The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study

By W. E. B. Du Bois | Go to book overview

VI.
AMUSEMENTS AND RECREATIONS.

There can be little doubt that the monotony of the life of a domestic employee is one of the chief obstacles in the way of many competent workers who, but for this, might enter service as a permanent employment. Although household work is less arduous than many other forms of manual labor, yet it is true of it more than of almost any other occupation that it demands practically the whole of the worker's time. Nearly all of the restaurant waiters interviewed have "only two hours at a time," and it will readily be understood that with their leisure so broken they find it difficult to employ it to any very great advantage, either in the direction of study or of recreation. The liberty of the "private waiter" (except on his day out) is even less than that of the hotel waiter. Household work is a ceaseless round which, like woman's work, is "never done." And the private domestic, even when given considerable liberty and free time while within the household, must always hold himself in readiness to answer any call at a moment's notice. All this is a very serious objection in the minds of most young people, who, as has been seen, constitute the greater part of domestic service everywhere. Without doubt it deters many whites as well as blacks, and many rural as well as urban people, from entering household service. Indeed, it is probable that it determines in a very considerable degree the personnel of domestic service in England as well as throughout the United States, and somewhat modifies its character in the matter of permanence, as many English girls prefer factory work, and many girls in our cotton-growing and grape-raising regions, as well as in our factory towns, prefer field and factory work when it is to be had, and only fall back into the ranks of domestic service when the season is passed or factory work slack. Of the restlessness of household servants in England, Mr. Booth says:13"Many of this class (the middle grade)

____________________
13
Charles Booth, vol. 8, chapter on Household Service.

-463-

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