2001 ASSLH conference – ‘I was mad on housework’: Some maids’ perspectives on domestic service, c. 1908-1920

Helen Pfeil
PhD Student, Department of History, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University


In the first two decades of the twentieth century, the proportion of women working as domestic servants in Australia was steadily decreasing. Historical considerations of servants have focused on this decline, explaining it in terms of the undesirability and degradation of service. These explanations fail to account for maids’ own understandings. Considering the evidence of oral history interviews, this paper argues that their work as servants was an important element in these women’s positive construction of identity. Differentiating treatment from their employers and being treated “like servants”, however, was something they resented as incongruous with their sense of self.


“I wanted to clean houses, I wanted to do housework. That was my ambition, to do housework.”1

These are the words of Esther Davis, who worked as a live-in domestic servant for five years before she married in 1919, giving up a job in a shop to pursue her “ambition”. To the modern listener, her words are strangely jarring. The number of women employed in domestic service had been steadily declining worldwide since about the 1890s. By 1921, industrial or factory work had superseded service as the primary employer of women in Australia.2 To middle- class servant employing families, this change in the labour market and its consequences in their homes was an ominous trend, known to them as “the servant problem”. Anxious female employers attributed the decline to the poor conditions obtaining in service and the availability of factory work, suggesting that working women would undertake service only when the alternative was starvation.3

Subsequent historians, working from Marxist and feminist frameworks, and perhaps also imagining how they would themselves like the long hours and arduous work, have continued to describe service in the pejorative terms of frustrated mistresses. In her groundbreaking My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann, Beverly Kingston represents a substantial body of historians who, like servant-employing women, have since attributed the decline of service to the undesirability of the servant role which they describe as not only arduous, but degrading or menial, combined with increasing opportunities for alternative employment due to industrialisation.4

It was “the proliferation of egalitarian attitudes in Australia”, Kingston suggests, which “cast domestic service as a most undesirable profession for a lively, self respecting girl.”5 She cites “long hours…bad pay…continual supervision…the sheer physical hardness of the work”, lack of training and archaic technology as “important reasons driving women and girls out of service and into the factories.”6 Yet judgements like “long”, “hard” and particularly “bad”, while perhaps appearing obvious to the modern reader, are not always based on servants’ own assessments. Nor do they allow that some women may have been attracted to the factory, rather than “driven” from service, or that others remained in service despite alternate employment opportunities. Kingston’s unproblematic use of the term “egalitarian”, moreover, brands women who chose to remain in domestic service as lacking in “self respect”.

While it is difficult to assess accurately the arduousness of servants’ tasks, there can be little doubt that much of what they were required to do was physically demanding. Young girls in particular were often simply incapable of performing heavier tasks such as washing.7 Yet it is not only this aspect of the work which historians have seen as making it undesirable. Shirley Fitzgerald argues that service was distasteful to servants not only because it was arduous, but because they were “restricted to the most menial of casual employment, such as mangling.”8 It is this meniality, or degradation, assumed to be implicit in certain forms of work, which has led historians to pose domestic service as the antithesis of “egalitarianism”. Yet neither mangling, nor any other type of work, has inherent value. It is given value by those who construct it.

Women’s work and women workers, as Joan Scott argues, are not objective categories, but are concepts arising from constructed stories about the past. These stories are told by various individuals and groups of people (including maids, mistresses and historians), all offering “an interpretation by assembling information to promote a particular and contestable meaning.”9 To an extent, maids’ work was not only constructed by them, but for them. As Raelene Frances argues, “the paid labour market was so rigidly sex-segregated that for most women the choice was between factory work and domestic service, either in one’s own home or someone else’s.”10 Women who became servants were expected to conform to certain gender, class and experiential expectations. Maids’ work was defined by their employers as single, usually childless women’s work. It was also not mistress’ work. Yet as Frances also indicates, people make their own history (and stories) within such structural constraints.11 This paper does not attempt to refute employers’ and historians’ constructions of maids’ work. Rather, by giving voice to another important set of narratives—those of elderly former maids—I want to complicate the picture we have of domestic servants’ work and its meanings.

