Seminar with Kim Maxwell: The Unbearable Heaviness of Something Small

Date: 10/04/2014
Time: 1:00 pm-3:00 pm

“The Unbearable Heaviness of Something Small:

Art and Literature of World War I”

Upstairs Downstairs

In the early twentieth century, Norfolk was in its heyday as a summer resort, and jobs in the service industry were plentiful. As “cottagers” arrived to spend the summer in the northwest hills, they often brought with them their maids, cooks, butlers, and chauffeurs. Local hired help might include gardeners, laundresses, or seamstresses. Who were these people and what were their lives like? While the census provides names, ages, birthplace, and occupation, voices from the back stairs generally have not been heard.

On Sunday, September 21, Jennifer Pustz will provide some answers in an illustrated talk on the lives of domestic servants in nineteenth and twentieth century New England. In a program sponsored by the Norfolk Historical Society, Jen will focus on three Historic New England properties to illustrate the diversity of domestic service. Period domestic manuals, ephemera, and other general material will also shed light on the lives of servants and relationships with their employers.

Jennifer Pustz is the museum historian at Historic New England. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies from the University of Iowa and M.A. and B.A. degrees in art history. She is the author of Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants’ Lives at Historic House Museums (Northern Illinois University Press, 2010).

 

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