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Les ouvrières des salines de Salins (Jura), XVe-XVIIIe siècles

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  • Paul Delsalle

Abstract

[eng] At the end of the Middle Age and during the following centuries, feminine activity especially in the textile industry is well known. Less attention was paid to other industrial sectors, saltworks among others, where sometimes numbers of women also worked. They, in no way were peasant women whose services would, on a temporary basis, have been hired, but real full time salaried employees. The rousing archives of the saltworks in Salins-les-Bains, in the Mountains of Jura, enable to the study of the female wage earners up to the end of the XVIIIe century. That raises the issue of the "wage earner" or "unskilled worker's" definition and status. These quite vague terms hire a wide range of feminine jobs, and especially sometime very surprising specializations and responsibilities. In this saltwoks in Salins, the female wage earner lot is one of the most peculiar that one can imagine. The situation is very different compared to other well known European saltworks. In Salins, women were quite numerous and, moreover, some of them hold during several ten consecutive years a position of responsibility inside the big plant. One can notice the almost hereditary nature of some task or offices and, also the existence of a pension payment system. It certainly was not much, but at that time just a few number of corporations would offer such conditions to female workers. [fre] À la fin du Moyen Âge et aux siècles suivants, l'activité féminine est notoire, surtout dans l'industrie textile. On a moins prêté attention à d'autres secteurs industriels, notamment celui des salines, où l'on trouve des femmes, parfois en grand nombre. Il ne s'agit aucunement de paysannes qui, de façon temporaire, pourraient louer leurs bras mais de véritables salariées à plein temps. Les archives exceptionnelles des salines de Salins, dans le massif du Jura, permettent l'étude des ouvrières jusqu'à la fin du xviiT siècle. Elles soulèvent surtout la question de la définition et du statut de «l'ouvrière» ou de la «manœuvre». Derrière ces termes assez vagues se cache une grande variété d'emplois féminins, mais surtout des spécialisations et des responsabilités parfois très surprenantes. Le sort de la femme ouvrière dans cette saline de Salins est un des plus singuliers qu'on puisse imaginer. La situation est très différente de celle observée dans d'autres salines d'Europe. À Salins, les femmes sont présentes en grand nombre dans la saline et, de surcroît, certaines d'entre elles occupent des postes de responsabilité au sein de la grande usine, pendant plusieurs dizaines d'années consécutives. On y observe la quasi-hérédité de certaines charges ou offices, et même l'existence d'un système de versement de pensions. C'est peu de chose, certainement, mais les entreprises offrant cela, surtout aux femmes, sont alors très rares.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul Delsalle, 2006. "Les ouvrières des salines de Salins (Jura), XVe-XVIIIe siècles," Histoire, économie & société, Programme National Persée, vol. 25(1), pages 15-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:prs:hiseco:hes_0752-5702_2006_num_25_1_2578
    Note: DOI:10.3406/hes.2006.2578
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