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Chapter 4 DOMESTIC SERVICE AND WOMEN OF COLOR IN THE UNITED STATES ‘Census figures reveal that the percentage of women employed in domestic work ‘women entering the occupation.‘ Caribbean and Latin American immigrant ‘women, Many of them undocumented workers, are employed in private house- ‘employers may expect their domestics to be Caribbean immigrants; they can expect to hire undocumented Latin American 0 typifies domestic service women of color to the status few York poignantly illustrates the distinctiveness and transparency of racial and ethnic stratification: n n Haldia the USA. -year-old daughter in a shopping cart through a supermarket in , and a litle white gil riding past in her mother's cat calls jgok, Mommy, a baby mai unt reflects our segregated social world—obviously the litle countered African American females only as maids. Although most ‘white women in public places asking them if they they needed 2 domestic.’ Martha Ci woman, understood the role expectation me, and you can see I'm black and you know domestic work is something I know about about me.” ‘This chapter investigates the situation of women of color in domestic service. ‘The first section presents « broad overview of historical wends and regional draws on an analytical scheme first employed by Lucy Salmon in 1897. She proposed three distinct historical phases: phase one started with English coloni- zation and extended to the Revolutionary War, phase two began with the Amer~ can Revolution and lasted to 1850, and phase three covered the period from 1850 to the 1900s.? Later analysts added a modem” period, from World War ‘to the present. These phases are di by the specific populations em- ployed as domestics, they draw attention to the race, class, and gender dynamics ‘operating in domestic service in the United States, HISTORICAL OVERVIEW. ‘The Colonial Period to the Civil War In the colonial period, indentured servants were drawn from England's poor, the ss, orphans, vagabonds, and criminals. Houschold laborers were hired including both agriculture and maintenance of the master’s home and family. Remarking on the nature of servitude in colo- nial America, Soraya Coley observed that “little discrimination [was] made be- Domest Service and Women of Color 2 tween the class of household servants and indentured servants, for household servants came under the same legal contracts and restrictions as did other inden- tures."* Consequently, the terms servant and slave were pretty much interchange- able, Masters frequently assumed total control over the behavior of their ser- vvants, including their leigure activities and marriages as well as their work tic and a services in the South resulted very, Summarizing census data from 1848, “slaves comprised 71 percent ofall manual labor- xe domestic and personal from the “peculiar Charles Johnson repor Taborers toward menial employment, furthermore, conspired with the traditional ‘of householders for a lasting tenure for their intimate ‘as house servants," For example, the Charleston census of 1848 reported that “over one-thitd of the adult domestic workers were men. But while domestic ‘work as a whole was not a sex-typed occupation for slaves, jobs within domestic service were commonly sex-typed.”® The allocation of chores depended upon ‘the owner’s wealth and plantation size. Relatively large plantations with many slaves divided the workers into field hands and house servants. In contrast, lizabeth Fox-Genovese addressed the compl slaves and mistresses by pointing out that Female slaves frequently labored in white households throughout to care for their own fami ‘Emancipation. A clear indication tejoatn of touseverk a nigger work” ‘Te fin words inthe Deelaton of Independence didnot apply 10 black women laboring under te yoke of slavery Atte same time that Back women More sxyecencg the mest ehumanirng misersenentarangemedt ine 1 of Ane, hoe, he een women we eve me Cgalovian employer employee interaction,” Lucy Salmon Vesried the ci vvtich wt born women performed domestic labor ‘ial De Tocqueville democracy fundamen- “How Democracy Af De Tocqueville believed that: jomestic service doesnot degrade the character of, De Tocqueville further claimed that, because the structural condi created an ascribed servant class for the aristocracy had been eliminated, the Domestic Service and Women of Color 5 id to become fully rational like ism: “masters require nothing of igorous performance of the covenant: they do do not claim their love or developed attach- domestic labor during tenth and ‘ere far more complex than those suggested by De Instead of withering economic classes and and submission, we find the proliferation ‘were effectively barred to people of color, to women, and most ‘women of cofot. For'some white women, domestic service was simy of life ora bridge tb better opportuni ‘One group of domestic workers was composed of ‘who worked as hired girls for short periods of time lies? incomes or to help a neighbor. Employee-employer relation native-born women and mistresses are perhaps best conceptualized as of community patterns of mutual aid. Room and board were offered compepsation, blurring the distinction between paid and unpaid h ‘Nancy'Cott accounted for “helpers” in the eighteenth and early ninet turies as “a funtion of age as much as economic need."® The aye Duden as a rela ‘The hired girl and the domestic represent unique workin, tions. Frequently, help was hired to sce the family through season, or temporary child care needs. Dudden distin, that the “work was organized more around task than time.” The experience of