In considering past narratives of maids’ work, it is important not to ignore the preference of many women for factory work over service. Kingston and Michael Gilding both cite the evidence given by Mary Outch to the 1911 Royal Commission into Female and Juvenile Labour to demonstrate the prevalence of this feeling. Outch left service because it was “so hard…we have very little time to ourselves, and are working for nothing, in fact.”12 Yet explanations of the decline of service do not account for women like Esther Davis, who chose to enter and remain in this occupation. This paper looks at evidence produced by servants themselves, unsettling historical assumptions about the universal undesirability of the servant role and the degradation of the tasks they performed. For these women, service was more than just drudge work, and working as a servant (as distinct from being a servant) was an important element in their positive self-representations. It is necessary to consider maids’ voices. “The servant problem” was not part of their discourse. Rather, they were concerned with differentiating treatment, such as being made to wear uniforms and excluded from family meals, which made them feel “like a servant”.

The mistress-servant relationship, played out in the space of the middle-class home, was an important element in maids’ understandings of themselves. Through it, they constructed a specific “maid” identity, which in turn was part of a broader set of interconnected and sometimes conflicting identities, such as woman, worker, thrifty woman, frugal woman, sister, wife, daughter, mother and girlfriend. In this paper, I will consider the ways in which maids represented themselves in the context of the mistress-servant relationship. In doing so, I will also explore their conceptions of categories such as work, independence, control, space, femininity and frugality, which were integral to their sense of self.

To understand maids’ construction of meaning in their lives, it is necessary to go to sources they themselves produced, or, as Penny Russell has done for Thomas Anne Ward Cole’s servants, to read other sources against the grain.13 Maids’ written forms of expression in this period, as in most, were more limited than their mistresses’. My analysis of maids’ constructions is based on the oral histories of Esther Davis, Ivy Fry, Ita Lugg, Dorothy Parker, Clara Sadler, Annie Starr and Catherine Watson, who all worked as domestic servants in rural and urban locations across Australia between about 1908 and 1920. These women were all from working-class backgrounds and generally entered service after leaving school at around the age of fourteen. While some had considered secondary education, all had expected to work before being married, mostly in their mid-twenties. Of the four women who had migrated from England as young women or children, Sadler and Starr had previous experience of service before their arrival in Australia.

In the oral testimonies of these former servants, a picture of service and women’s reasons for entering the occupation emerges in stark contrast with former historical interpretation. While Ivy Fry, a maid between 1912 and 1924, thought increasing employment opportunities may have led some girls to take up alternative occupations, she found service a viable and attractive occupation and “was quite happy to stay as I was till I married.”14 Some women, exemplified by the enthusiastic Esther Davis, were positively attracted to the occupation. Far from viewing service as a stigmatised and disagreeable occupation to be avoided if possible, her “ambition” was “to clean houses”.15 Thus, listening to the voices of maids themselves, it is apparent that a framework which can only interpret their work as servants in terms of resistance to or acceptance of drudgery, does not adequately address their experiences as they related them.

Anne McClintock’s work in the English context is important here, in that it attributes primacy to maids’ representations of their own lives and rejects an “objective” view of service, which sees maids as drudges who may, or may not, have maintained their dignity by fooling themselves that they were otherwise. This is not to deny social subordination. Servants were in an economically and socially inferior position to their mistresses. However, as McClintock argues, they experienced agency through negotiation and resistance of power and their constructions of their own identities.16 Her work in this area offers a useful model for my analysis of Australian maids’ narratives and their portrayals of working as a servant, space, difference, independence and control.

The mistress-servant relationship did not change rapidly or uniformly. It was always subjective, differing to a greater or lesser extent between households and individuals. Social and technological trends, when they can be discerned, were certainly never uniformly applicable to households at any given time. Even the First World War, which undoubtedly influenced patterns of women’s employment, was experienced in different ways by each of the interviewees. Indeed, for these women who all remained in service, it seemed to have had surprisingly little effect on their specific experiences of service and the mistress-servant relationship. As sisters, girlfriends, daughters and Australians, however, they felt it had a significant impact.17

In recent years, the experiences of Aboriginal women in domestic service have been considered, particularly in the twentieth-century context.18 This history is by no means complete and Aboriginal women appear to have formed an increasingly significant part of the domestic workforce.19 As yet, I have been unable to locate oral histories recorded by Aboriginal women working before 1920. Inara Walden’s study of Aboriginal women’s experiences of domestic service, largely relating to the 1920s through to the Second World War, indicates that the relationship between Aboriginal servants and white mistresses was substantially different to that between white servants and mistresses.20 Both sets of relationships, differentiated by race, warrant further analysis and ought not to be conflated.

