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Dutch housemaids

Owner: Barbara Henkes
Time period: 1920 - 1950
Number of interviews: 28
Accessibility: Contact for access.
Transcripts: Unknown

Barbara Henkes (1955); historian and journalist; active in the Groningen women’s movement and the CPN 1979-1982; received her PhD in 1995 with Heimat in Holland. German maids 1920-1950; publishes in the field of women’s studies, oral history and 20th century history; affiliated to the University of Groningen. These interviews with Dutch maids formed the basis for the book Kaatje ben je boven?


Javastraat The Hague, ca. 1900

Kaatje, ben je boven? : leven en werken van Nederlandse dienstbodes 1900- 1940

Authors: Barbara Henkes, Hanneke Oosterhof

Publisher: Sun, Nijmegen, 1985

EAN: 9789061682424

PDF of the publication

Deep into the 20th century, countless young, unmarried women were employed as servants: as morning maids, chamber or kitchen maids, day maids or farm maids. Why did they go into employment? How did they get a shift? What did they have to do? And were they prepared for it? What made a shift a good or a bad job? How did maids survive the tension between social distance and personal involvement within the employer’s family? The Kaatjes, Dina’s and Betsies regularly appear in literature, but in historiography the servant’s existence has hardly been addressed. Barbara Henkes and Hanneke Oosterhof open up this side of the often ‘hidden’ power relations within the private sphere and show how social developments affected it. They do so on the basis of archive material, trade union and women’s magazines, but also and especially on the basis of interviews with dozens of women who look back on their life as servants.