Tragically Over Worked - Under Paid

+3 votes
During our present era as we're becoming acutely aware of how much our culture consistently over looks how much Black Lives Matter, are we researching the relationship of Domestic help in the south after the Civil War? I'm researching my mother's southern family and came across an 1880 Georgian Census where there are 2 women mentioned. I know that southern families were deeply dependent on their domestic help, especially while raising children. Even as late as just before WWII, my half brother and half sister were raised by Nannies in New Orleans. I'm wondering if there's any work being done around these unsung "heroes" and how they're reflected in Family Trees.
in The Tree House by Amanda Torrey G2G6 Mach 1 (13.4k points)
edited by Amanda Torrey

Hi, Amanda --

I just added the tag for the US Black Heritage Project to your post. This project has just been brought back to life (and renamed), and the project members may be able to share information with you about any research covering this subject.

Somewhat relevant to this topic: I started a profile recently for Georgia Gilmore, who worked as a cook at the time of the bus strike in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1950s. She put her talents to work to help raise money to support the protest.

(She was covered by the New York Times in their Overlooked No More series.)

OK, that's exciting! How would I follow this thread?
It looks like you have room to add some tags to your profile. So just go to and add "black_heritage" to your tag list.

Then you'll be able to follow any posts in G2G with that tag.

For this post, specifically, you'll get notified of anyone who responds because the "email me" checkbox on new posts is selected by default. (If you edit your message, you'll see that checkbox at the bottom of the message window.)

You can also use the "plus" sign on the upper right, to make any g2g question thread a favourite, so you can find it again whenever you want.

2 Answers

+3 votes
Hi Amanda, I don't think there is any data field having to do with an individual's occupation.  You would need to enter that in the profile biography, such as an === Occupation === section.
by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (586k points)
I'm thinking that there is something very different about Slaves turned domestic help in the south. We can think about servants to European aristocracy were not paid, but probably lived in the castle or premises which didn't happen with the help down south. They were paid, but hardly what you'd consider worth mentioning. Or maybe we should mention a point of reference. This was cultural and expected. Every white southern person, even the poorest southern person had a black servant. I'll bet someone somewhere on Wikitree had parents or family that fit this "category?"

I'm don't think this is so much occupation (maybe) but more human interest?

Some examples:

from Wikipedia:,slaves%20and%20because%20of%20the


I'm a poor voice as my mother left the south to live in Denver Colorado in 1951 with her son and daughter. She bought a house and turned it into a kind of bed and breakfast where she met my father, a bricklayer from Central Pennsylvania. I am NOT in ANY position to speak for people who could only get work as a domestic in white households for decades, perhaps even up to now...I don't know. I don't want to be unfair. But there's a discussion worth having here by someone that has more experience with this than me.

+1 vote

Hi, Amanda. I ran in to the same kind of situation during the Connect-a-Thon. You can see how I handled it on this profile for Robert Cooper and those linked for Gene Lane and Wesly Reeves. Maybe that will give you some ideas.

edited to add: If you're interested in joining the project, here's a link to the US Black Heritage Project's join post:

by Debi Hoag G2G6 Pilot (343k points)
Very well written bio on Mr Cooper.

If the household/location, occupation, aging and name match between the two census years, it's probably the same person.

Do you like any of the categories for him that are above-outlined by Natalie Trott?
Thanks, Fann. It's not the same household nor occupation between the two censuses; hence my hesitation on Robert being the same person.

I hadn't thought to add the occupation categories, so I've added the one that I know is for sure his and added the one for the potential record. Maybe it will help someone make the connection.

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