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Domestic Maids in the 1930's
Transcript of Domestic Maids in the 1930's
The Average Life of a Domestic Maid
- Work 14-16 hours a day
- Sleeps in employers home
- Allowed to go home once every two weeks
- Feeds, bathes, and tends to baby
- Playmate to other children
- Does any task that the employers ask of her
- No church or entertainment
- Paid $10/ month
Peacolia Barge : Growing Up Black in the 1930's
- Born in 1923
- Lived in McCulley's Quarters in Bessemer, Alabama
- McCulley's Quarters was about one block in area containing mostly two room houses with no electricity and had a barber shop, blacksmith shop, and grocery store
- As a child, she played house, read, and visited with neighbours, and she could only wear dresses her mother made her
In conclusion, while many people may believe that working as a domestic maid in the 1930's is a good job, there are many misconceptions about their treatment.
The Ugly Truth
- The employer's husband may take advantage of the maids
- Resisting can get them fired, and leave them with a bad reputation
- Wives may know it is happening, but allow it to keep the husband faithful outside of the home
- May recieve extra money and time off
- Men may have two families
- Domestic workers must protect themselves, and cannot have outside help
- Keep their jobs regardless of bad treatment and unfair pay
- High demand for low-wage work
- If you became homeless, you were forced into work for no pay
- Must go door to door to look for work
- Cannot risk having a bad reputation
Finally, in 1968, The National Domestic Workers Union was formed by Dorothy Bolden in order to set standards for the salary and benefits that these women recieve for their jobs.
Their Only Option
- They are not addressed with respect, but called 'cook' or 'nurse'
- They do not have any training, and must use what they know
- Loyal to the families they work for
- Could only be associated with white people if they are working for them
Best with a Bad Situation
- The most a family makes is $24/month
- Spends money on rent, clothes, and food
- Takes home left-overs to feed their family
- Mutual agreement that they can take home ingredients, soap, etc.
- Oldest children get jobs to help out
- After staring school, Peacolia realised she wasn't allowed to go to
some parks or swim in some places
- There were no hospitals for African-Americans, only a couple would take them into the basement where the black doctor could take care of them, not being allowed to practice in the white hospital. Many black workers chose to treat their own wounds and pull their own teeth instead of seeing a white doctor, as they could be at risk of abuse
- Jobs available to women included: domestic work, laundering, cooks, maids, nurses and teachers
- Men had more opportunities being allowed to work as brick layers, delivery boys, carpenters, and in the factories and mines. Some were even tailors and others could operate elevators. They also could work as principles, preachers and doctors.
- Pay was about $3-4 a week
-Most were uneducated. If parents could afford it, children that showed promise to be a good student were sent to churches that maintained schools in the country.
Education & Employment
- Many were forced to ride buses. Tickets were bought at the front of the bus, but entrance was at the back. A sign marked the end of the white section and the beginning of the African-American, and if more white people got on, their section would be made bigger
- Ms. Kate, a white woman, kept up with the people in the neighbourhood and what was going on in their lives and would help when there was sickness or a death in one of the African-American families.
- When asked if even after the difficulties she had lived with in the south, if she would put all white people into the same category, she answered with “No, you shouldn't put people into categories. Many of those bus drivers treated us badly. We disliked them and made fun of them behind their backs. But some of them were good men who were polite and considerate and would even hold the bus for us when they knew we were late. No, not all black people are the same and not all white people are the same.”
Her Opinion on Segregation
Slaves vs. Domestic Workers
Domestic workers could quit their job where slaves could not
In the 1930's there were around 1.6 million domestic workers, which was 1 quarter of the female workforce
Most of these workers were african american women who were employed by rich white families to do the work they didn't want to do
Got paid $10 a month and got every second Sunday off
Orphans were trained so that they could be taken in by a family to work for them
In 1901 a news reporter went undercover to work as a domestic worker.
While she was there she would work long 15 hour days where she did everyday household chores except laundry because it got sent away.
She got paid $2.75 a week and was given a room to stay in
- The Great Depression caused jobs to be scarce
- African-Americans had an unemployment rate that was 2 or 3 times larger than white people
- This forced people to take on low-paying, strenuous jobs, which usually involved them acting as servants
- Many misconceptions about domestic work