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Unprotected LaborHousehold Workers, Politics, and Middle-Class Reform in New York, 1870-1940$
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Vanessa H. May

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834770

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877906_may

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Encouraging the Good, Weeding Out the Bad, and Teaching the Ignorant: Women's Organizations and Domestic Workers in New York City, 1870–1915

Encouraging the Good, Weeding Out the Bad, and Teaching the Ignorant: Women's Organizations and Domestic Workers in New York City, 1870–1915

Chapter:
(p.72) Three Encouraging the Good, Weeding Out the Bad, and Teaching the Ignorant: Women's Organizations and Domestic Workers in New York City, 1870–1915
Source:
Unprotected Labor
Author(s):

Vanessa H. May

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807877906_may.7

This chapter shows how high the stakes were for middle-class women in the public debate over domestic service. Unless and until female employers confronted the labor problem festering in their kitchens, experts and public observers agreed, they had no business committing themselves to other benevolent reform missions. Inez Godman, a muckraking journalist who disguised herself as a domestic for a series of investigative magazine articles, pointed to the hypocrisy of a National Consumers' League member signing petitions demanding chairs for store clerks “when her own maid is on her feet for at least 11 hours a day out of a working day of 14.” Home economist and social worker Jane Seymour Klink sympathetically described the suffering of one domestic who was never allowed to go to church, although her “employer subscribes liberally to foreign missions.”

Keywords:   middle-class women, domestic service, Inez Godman, muckraking journalist, National Consumers' League, Jane Seymour Klink

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