Although notary records from Galicia provide a fairly large pool of material for the study of various aspects of economic life in that province in the late 19th century, they do not offer us anything like a clear picture of women's participation in the economy. And anyway, the data which refer to the latter sphere are usually restricted to the economy of marriage and the family. The characteristically cumulative nature of notary records is best suited to quantitative analyses of individual economic decisions in the field of property transfers and capital flows (especially in the credit market). At the same time the economic activities of women are much more difficult to assess. This article presents the results of a poll-survey analysis refined with the help of statistical techniques of computerized records of the year 1881 and 1901 from the notary offices in Rzeszów, Przeworsk, and Dobromil. The picture of economic life which can be reconstructed on that basis is of course incomplete in so far as our sources cover only those aspects of entrepreneurial activity that required the official stamp to come into force. Women sought the services of the notary public less often than men, husbands or otherwise (30-40%). Nonetheless, there are good reasons to presume that some married women had a hand in their husbands' trade or business but stood back when it came to formalities. On the whole, however, economically active women must have been in the minority. Our sources suggest that the vast majority of women embraced the traditional role of wife and mother, and worked exclusively within the bounds of the household and the family. This type of lifestyle was the norm among women from the country. Against this background the cases of women who ran independent businesses appeared quite exceptional. These women usually traced their origin to the landed gentry, or, in the case of the Rzeszów sample, to the lower middle class. In most cases they were the sole owners of the business; in those cases where it was held jointly the co-owner was usually a man.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.