Seven Days a Week

Seven Days a Week : Women and Domestic Service in Industrializing America

3.8 (15 ratings by Goodreads)
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A critical examination of women in domestic service in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries makes extensive use of the writings of domestics and contemporary interviewsshow more

Product details

  • Hardback | 392 pages
  • 137.16 x 208.28 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 15ill.2figs.42tabs.
  • 0195023684
  • 9780195023688

Review Text

The old "servant problem" comes in for interesting reappraisal in Univ. of Kansas historian Katzman's discussion of women in domestic service in America from the Civil War to the 1920s. During this period, both the workers and the work changed. Native-born white women were replaced by immigrants (mainly Irish) who in turn gave way to southern black women migrating north. The black women, mostly married, established "live-out" service and day work in preference to the old "live-in" system. Technological developments from the carpet sweeper to the gas stove simplified household tasks, and the "cult of efficiency" tried to regularize them. Yet there was no change in the main characteristic of domestic service: the highly personalized relationship between employer and employee. In the words of servants and mistresses themselves, Katzman explains how servants were hired, how they were treated, and why efforts to reform and professionalize the job failed. (A separate chapter studies the particular relation of black servants and white mistresses.) While America industrialized, domestic service fell outside the modernizing trend - with important implications for American home life and household labor. Despite Katzman's annoying habit of recycling the same information, this is lucid and accessible social history, complete with statistical appendices on women workers, occupations, and wages. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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15 ratings
3.8 out of 5 stars
5 27% (4)
4 27% (4)
3 47% (7)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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