Working The Holiday

Nov 22 2012 @ 5:08pm

In acknowledging the individuals who have to work today, Shamus Khan provides a short history lesson on servants:

Working on holidays has always presented something of a class divide. From the 1870s through the 1920s, middle and upper class Americans often lived with "the help" – mostly women of color whose job it was to cook and clean and care for others, day and night. While shows like Downton Abbey seek to give life to servants, they also sanitize what was a brutal, back-breaking existence. It was common for a housemaid’s day to begin well before the family rose, and extend until after they retired for the evening. They did so seven days a week; working more than 80 hours a week –more than the 65 hours worked by most factory workers at the time. While we often imagine that these women were young and single, Evelyn Nakano Glenn’s research on such care providers has shown how over 30% of them were married, many with children. As they toiled for families not their own, they left their children, parents, siblings, and husbands behind. November and December was no doubt one of the hardest times of the year, and their own families felt their absence.