Not all women entering domestic service had Davis’ burning “ambition” to do so. The other six women I have studied became servants through economic necessity, some more willingly than others. Starr had not wanted to go into service, yet she later averred “I’ve loved housework all me [sic] life. That’s all I’ve wanted.”21 Fry, who cried for a week when she entered service to help support her widowed invalid mother and siblings, soon “settled down” and reported her seven and a half years working for Lady Stirling “a very happy time.”22

These women’s avowals of pleasure during oral history interviews must be considered in the context of memory and identity-formation over lifetimes. The experience of domestic service was only one part of their lives, that spanned nearly a century. While Parker claimed to have “enjoyed it all”, her answers to questions about removing “slops” were tellingly brief: “you just took it in your stride”, she claimed.23 In contrast, she and her friend Sue Vickers (who had also been a servant and was present during the interview) became animated when talking about clothes-washing and spoke authoritatively about the way things were in “those days”.24 Parker’s emphasis on washing rather than “slops” was probably informed not just by individual experience, but by successive popular narratives of turn-of-the-century work and cleanliness, which were also evident in interviewers’ questions. In all of the interviews, memories were highlighted or elided, according to the value they were attributed in individuals’ positive overall portrayals of themselves.25 Although mediated by these women’s lifetime’s experiences, the use of their memories as evidence privileges their positive views over more negative modern assumptions.

Constructions of work, often the same work identified by historians as degrading and menial, emerge as central to these women’s assessments of their lives in service. Confidently asserting the value of her labour, Parker recalled that “You were always scrubbing something…everybody was doing something all the time”.26 Her friend, Vickers, added that “we used to take a great pride in those days in how white you could scrub your table.”27 Davis, too, was proud of the effects of her work and remembered always being “up at six and…I used to get up at five to soot [the stove]…and clean it up…and whitewash it all around you know. It used to look nice with the hearth there.”28 Like most servants, she had to be awake before her mistress to take cups of tea to the family, prepare breakfast, begin the week’s washing or perform other tasks like cleaning the stove. While this part of the work was certainly irksome to some maids, Davis identified it as integral to her identity and self-worth: “I’m always a good getter-up. I like to get up early.”29

Servants did not simply attribute value to work they were obliged to perform anyway, nor did they unquestioningly take on their mistresses’ values about working women’s hard work and morality. To Fry, work she did unbidden was particularly important to her narrative. She “thought nothing” of forfeiting her monthly weekend off to preserve pears which were “all ripe…But, oh, Lady Stirling thought that was marvellous. Because they would’ve been rotten by Tuesday, you see.”30 This incident was part of a narrative of frugality. Fry felt fortunate in having had “the bringing up that Mother couldn’t afford to have anything wasted” and identified frugality as a trait which “just came natural” to her.31 Thus this incident achieved significance, not so much as a demonstration of obedience or devotion, but as an indicator of hard work and frugality, characteristics she attributed to her working-class background rather than to service. In this instance, Fry emphasised her identity as a daughter and working-class woman, even though her interviewer’s narrative focussed on service.

Maids, like their mistresses, formed opinions about which work belonged to whom and did not always simply accept duties assigned to them. On a rural property where men were also employed, Sadler never milked cows or chopped wood, as “anything you wanted outside was theirs”.32 She also valued the demarcation of work within the house. She did “Only the housemaid work that’s all”, while the cook, her “cousin did the cooking and the laundry work and the kitchen work”.33 To some extent, when servants disagreed about the assignment of particular tasks, they negotiated about which work was theirs and which belonged to other members of the household. Lugg, for instance, “was supposed to learn how to milk. I didn’t want to milk the cow, I was frightened of it.”34 Evidently she could not be persuaded. Nor was her refusal considered grounds for dismissal, as she stayed on, while the mistress or daughter of the house undertook this task themselves. Maids also considered certain tasks part of their roles and could be affronted when others impinged on their domain.

