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‘Asking for help. A petition to the City Council from Fifty Seven Women’ | Reprint from a 1903 Texas Pandemic

In light of today’s pandemic and as many Texas cities go under lockdown, Section 44 reprints a petition authored by domestic workers in Laredo, TX on October 19th, 1903 in the Laredo Daily Times. The border town fell under army-enforced quarantine during that year’s yellow fever epidemic, inducing many local elites to flee, taking their wealth with them. In these extraordinary conditions, women workers for whom English was not their first language intervened and confronted local authorities, making and winning demands for social provision. We hope their bravery and leadership find their way into our present. For more see ‘On Epidemics and Quarantines: Lessons from Latinx History‘ by John Mckiernan-Gonzalez published at The Latinx Project. — Seth Uzman

We, the undersigned, being mostly widows with families to support with our own hands, would represent that on account of the pest which has most unfortunately attacked our city, most of the well-to-do families that have given us employment in doing their washing, ironing, sewing and etc., have left the city; that since then we have been unable to find any work and we have been thrown suddenly wholly on our own feeble resources, with large families to support and no means of doing so. Hence we humbly petition the Honorable Mayor and the Board of Aldermen either aid us in obtaining work or to furnish us means with which to support ourselves and our families while this epidemic lasts.

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