Betsy Israel’s Bachelor Girl (pbk. ed. here) takes us through the history of single women from the end of the 19th century through to the end of the 20th century. While most of her book deals with city girls, Manhattan in particular, it does suit the topic, since single women did flock to the big city.
You might think that single women in the past would share many of the human rights issues that faced all women and workers, but they do indeed have problems that affect them most directly. Can you imagine not being able to rent your own apartment? And of course, the general assumption, for years, that all single girls were whores.
I found this book to be very enlightening and for the most part encouraging, however the last chapter brought me down a bit. It’s a shame our society does still have its stigma about single women.