Although sometimes distinguishing between their own and their mistresses’ work, maids frequently asserted its sameness. Watson, for instance, stated that she and her mistress “shared the work”.35 On closer analysis, however, it is apparent that each woman regularly performed her own well defined tasks. Describing a typical day, Watson recalled

I’d get up of a morning and…I’d take her a cup of tea and then I’d get the children their breakfast and get them dress [sic] and myself my breakfast. And then she’d probably get up and she’d get her own breakfast and then I’d wash up and between us we’d make the beds. And then I’d sweep the floors and polish them.36

This division of tasks, ordained by the mistress, was understood by Watson as sharing the household work, rather than an allocation of tasks according to the status of work and worker. Parker and her mistress had a similar partition of tasks, but she emphasised and constructed this differently to Watson. While Parker’s mistress Mrs. Bateman, who was “a good age”, undertook “Bed making and tidying up the boys [sic] rooms and her own room and all this sort of thing”, Parker herself “was young, so I did the dirty jobs, the hard jobs”.37 By invoking age as the cause of the labour division, Parker asserted her own youth and strength rather than any lack of status or degradation associated with the work. In their two different representations of a work allocation essentially ordained by their mistresses, Watson and Parker both asserted the worth of their work and of themselves.

These women’s understandings of work were not always related to the specific nature of the tasks they performed. Integral to many of their constructions was their sense of economic independence as workers and for some, as providers for their families. Sadler was proud never to have been “kept by anyone since I was twelve. I’ve always…been working to keep myself.”38 Her ability to support herself meant that she was not a burden upon her family and was able to assist them to emigrate to Australia in 1922. With what Starr saved from her wages, she was also able to bring her parents out from England and provide them with basic household furnishings.39 This demonstrated not only her status as a worker and wage earner, but also her thrift—another trait important to and boasted by most of these women. Both as workers and thrifty women, servants were able to contribute to the family livelihood directly or indirectly. For those who, like Fry, had little or no immediate familial demand on their income, saving allowed them to prepare for marriage and their own future families.40

Working as a servant not only gave women financial independence, but facilitated mobility. In 1910, the NSW Immigration and Tourist Bureau appealed to adventurous English women to immigrate, promoting their sunny state as “A Land of Opportunity for Domestic Servants”.41 Starr, then aged twenty, took up the offer of an assisted passage in 1912.42 Movement on a smaller scale was also common. When Sadler was “tired of one place…I’d leave that place and get another job.”43 Her desire for change did not necessarily reflect dissatisfaction. After two years in a job she “really enjoyed”, she “wanted a change” and moved from the country to the city, confident of finding work. 44  Mobility was not the rule, however. Although mistresses complained that servants only moved jobs for more pay and less work, maids too valued a good relationship. Davis remained four years with a mistress she liked and returned as a visitor after marrying and having a baby.45

Although each of these women portrayed work as a positive and self-affirming part of their lives, this was not uniformly true of their other constructions. In particular, they resented being treated, or made to feel, “like a servant.” It is important to note here that they did not conflate working as a servant with what it meant to be a servant. In assessing their attitudes to service, therefore, it is important to recognise and explore this difference. Work was integral to the way they saw themselves. What it meant to be a servant, on the other hand, was a something against which they defined themselves. It involved elements in their mistresses’ treatment of them, such as being made to wear a uniform, not being trusted, restriction of personal freedom, orders rather than requests and exclusion from family meals, which they saw as incongruous with their identity and autonomy. When referring to their employment, these women spoke about “going into service”, or “going to work for” somebody, but never about “becoming a servant”.

By adjudging treatment that made them feel “like a servant” inappropriate or unacceptable, servants implied that its connotations conflicted with their own sense of self. Often this was expressed by leaving the employer who had thus wronged them. Yet even those women who continued to live in a situation where they were made to feel “like a servant”, due to economic or other necessity, did not simply internalise the view that they “were” servants. The act of feeling dissatisfied was self-affirmation that, while they worked as servants, there was no congruity between their identities and being servants. They also vocalised their grievances to one another and other members of the community. Thus Fry recalled the stories of friends in service who told her about employers who were “very mean to work with.”46 At a later date, these particular women also found a forum for affirming their identities in oral history interviews.

