Specialty hand-rolling factories in Key West and Tampa produced high-quality authentic Cuban-style cigars.
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Cuban society was not as rigidly segregated by race as in the southern United States. Cuban-Americans of all skin colors in Ybor City worked side by side in the cigar factories and belonged to the same social clubs.
In the 1890s, laws formalizing the segregation of public facilities and businesses, often called “Jim Crow” laws, spread throughout the South. The separation of jobs between white and black workers became more common, and certain specialized jobs became off-limits for black workers.
Jobs in the cigar factories were also sometimes segregated by gender. Some factories limited the most skilled positions to men. Women were often relegated to traditionally female jobs such as "stemmers," those removing the center stem from leaves, whereas men occupied other areas of cigar work such as selecting wrapper leaves.
However, small factories called chinchals employed men and women at all skill levels in order to maximize the work of fewer employees. Women became more commonly employed in skilled positions at large factories by the 1930s, although still working for lower wages.
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