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