While maids could assert their identities by condemning treatment that made them feel “like a servant”, they also employed more direct forms of subversion. Often this involved utilising their position within the household to their advantage. Fry remembered a friend in service who, when forced to “account” for everything, used her access to the household’s food supplies to make a cake for a private party, despite punishment.47 Similarly, Sadler and her cousin disguised rabbit as a chicken dish for their employers and cheerfully ate the chicken themselves.48

These women’s understandings of what made them feel “like a servant” varied, but generally encompassed that treatment which made obvious social distinctions between employers and maids. Sadler was typical of most, when she “got sick” of “working for other people and wearing a uniform and being kept as a maid and spoken to as a maid”.49 In response, she went to work for a woman who was “more like on level with myself”, required no uniform to be worn and with whom she shared all of the household tasks in equal rotation.50 Here, the enforced differentiation of tasks, appearance and mode of being spoken to all contributed to Sadler’s feeling “like a servant”. Similarly, maids resented having to make these distinctions themselves. For Starr, having to “dress in black” and “receive the visitors” was particularly onerous.51  Lugg disliked being rung for with a bell.52

For most of these women, the opposite of feeling “like a servant”, was feeling “one of the family”, or “on a level”. Watson, for instance, enjoyed working for the Broadbents, who treated her as “one of them” and “were just family to me.”53 Just as wearing uniforms, being spoken down to and required to come when bidden by a bell made women feel “like a maid”, the absence of this differentiating behaviour was valued as indicating personal equality with their employers. Starr “was very, very happy” in a home where she “wasn’t forced” to wear a uniform and there were no bells.54

While making little distinction between the status of different tasks, maids did regard certain positions as better than others. The eligibility of a “position” was often based on whether one was treated “as a maid” or as “one of the family”. Thus Parker and Vickers felt that being a “lady help” was better than “being a maid”, although the actual tasks performed did not differ.55

Maids shared the same domestic space as their mistresses and like them, understood and negotiated it in specific ways. One of the assumptions which has led to the common condemnation of the servant role, is that this sharing of space put the servant in a position of being constantly observed and scrutinised.56 Once again, this formulation does not fully consider maids’ own interpretation of the space they lived and worked in. While maids did value their own space, separate from the employing family, scrutiny by employers was not the only reason for this. Nor did their value of privacy exclude appreciation of shared domestic space. Both were invested with particular meanings regarding servants’ place within the household.

While mistresses often associated maids with the kitchen, maids themselves were more concerned with their sleeping quarters. To indicate the size and pleasantness of a house, the first thing these women usually mentioned was whether they had their own bedroom or not. Bedrooms were certainly appreciated for the privacy they offered. Although Watson enjoyed eating meals with the family, she preferred retiring to her own room in the evenings, needing “a bit of time to myself”.57 The significance of bedrooms was also intimately related to status and feeling “like a maid”. Starr felt “a real maid” when allocated a bedroom that was “not…nice” and “up in the attic”.58 Having to share, even with children of the house, could make them feel that they were not being considered properly.59 The allocation of a maid’s own space, in the form of a bedroom, meant not being dealt with “like a servant” and importantly, not being treated as a child. In a home where Watson felt “one of the family”, she noted that she was given a room to herself, while the family’s three daughters had to share.60 While feeling like “one of the family” was desirable, it was important to be regarded as an adult member.

Although servants valued the privacy and status of having their own bedrooms, sharing of domestic space was considered equally important. Part of being “one of the family”, with its connotations of personal equality, involved spending time in the same spaces. Eating meals with the family emerges as a central theme in these women’s understandings of being “one of the family”, which were generally more related to leisure time and social interaction than the work they performed. Davis felt part of a family where she routinely sat with them in the dining-room during the evening, doing her “fancywork”.61 Although their tasks differed during work hours, Davis sat alongside her mistress and pursued similar activities once her paid work was completed. To this end, she even gave up eating with the family, in order to have the dishes done in time.62 In contrast, spatial differentiation in a household where Lugg was relegated to the kitchen to eat solitary meals, made her feel lonely and like a servant.63 For maids, their mobility was one way of rejecting such differentiating treatment and assuaging feelings of isolation—an option closed to mistresses. Davis spent only a fortnight at one place where “they just treated me as a servant. So I wanted to be treated as one of the family so I wouldn’t stay.”64

Whether service was their chosen occupation, or something done in the absence of other options, these women all had opinions about work, service, their mistresses, their relationships and themselves. They did not simply internalise prescriptive roles as outlined in conduct literature or propounded by their social superiors. Work was central to maids’ identities. However, their tasks, enjoyed, negotiated, tolerated or otherwise, were not the only way of creating positive self-images. They felt power in having the ability to leave situations where they felt improperly used, or, when this was impractical, to believe and say negative things about their employers. By placing themselves in the role of judges over mistresses who made them feel “like a servant”, they asserted their identities against such treatment.

