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Geographic and Social Mobility of Female Domestic Servants in Zeeland, 1850-1950 (MFZ)

Dienstbodes
'Servants, the worst plague of life'. (coll: IISH, Amsterdam)
This project was a joint project with the University of Utrecht and the Inter-universitary Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS). Its aim was to build a data file for use in doctoral thesis research by mrs. dr H. Bras. Her supervisors were prof. dr. H.B.G. Ganzeboom and prof. dr. J.M.W.G. Lucassen.

The MFZ project was aimed at the reconstruction of the life careers of women born between 1835 and 1927 on the islands of Noord- en Zuid-Beveland, Schouwen-Duiveland, Tholen and St. Philipsland. The HSN sample contained 600 of them, 450 of whom passed the age of fifteen. Sisters were added to the sample, with a maximum of one in each family. This lead to a total sample of approximately 730 women. The researcher focussed on the life opportunities of domestic servants compared to other female and male occupations. The research tried to answer the question of how these life opportunities depended on parental environment, migration and the employer's status.

Data were gathered referring to migration, marriage, family situation at the time of birth and at entry into the labour force, income and real estate of the fathers, employers and spouses. The gathering of data took two years and started in 1997. The definitive release was in 1999. The results of this project were presented by Hilde Bras on several conferences, and in a publication called 'Domestic service, migration and the social status of women at marriage. The case of a Dutch sea province, Zeeland, 1820-1935', in: Historical Social Research 23 (1998).

June 10th, 2002, Hilde Bras presented her thesis Zeeuwse meiden. Dienen in de levensloop van vrouwen, ca. 1850-1950, at the University of Utrecht.

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