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The
study of working- class literature, including working- class women’s lit-
erature, inevitably presents the researcher with a problem of archives. This
is certainly true in the United States, where the exceptionalist skepticism about
class generates uncertainty about the existence of class (as) culture. Although
the digitization of many textual sources, including periodicals, has increased
accessibility and broadened the textual field, the material relevant to my study
has remained difficult to locate. Take, for instance, the genre of working- class
autobiography— a popular form of writing for working- class autodidacts and
activists. In Britain, facilitated by John Burnett, David Mayall, and David Vin-
cent’s exhaustive research and compilation of the three- volume bibliography
The Autobiography of the Working Class (1984–89), hundreds of working- class
autobiographies have been gathered in archives, republished, and digitized, an
effort that has fostered the production of a robust critical scholarship. In the
United States, however, the collections remain to be assembled, the critical stud-
ies remain to be written.1 The ephemerality of cheap print that constituted the
Postscript. Looking for Antebellum Workingwomen
Memory is all we got. . . . We got to remember everything. . . .
We got to remember to be able to fight. . . . Nobody can be forgotten. . . .
The last thing they take is memory. —Meridel Le Sueur, The Girl
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