Women as book producers
: the case of Nuremberg

  • Jessica Jade Farrell-Jobst

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (PhD)


This thesis explores the multifaceted roles in which women participated in the early modern book trade. Focusing on Nuremberg, home to many successful bookwomen, it examines how they crafted work identities and exercised agency in the printing trades, emphasizing the centrality of the family unit. This thesis reveals that not only were women involved in the book trade more frequently than hitherto acknowledged but that their participation was varied and often invisible. Locality is key to understanding the multitude of factors that both promoted and restricted women’s work. The thesis begins by reconstructing the Nuremberg print trade, looking at the local market, censorship, and patron demands that shaped it. These considerations dictated the occupational experiences and business practises of the bookmen and bookwomen working in the trade. Chapter two explores the specific gendered and legal realities women faced while engaged in this trade. Regional marriage customs, inheritance law and guild organizations defined women’s rights to property, work and legal sovereignty. The second half of the thesis presents two case studies. Drawing on a previously unexamined collection of archival sources, the first study explores the sixteenth-century careers of Katherine Gerlachin and Catherine Dietrichin, and how they actively forged work identities separate to that of wife or widow. The second case, from the seventeenth century, inspects the Endter family business, revealing that, even when not listed on imprints, women served crucial roles in larger familial enterprises. Taken together, these chapters demonstrate that women’s work can only be fully revealed by understanding that the early modern book trade was composed of family units in which women operated as vital members. As mother, wife and daughter, women took on the jobs of craftsmen, office managers, business leaders, shareholders, investors, or a combination of these tasks to play major roles in their familial businesses.
Date of Award16 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of St Andrews
SupervisorAndrew Pettegree (Supervisor)

Access Status

  • Full text embargoed until
  • 14 December 2026

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