Sampler Lecture Series: Domestic Servants

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Speaker Erika Hoist, collections curator for the 1833 Edwards Place historical home in Springfield, talked on March 30th, 2015 about the trials and tribulations of live-in domestic servants in the 19th century and their role in the 1800s when “hired girls” were common in middle-class households across Illinois.

Not only were coveted young girls, ages 10 to 14, difficult to find, cultural difference made them difficult to manage. Irish immigrants were feisty and local farm girls approached the difficult tasks of doing laundry and ironing with the same enthusiasm as "teenagers with a mall job," Holst said.

Attendees of the second presentation in the 2015 Sampler Series learned about these immigrants, their duties and how their responsibilities evolved over time. Available during the presentation were period artifacts such as mixing bowls and a flat iron unearthed during archeological digs.

Erika Hoist

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