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Brokering ServitudeMigration and the Politics of Domestic Labor during the Long Nineteenth Century$
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Andrew Urban

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814785843

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814785843.001.0001

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Race and Reform

Race and Reform

Domestic Service, the Great Migration, and European Quotas, 1891–1924

Chapter:
(p.223) 6 Race and Reform
Source:
Brokering Servitude
Author(s):

Andrew Urban

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9780814785843.003.0007

Stymied by the refusal of “new” immigrant women from Eastern and Southern Europe to pursue work as domestic laborers, at the turn of the century middle-class employers reevaluated the fundamental utility of hired labor to the production of domesticity. Chapter 6 brings the book’s different narrative arcs together by engaging public and expert debates about whether domestic service could best be reformed and made modern through changes to labor relations in the home or whether Chinese and black workers’ alleged predisposition to servitude meant that looking for racialized sources of labor continued to be the best solution for “fixing” the occupation. Examining the start of the Great Migration, the 1917 Immigration Act, and the eventual passage of numerical restrictions on European immigration that the 1924 Immigration Act instituted, this chapter argues that the various exceptions built into immigration laws, which had exempted domestic servants from restrictions since the passage of the 1885 Foran Act, finally gave way to the conclusion that white women could no longer be counted on to do this work.

Keywords:   domestic service, 1917 Immigration Act, 1924 Immigration Act, Great Migration, Contract Labor Law (Foran Act)

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