Work and Communities
To work outside the home was a necessity for some women and a wish for others. Industrialisation, the specialisation of crafts and the extension of a public health and care system meant that women had more and better chances of finding a job.
In 1931 Jennie Jensen (born 1894) was left alone with her daughter Tove. They lived above ‘Hotel Jylland’ in Studsgade, where Jennie Jensen had a dressmaker’s workroom.
Through the years many single mothers have supported their families as seamstresses, a suitable trade, as they could keep their children with them. But it was a new development to be able, as Jennie Jensen was, to learn the trade at a special class in pattern making at the Technological Institute. In 1936 Jennie Jensen furthermore signed a contract with Spirella Corsettiere, which she kept until 1972, when, at the age of 78, closed both workroom and corset making. She died in 1990.
Only in 1931 did married women obtain the right to keep their trade licence after marriage, which enabled them to continue as independent businesswomen.
This meant that costumier Mrs. Ellen Storck (1899-1998) did not have to give up her business when she married. As a newly educated costumier, she had worked in a dressmaker’s workroom and sewed for wealthy families where she lived for one or two weeks at a time. In 1929 Ellen Storck opened her own dressmaking establishment in Århus. Later she was authorised to take apprentices and employed six assistants and six apprentices.
In 1944 the costumier trade was recognised as a craft guild and Ellen Stork became vice-president of the national league. When the Århus Costumiers’ Guild was founded in 1949 she was master of the guild, and continued until 1973 when the guild was dissolved. By then the tailors’ trade had largely been taken over by the mass production of the textile industry and the fashion houses’ unique creations.
Large families, tight dwellings and poor nutrition were characteristics of life in the 1930s, especially in the cities. The infant mortality rate was high. To change this, the bill of visiting nurses was passed in 1937. In that way children got their own care persons: visiting nurses.
It was a demanding job with long days. Often a nurse had 2-300 children to look after and each family received 18-20 routine house calls. The children were measured, weighed and observed, and the mothers instructed in the importance of the three main rules of caring for the infant - rest, cleanliness and regularity.
Today all municipalities and schools have a visiting nurse.
The folk high schools caught on with the youth during the 1930s, both in the country and in the cities. Large numbers of women attended gymnastics folk high schools such as Ollerup, Snoghøj and the Bertram School. Through the gymnastics lifelong friendships were established, kept fresh through shared diaries, which were sent around the circle of friends. Other women’s communities were created through scouts associations like YWCA and through the housewives’ leagues.