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Maids and Servants

April 13, 2015

Kate at the Tangen HouseHi, I’m Kate. I am the supervisor at the Flynn Mansion at Living History Farms. Have you ever visited our museum and discovered one of the guides dressed differently than during your last visit?

Kate at the 1850 pioneer farm
Kate at the 1900 Farm

Museum guides at Living History Farms often work at many different sites and do many different jobs–so they wear different clothing and hats for different kinds of work.

One job that everyone has to do is clean. Sometimes guides clean up after themselves and sometimes they clean up after animals. Have you ever helped do any cleaning during a visit here?sweepingWas it a lot different than cleaning at your house? Spring is a time of year when many people take extra time to clean their houses really well. It is called “spring cleaning”.

Flynn MansionNext time you visit the Flynn Mansion, you may notice that there are guides dressed in different ways. Some ladies wear fancy dresses with lace or ruffles. But other women wear blue or gray dresses with white aprons and white caps on their heads.

tea at the flynn mansion

Some gentlemen wear colorful vests and ties, but there may be men wearing plain black pants and simple shirts and vests or even work aprons. The women in the caps are called maids and the men are called footmen. Have you read about maids and servants in books or seen them in movies?maid at the stoveA servant’s job was to take care of the house by doing things like cleaning the dishes, dusting, and picking things up.

servants in the kitchen

Being a servant wasn’t always a very fun job. It was a lot of hard work keeping a big house like the Flynn Mansion clean and tidy. There are fourteen rooms that need to be cleaned, windows to wash, and furniture to dust. The Flynns also had ten children that lived in the house. Think of all the messes they made! At your house, whose job is it to clean up your toys and clothes?

tea at the flynn mansion

Guides who work at the Flynn Mansion don’t always have to clean. They usually switch back and forth between being fancy ladies and gentlemen one day, and being servants a different day. When I work as a maid, I dust the furniture, polish the silver, and make the beds. Just like the maids that worked here more than 100 years ago! If I am being a maid for the day, my dress is not as fancy and that makes it easier to move around and get my work done.maid dusting

While sometimes it can be hard work, having the house look neat and clean makes me feel very proud. I also have a lot of fun talking to kids like you about the chores. Sometimes I even get some help, which makes the work get done even faster! Are there chores at home you don’t like doing? doing the dishesDoing dishes is my least favorite chore, but it’s very important so we don’t attract bugs. Luckily, the Flynn Mansion has a sink with running water, which makes doing dishes much easier!

Though being a maid was hard work, it was a very important job to help keep the house looking nice. Even if you were a maid for a while, it didn’t mean it would be your job forever. Sometimes, after changing jobs or getting married, these former maids would have houses of their own and be in charge of their own maids. Ellen FlynnMrs. Flynn was a maid when she was a teenager. She grew up to be the owner of a mansion! Next time you come to Living History Farms, make sure to visit the Flynn Mansion and see if there is a maid or footman working around the house. We always love a helping hand!

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