Matrons and Maids: Regulating Indian Domestic Service in Tucson, 1914-1934

Matrons and Maids: Regulating Indian Domestic Service in Tucson, 1914-1934

by Victoria K. Haskins


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From 1914 to 1934 the US government sent Native American girls to work as domestic servants in the homes of white families. Matrons and Maids tells this forgotten history through the eyes of the women who facilitated their placements. During those two decades, “outing matrons” oversaw and managed the employment of young Indian women. In Tucson, Arizona, the matrons acted as intermediaries between the Indian and white communities and between the local Tucson community and the national administration, the Office of Indian Affairs.

Based on federal archival records, Matrons and Maids offers an original and detailed account of government practices and efforts to regulate American Indian women. Haskins demonstrates that the outing system was clearly about regulating cross-cultural interactions, and she highlights the roles played by white women in this history. As she compellingly argues, we cannot fully engage with cross-cultural histories without examining the complex involvement of white women as active, if ambivalent, agents of colonization.

Including stories of the entwined experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women that range from the heart-warming to the heart-breaking, Matrons and Maids presents a unique perspective on the history of Indian policy and the significance of “women’s work.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780816536559
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Publication date: 01/24/2017
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Victoria K. Haskins is an associate professor at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, where she is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow in History. She is the author of One Bright Spot and co-editor of Uncommon Ground: White Women in Aboriginal History.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Outing Matrons of Tucson 1

2 "Herein may lie the solution to the servant-girl question-": Gender, Race, and Outing 18

3 "The good an outing matron can do": The Start of Outing in Tucson, 1913-1914 35

4 "Naturally a trouble-mak r": Minnie Estabrook, 191-1915 54

5 "I try to keep the girls from going to the dances": Janette Woodruff, 1911-1929 78

6 "A worthy, industrious people": Libbie Light, 1929-1932 107

7 "Mrs. Taylor calls it 'messenger work'": Gracie Taylor, 1932-1934 134

8 "-For a time, at least": History and the Outing Matrons 157

Acknowledgments 167

Notes 169

Bibliography 211

Index 225

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