Were housemaids in the 1960s actually referred to as "the help," or is this only a term from the novel?
- bluebellbkkLv 73 weeks agoFavorite Answer
Housemaids and women called 'the help' were not the same thing at all.
A housemaid lived in, and while she did some cleaning (dusting, polishing) as well as helping to serve meals and make beds, she wouldn't be expected to scrub floors or peel mountains of potatoes or any hard or dirty work.
'The help' would be a woman who came in generally a few days a week to do the heavy cleaning.
In Scotland in the 1960s, my mother and father shared the cooking between them, while we (young teenage) children made our own beds, kept our rooms tidy, set the table for meals and shared the washing-up rota afterwards.As each of us reached the age of 15 we were expected to do our own ironing.
A Mrs James came in two or three times a week to do the laundry and iron the bed linen; she also hoovered the house, cleaned the bathrooms and scrubbed the kitchen floor.
We never had a 'housemaid' as such and neither did anyone we knew.
- PAMELALv 73 weeks ago
No, they would be called the help, or staff.
- LudwigLv 63 weeks ago
Yes they were. for all I know they still are. Only those of us in the wiping and vacuum cleaning profession these days, do not calll ourselves 'housemaids'. Unless we are into the fun that cross-dressing can provide.
- Elaine MLv 73 weeks ago
It's a term used in the American South. In the north and definitely the Midwest they were 'maids'.
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- MarliLv 73 weeks ago
My neighbors worked (1960s) and had a daily to do the housework and prepare lunch for the children. She was always referred to by her name and "She helps us with the housework and the children." We would "get it" from all our parents if we "insulted" her by calling her a servant. (My neighbors were Scots BTW)
"The help" where I lived referred to the farm workers: kids (me included), and other hired workers. I don't know about the Southern US, but in 19th century Canada* and the Great Lakes States (and on farms up to now I think, unless everyone are now called "workers", "employees" or "staff"), it was demeaning to call an employee a "servant" because "We're as good as you are." He or she was called "the help" or "hired help" because they helped their employers with the work.
* Susanna Moodie, a gentlewoman immigrant and sister of Agnes Strickland (author of "Lives of the Queens of England", famous in her Victorian day), in either "Roughing It In The Bush" or "Life in the Clearings" complained that Canadian and American girls made poor household servants. They had independent airs, would not do as they were told by her, and insisted on being called "help" and not "maid" or "servant". (It did not help their relationships that the "help" usually knew better than their gentlewomen employers how things were best done in "primitive" country. Susanna and her sister Catharine learned from experience. Catharine compiled and wrote "The Female Settler's Guide" to provide instruction to later immigrants. Later editions were titled "The Canadian Settler's Guide". It was recently annotated and republished. If you are a history buff, especially if you live in Southern Ontario or western New York state, it's worth borrowing or buying to get a sense of what pioneer advice and living in that area was like.
- TinaLv 73 weeks ago
There were no housemaids in the 1960s and hadn't been for a while