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domestic Service


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Refers to paid employment as servants in the households of others. In all periods of history both men and women sought such employment. However, fewer men than women became servants after 1780, when a tax was imposed on all adult male indoor servants.

Domestic service was the most important type of employment for women until after the start of the First World War in 1914, when women took on the jobs of men who joined the services. In upper‐class households there was often a hierarchy of servants ‘below stairs’, ranging from the butler to kitchen skivvies. Frequently these servants remained with the household for many years, some holding positions of intimacy and trust. Amongst the lower middle class only a ‘maid of all work’ was employed, often enduring long hours and little prestige. Her lot was superior only to the ‘daily’ helping with the ‘rough work’.

Subjects: Economic History — Australasian and Pacific History.


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