Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants' Lives at Historic House Museums

Voices from the Back Stairs Interpreting Servants Lives at Historic House Museums Historic house museums one of the most prevalent types of history museums in the country have long depicted the owners of the house and their families but representing the servants has introduced a u

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  • Title: Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants' Lives at Historic House Museums
  • Author: Jennifer Pustz
  • ISBN: 9780875806228
  • Page: 181
  • Format: Paperback
  • Historic house museums one of the most prevalent types of history museums in the country have long depicted the owners of the house and their families, but representing the servants has introduced a unique set of challenges While museum professionals have increasingly incorporated women, immigrants, African Americans, and other minorities into portrayals of the past, thesHistoric house museums one of the most prevalent types of history museums in the country have long depicted the owners of the house and their families, but representing the servants has introduced a unique set of challenges While museum professionals have increasingly incorporated women, immigrants, African Americans, and other minorities into portrayals of the past, these portrayals often show an idealistic world without class antagonisms or ethnic conflict Exploring the domestic conflicts that may have existed between mistress and servant often creates a vivid and believable experience for guests.Through her examination of the pitfalls of interpretation, Pustz offers advice for museum professionals on programming accurate and compelling depictions of those who lived their lives in the back stairs and kitchen rather than in the parlor Based on extensive surveys of historians at historic house museums, this informative study presents examples of successful interpretation programs, including those that have made the kitchen and servants quarters the most popular stops on the tour Pustz encourages museum curators to look beyond the archives of their own institution and explore other era appropriate sources, including advertising and housekeeping guides, when trying to create a complete picture of the house s servants, who often left behind few records.

    One thought on “Voices from the Back Stairs: Interpreting Servants' Lives at Historic House Museums”

    1. A gold mine for historic house practitioners! Slow to start covering authenticity, history of house museums, brief historiography of interpreting servants at house museums, and the methodology and results from the author's extensive mail survey. Graphic representation of the survey results would have enhanced that chapter. Author comes into her own in the next 3 chapters and 2 photo essays. Chapter 3 outlines the issues behind the historic "servant problem" of finding and keeping good servants: [...]

    2. Voices from the Back Stairs was an easy read once you got going and I particularly enjoyed her discussions of both the history of servants in the United States and her case studies. But perhaps my favorite part of the book was the way she explained how necessary this type of interpretation is to what we do, and I now have a stack of quotes and resources to take to colleagues who may be less than enthusiastic about changes we need to be making. Perhaps the only change I would make would be to sho [...]

    3. This book beautifully explains the complexities and issues for museum interpreters as they approach the subject of domestic servants.

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