Jun 02, 2022 - Sale 2607

Sale 2607 - Lot 78

Price Realized: $ 4,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 300 - $ 500
Harvard College's House Cleaning Team.
Salt Print, circa 1863.

Large photo by George Kendall Warren (1834-1884), trimmed to an oval and mounted on an album page, the image outlined in pencil; showing a group of thirteen women, (nine standing, four seated), a variety of ages, each woman in a long dress or skirt, some with knitted shawls, several wearing aprons, several holding dusters, rags, and brooms; and one in a kerchief; their garments mostly patterned, plaid, or dark; posing outside a large brick building with flat brick columns and windows above their heads; the image 8 x 6 in. on a 12 3/4 x 9 1/2 in. page, likely taken from a yearbook.

Harvard College maintained a cleaning staff to tend to the residents of student housing until 1950. A variety of demeaning terms were used to describe these under-recognized hard-working women, including goodies, maids, sweeps, and biddies. These positions were eliminated when the university suspected that they might demand higher wages, at which time the school turned to its own students to clean up after themselves. (see also https://www.photographymuseum.com/selex02.html [and] https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/05/picturing-harvards-past/)