent, or a diary.

Group Activity:

At several checkpoints during this project, the teacher and group should gather to compare and share progress and discoveries. As the research and activities progress, a whole-group project should be chosen and the students begin working towards its completion. Examples might include:

  • Construct a collage of the women studied.

  • Work together to create a financial portrait of women of this time. How much did working women earn? What did things cost (like dresses, for example).

  • Work together to create a portrait of a woman’s day. How much time did they spend in various activities, like cooking, working outside the home, shopping, sewing, and so on. How does that compare to women today?

  • Create a hypertext presentation highlighting dramatic performances, research, and readings from student journals.


The Curriculum Guide
  Constructing History
  Educational Standards
  The Curriculum Activity
  Beginning the Unit
  Exercise One
  Exercise Two
  Exercise Three

  History Standards
Arts Standards


Susan Porter Benson's essay, "Clients and Craftswomen: the Pursuit of Elegance" from the Tirocchi Catalogue is one source of information about women in the Tirocchi era.