Matrons and Maids
Regulating Indian Domestic Service in Tucson, 1914–1934
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.”
It is rare to encounter a study of cross-cultural relations especially devoted to women. Within the constraints imposed by the extant records, Haskins' book represents a thoughtful and lucid study of a complex social world wherein the Tohono O'odham were constantly adapting to changing colonial hierarchies."—AlterNative
“This book deserves a place on an expanding shelf of recent books that provide significant insight into the complex situations Indian Service employees faced as they worked to apply the assimilationist policies the nation then espoused.—American Indian Culture and Research Journal
“In an exhaustive examination of official correspondence, Matrons and Maids explores interpersonal conflicts among Office of Indian Affairs personnel along with the daily challenges and changing nature of the outing matron position in Tucson during the early twentieth century.”—Ethnohistory
“This well-researched and well-written study examines the experiences of two very different groups of women whose lives intersected within the boundaries of the federally sponsored ‘’outing program.’’’—Pacific Historical Review
“The book successfully and concisely intertwines the individual stories with that of the program, specifically highlighting the paradoxes and conflicts in the role of the outing matrons.”—Western Historical Quarterly
“Haskins plays the day-to-day experiences of those women involved in the ‘outing program’ against assumptions about the responses of Native women to gendered acculturation politics. This book makes a real contribution to the twentieth-century history of American Indians.” —Lisa E. Emmerich, Chico State University
This clearly written analysis traces the careers of the ‘outing matrons’ who found domestic work for young Indian women in Tucson from World War I into the 1930s. Haskins shows them as the focus for colonization while they held only a low-level position in society themselves. Along with studies of Indian boarding schools, this careful look at the ‘outing matrons’ demonstrates the changes in American Indian policy in the early twentieth century."—Roger L. Nichols, Warrior Nations: The United States and Indian Peoples
“Haskins’s exceptional book examines a special group of female employees of the Indian Service in Tucson during the early twentieth century. Her strong research and revealing analysis sheds new light on gender and race in the urban Southwest, and the Native and non-Native women who lived, worked, and negotiated the terms of labor between white Tucson and the Tohono O'odham communities.” —Brenda J. Child, author of Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of the Community
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.
2. “Herein may lie the solution to the servant-girl question—”: Gender, Race, and Outing
3. “The good an outing matron can do”: The Start of Outing in Tucson, 1913–1914
4. “Naturally a trouble-maker”: Minnie Estabrook, 1914–1915
5. “I try to keep the girls from going to the dances”: Janette Woodruff, 1915–1929
6. “A worthy, industrious people”: Libbie Light, 1929–1932
7. “Mrs. Taylor calls it ‘messenger work’”: Gracie Taylor, 1932–1934
8. “—For a time, at least”: History and the Outing Matrons
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