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Caring for AmericaHome Health Workers in the Shadow of the Welfare State$
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Eileen Boris and Jennifer Klein

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780195329117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329117.001.0001

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Neither Nurses nor Maids

Neither Nurses nor Maids

Chapter:
(p.19) 1 Neither Nurses nor Maids
Source:
Caring for America
Author(s):

Eileen Boris

Jennifer Klein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195329117.003.0001

This chapter locates the origins of home care as a distinct occupation in the visiting housekeeper programs of the New Deal. With private social welfare agencies and public hospitals reeling from the Great Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided jobs for unemployed middle-aged women, mostly African American, to substitute for incapacitated mothers as a form of reverse foster care and attend to chronically ill and aged people in their own homes. Gender and racial divisions of labor, government funding, close cooperation between private organizations and government agencies, and provider and recipient poverty shaped the home care project. While welfare administrators treated the visiting housekeeper as above the maid, Congress classified them, like family carers, as domestics excluded from labor standards and collective bargaining. Nurses determined to restrict any home care encroachment upon their responsibilities. The legacies of the New Deal persisted for the rest of the century.

Keywords:   visiting housekeeper, new deal, domestic servants, Works Progress Administration (WPA), nurses, public hospital, Mary Jarrett, Maud Morlock, U.S. Children’s Bureau

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