The Maid Narratives

Relationship inequality was confirmed in two ways; the first was through the required social etiquette. Servants were expected to show their employers deference, for example, by using terms  “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am,” and addressing the employer as “Miss” or “Mrs.” (usually “Miz”); servants, on the other hand, were addressed by their first names. Black women, regardless of class, were never referred to as “ladies,” a fact that was true down to at least the late 1960s; this term was reserved for white women deemed worthy of respect (Ritterhouse 2006; Tucker 1988). Black women were always referred to as “women” and “girls” even when they were of a mature age (Rollins 1985). Under slavery, house servants were addressed as “aunt” and “uncle” or with a standardized form such as “Mammy.” As late as the 1930s, white employers were sometimes still using this form of address, especially in the country.

–          The Maid Narratives by Katherine van Wormer, David W. Jackson III, and Charletta Sudduth, published by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1944

black maid

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