1 Esther Davis, 1896-; transcript of an interview by Paula Hamilton (sound recording), NSW Bicentennial Oral History Collection, National Library of Australia (hereafter NLA), ORAL TRC 2301 INT.29. 20.2.1987, p. 6.
2 C. H. Wickens, Census of the Commonwealth of Australia Taken for the Night Between the 3rd and 4th April, 1921, vol. 2, Melbourne, 1921, p. 1219.
3 Mrs M. Lalor, ‘Mary Ann: Trades Unionist—The Domestic Workers’ Union of N.S.W.,’ Lone Hand, vol. 9, 1 May 1911, pp. 44-45; Marie E.J. Pitt, ‘The Problem of the Servant Girl’, ibid., pp. 38-43.
4 R.W. Connell and T.H. Irving, Class Structure in Australian History: Poverty and Progress, Melbourne, 1992, p. 180; L. Davidoff, “Mastered for Life: Servant and Wife in Victorian and Edwardian England”, in L. Davidoff, World’s Between: Historical Perspectives on Gender and Class, Cambridge, 1995, pp. 24-25; S. Fitzgerald, Rising Damp: Sydney 1870-90, Melbourne, 1987, p. 217; M. Gilding, The Making and Breaking of the Australian Family, Sydney, 1991, p. 41; B. Kingston, My Wife, My Daughter and Poor Mary Ann: Women and Work in Australia, Melbourne, 1975, pp. 57-61; J.J. Matthews, Good and Mad Women: The Historical Construction of Femininity in Twentieth-Century Australia, Sydney, 1984, pp. 71, 162; K. Milgrom, Domestic Service in Australia 1860-1920, unpublished honours thesis, Monash University, 1975, pp. 16-20; R. Evans and K. Saunders, “No Place like Home: The Evolution of the Australian Housewife”, in K. Saunders and R. Evans (eds), Gender Relations in Australia: Domination and Negotiation, Sydney, 1992, p. 182.
5 Kingston, My Wife…, p. 30.
6 Ibid., pp. 32-34.
7 M. Barbalet, Far From a Low Gutter Girl: The Forgotten World of State Wards: South Australia 1887-1940, Melbourne, 1983, pp. 28-35.
8 Fitzgerald, Rising Damp, p. 217.
 9 J.W. Scott, “The Woman Worker”, in Geneviève Fraisse and Michelle Perrot (eds), A History of Women in the West: IV Emerging Feminism from Revolution to World War, Cambridge, 1993, p. 400.
10 R. Frances, The Politics of Work: Gender and Labour in Victoria 1880-1939, Cambridge, 1993, p. 17.
11 Ibid., p. 11.
12 Outch, quoted in Gilding, Making and Breaking, p. 41; Kingston, My Wife…, p. 59.
13 Russell, “Mrs Cole’s Servants: A Study in Domestic Politics”, Lilith, no. 4, 1988, pp. 41-57.
14 Ivy Fry, 1899-, transcript of “Interview with Ivy Fry (sound recording) Interviewer: Beth M. Robertson”, South Australian Women’s Responses to the First World War, State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Library of South Australiana (hereafter SLSA: Mortlock), Group number OH 31/11,1979, p. 11.
15 Davis, p. 10.
16 A. McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, New York, 1995, p. 140.
17 J. Damousi, “Marching to Different Drums: Women’s Mobilisations 1914—1949”, in Saunders and Evans (eds.), Gender Relations, p. 351. For contrasting English experience, where WWI was a watershed, see P. Horn, The Rise and Fall of the Victorian Servant, Dublin, 1975, pp. 166-183.
18 T. Austin, “‘A Chance to be Decent’: Northern Territory ‘Half-Caste’ Girls in Service in South Australia 1916-1939”, Labour History, vol. 60, 1991, pp. 51-65; J. Huggins, “White Aprons, Black Hands: Aboriginal Women Domestic Servants in Queensland”, Labour History, vol. 9, 1995, pp.188-195; J. Huggins and T. Blake, “Protection or Persecution? Gender Relations in the Era of Racial Segregation”, in Saunders Evans (eds), Gender Relations, pp. 42-58; I. Walden, “ ‘That Was Slavery Days’: Aboriginal Domestic Servants in New South Wales in the Twentieth Century”, Labour History, vol. 69, 1995, pp. 196-209.
19 Walden, “That Was Slavery Days”, p. 196.
20 Ibid., passim.
21 Annie Starr, 1891-; transcript of an interview conducted by Paula Hamilton, NSW Bicentennial Oral History Collection, NLA, ORAL TRC 2301 INT.163. 21.9.1987,pt. 1, pp. 6, 11-12.
22 Ivy Fry, 1899-, transcript of “Interview with Ivy Fry (sound recording) Interviewer: Beth M. Robertson”, “ ‘S.A. Speaks’: An Oral History of Life in South Australia before 1930”, SLSA: Mortlock, Group number OH 1/12, 1985, pp. 43, 51; Fry, transcript, 1979, p. 5.
23 Interview with Ethel Dorothy Parker, nee Eley, [sound recording] / Interviewer Ruth Barton, 1988. J.S. Battye Library of West Australian History, reference number OH2015; transcript pp. 1, 13-14.
24 Sue Vickers speaking ibid., p. 8.
25 For discussion of oral history, memory and identity, see P. Hamilton, “Inventing the Self: Oral History as Autobiography”, Hecate, vol. 16, nos. 1-2, 1990, pp. 128-133; A. Thomson, Anzac Memories: Living With the Legend, Melbourne, 1994, pp. 225-239.
26 Parker, pp. 8- 9. Original emphasis.
27 Ibid., p. 9.
28 Davis, p. 12.
29 Ibid., p. 13.
30 Fry, 1985, p. 49.
31 Fry, 1979, p. 14.
32 Clara Sadler, 1889-, transcript of an interview conducted by Paula Hamilton, NSW Bicentennial Oral History Collection, NLA, ORAL TRC 2301 INT.164. 21.9.1987, pt. 1, p. 43.
33 Ibid., pt. 1, pp. 18, 16.
34 Ita Eliza Julia Lugg, 1901-, transcript of “Interview with Ita Eliza Lugg (sound recording) Interviewer: Beth M. Robertson”, “‘S.A. Speaks’: An Oral History of Life in South Australia before 1930”, SLSA: Mortlock, Group number OH 1/37, 1986, p. 27.
35 Catherine Watson, 1904-, transcript of an interview conducted by Paula Hamilton, NSW Bicentennial Oral History Collection, NLA, ORAL TRC 2301 INT.30. 26.2.1987, p. 32.
36 Ibid., pt. 1, p. 36.
37 Parker, p. 13.

