“‘The Maid Speaks’: Black Domestic Workers in the South During the Great Depression”
“The Maid Speaks” takes a new look at the experience of African American domestic workers in the South during the Depression. I examine a collection of household surveys and self-administered questionnaires for both workers and employers during the 1930s that were part of an initiative to reform domestic service in the South. They provide rare documentation of Black domestic workers’ perspectives on their employment, and of employers’ expectations and hiring practices. I use this archive to analyze how southern domestic workers expressed their ideas about domestic service and reform in the context of exploitative labor practices. My study suggests that even household workers not directly involved in labor organizations were active agents in the daily struggle for social and economic justice. This paper is drawn from my book manuscript in progress, The New Maid: African American Domestic Workers in the South during the New Deal.
"'When Our Centers Have All the Money They Need and the Navy Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a Battleship'
The Radical Origins of the Child Care Worker Movement" is the first chapter of my book project on the history of child care as a labor issue in the late twentieth century. Focusing on the Boston Area Day Care Workers Union, founded in 1973, this chapter explores how workers and families grappled with the undervaluation of care work and the limited role of government actors in providing affordable and accessible child care solutions.
Respondent: Martha Biondi, Northwestern University
About the Labor History Seminar
The Newberry Labor History Seminar provides a forum for works in progress that explore the history of working class people, communities, and culture; class and state policy; unions and popular political movements; and other related topics.