“Meridian Hill Park. View showing texture of concrete in lower wall. Maid with small children in view”

By an unknown photographer, Washington, DC, ca. 1910

In the late 19th century, domestic work—cleaning houses, cooking meals, and caring for an employer’s children—was viewed as one of lowest status jobs in American society. Most domestics were African American or immigrant women who worked long hours and whose duties were controlled by their employers. Domestic work was the most common form of employment for women until the 1920s.

National Archives, Records of the Office of Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capital (42-SPB-18)