Workshops and Entertainment for Servants

Starting in 1902, the Woman’s Club hosted sessions open to the community’s domestic workers “to stir up a sympathy between employer and employee and to let the light of culture in the regions ‘below stairs.'”

In these sessions, the Woman’s Club encouraged servants to give readings of classic literature and help them improve their pronunciation and reading abilities.

At the time, teaching servants how to read was controversial. One critic, quoted in the Chicago Daily, argued:

“The Wilmette women tried to entertain their servants in a way that the latter could not understand. It was all ridiculous and might spoil the girls.”

Club member Mrs. Davis argued instead:

“I think it perfectly proper to entertain the domestic in my home. The suburban servant girl probably has loftier instincts than we are accustomed to credit to her.”