Sadler, pt. 1, p. 37.
39 Starr, pt. 2, p. 2.
40 Fry, 1985, p. 43.
41 NSW Immigration and Tourist Bureau, New South Wales a Land of Opportunity for Domestic Servants, 1910.
42 Starr, pt. 1, p. 13.
43 Sadler, pt. 1, p. 38.
44 Ibid., pt. 1, pp. 15, 23.
45 Davis, p. 39.
46 Fry, 1985, p. 57.
47 Fry, 1979, p. 15.
48 Sadler, pt. 1, pp. 18-19.
49 Ibid., pt. 1, p. 37.
50 Ibid., pt. 1, pp. 32, 37.
51 Starr, pt. 1, p. 31.
52 Lugg, p. 30.
53 Watson, pt. 1, p. 25.
54 Starr, pt. 1, pp. 20, 23-24.
55 Parker, p. 2.
56 Gilding, Making and Breaking, p. 41; Kingston, My Wife…, p. 34; Russell, “Mrs Cole’s Servants”, p. 52.
57 Watson, pp. 38, 40.
58 Starr, p. 30-31.
 59 Fry, 1985, p. 57.
60 Watson, pp. 28, 32.
61 Davis, p. 24, 16.
62 Ibid., p. 16.
63 Lugg, pp. 30-31.
64 Davis, p. 9.