VIII.

CONJUGAL CONDITION, ILLITERACY AND HEALTH OFNEGRO

DOMESTICS.

Conjugal Condition.--The following table gives thefacts in the matter of conjugal condition of colored domestics inthe Seventh Ward of Philadelphia, by sex and age periods. It isbased upon 2289 records (see page 491):

Comparing the conjugal condition of Negro domestics with thatof all domestics, we have:

 

TABLE XXVI.

CONJUGAL CONDITION IN ALL AMERICAN DOMESTICSERVICE

COMPARED WITH CONJUGAL CONDITION AMONG COLORED

DOMESTIC SERVANTS IN PHILADELPHIA.

Conjugal Condition.
(All American
Domestic Servants.)

Male

Female

Per Cent

Per Cent

Single 46.18 69.85
Married 49.96 12.84
Widowed 3.59 16.32
Divorced .27 .99
  100.00 100.00

Conjugal Condition
(Colored Domestic
Servants in Philadelphia.)

Male

Female

Per Cent

Per Cent

Single 44.6 47.5
Married 51.0 33.1
Widowed 2.8 17.4
Divorced .7 1.9
Unknown .9 .1
  100.00 100.00

 

 


 

TABLE XXVI.

(Giving Number and Per Cent.)

CONJUGAL CONDITION OF COLORED DOMESTICSERVANTS IN PHILADELPHIA,

BY SEX AND AGE PERIODS.

 

Male

Female

Conjugal Condition Single Married Widowed Divorced
or
Separated
Total Single Married Widowed Divorced
or
Separated
Total
15 to 20 years 46 2 0 0 48 246 28 0 0 274
95.8% 4.2% 0 0 100% 89.8% 10.2% 0 0 100%
21 to 30 years 172 129 1 3 305 369 271 45 13 698
56.4% 42.3% 0.3% 1.0% 100% 52.9% 38.8% 6.5% 1.8% 100%
31 to 40 years 60 99 6 0 165 104 162 88 10 364
36.4% 60.0% 3.6% 0 100% 28.5% 44.5% 24.2% 2.8% 100%
41 and over 22 114 12 2 150 45 67 142 8 262
14.7% 76.0% 8.0% 1.3% 100% 17.2% 25.5% 54.2% 3.1% 100%
Age unknown 2 1 0 Unknown
Conj. Cond.
6
9 2 5 5 Unknown
Conj. Cond.
2
14

Totals

302 345 19 11 677 766 533 280 33 1612

 

This comparison of the conjugal condition of white and ofcolored domestics may advantageously be reduced to graphic formfor clearness. The first of these diagrams presents the facts ofconjugal condition among American domestics servants of allnationalities, as recorded in the eleventh census, while thesecond presents the same facts relating to colored domesticservants in Philadelphia.

 

 

A study of census statistics in connection with the results ofthis investigation seems to show a remarkably close parallelbetween the conjugal statistics of men servants, white andcolored. The disproportionate number of single white women isaccounted for by the great number of unmarried foreign-born whitewomen in American domestic service. This study of the conjugalcondition of domestic servants seems to corroborate the opinionof those employers who found colored people "very much lineother human beings."

Illiteracy.--The following table of illiteracy is basedupon 576 reports:

 

TABLE XXVIII.

ILLITURACY AMONG DOMESTIC SERVANTS, NEGROES,OF THE SEVENTH

WARD, PHILADELPHIA.

  Male Female

Total

No. Per Cent

Illiterate.

 
Cannot read or write 10 60 70 20.7
Cannot write 5 44 49

Literate

 
Able to read and write 109 267 376 65.3
Having a trade 7 11 18 3.1
Having a trade and some higher
school training
3 7 10 1.7
Having higher school training 22 31 53 9.2
Total 156 420 576 100.0

 

This table shows 9.6 per cent of the men and 24.8 per cent ofthe women in domestic service to be illiterate in some degree,with a total percentage of 20.7 illiterate, either wholly or inpart, while 80 per cent of the colored men and women in domesticservice have at least a common school education. Fourteen percent of the total count will be seen to have had some trainingabove that of the common schools, or to have attended anindustrial school.

The illiteracy of Negro servants is about 2 per cent greaterthan that of the total Negro population of the Seventh Ward. Thisis doubtless to be accounted for by the fact that 70 per cent ofcolored domestic servants are women, and the illiteracy ofcolored women is uniformly greater than that of colored men. Thiswill be seen by glancing at the per cents of illiteracy forcolored men and women servants, 9.6 per cent as opposed to 24.8per cent, and in the total population 14.2 per cent as opposed to24.1 per cert. In the whole population the sexes are about evenlybalanced in numbers; hence, in the general average for theilliteracy of the whole population, the rates for each sex wouldbear an equal part in the general result. A comparison of theseaverages shows that the men in domestic service are somewhat lessilliterate than the men in the whole population, while the womenin domestic service appear to be slightly behind the womenof the whole population.

The question will arise as to the relative illiteracy of Negrodomestics and of other domestics the country over. It isinteresting to make the comparison. The census of 1890 gives thepercentage of male illiterates in domestic and personal serviceas 18.9. This is the rate for all men servants in America, tenyears old and over and includes all nationalties, the nativewhites, foreign-born whites and colored. It is less creditablethan the record of the Philadelphia colored population by nearlyfive points, the record for Philadelphia's male Negroes ten yearsold and over being but 14.2 per cent. And it is only about halfas creditable as the record of colored domestic men servants,their per cent of illiteracy amounting to only 9.6. (The marginof error in the last is probably large, however, since it iscomputed upon but 156 cases.) The census shows for femaledomestic service the country over, including both native andforeign white, and colored women over ten years of age, a percent of illiteracy amounting to 24.75. Among colored womenservants in Philadelphia 24.80 are found to be illiterate. Thewhole colored population of Philadelphia improves slightly uponthis, showing for its women and girls 24.1 per cent ofilliteracy.

 

 

This comparison seems to indicate that the grade ofintelligence of women servants, white and colored, is practicallythe same, while the colored men servants are of a higher grade ofintelligence than are white men servants. The investigator isinclined to think that the average of illiteracy for colored menservants, though computed on so few records, fairly representsthe real conditions. It is not difficult to account for the greatdifference in records of colored and of white men servants whenone remembers the fact so often referred to, of the crowding outof competent and educated colored men, who have been clerks,teachers and skilled workmen, and who at one time or another havefound themselves in a position where they were obliged to takedomestic service or nothing. Large numbers of such men in theranks of domestic service would bring down the percentage ofilliteracy very decidedly. That it should reach the point of 9.6per cent is very creditable to the colored men servants if thefigures are correct, since the per cent of illiteracy for nativewhite males is not quite four points ahead of it, beinggiven by the census as 5.83 per cent.

Health Statistics for Domestic Servants.--The questions"Number of days sick in last twelve months?""Nature of illness ?" were answered by 547 domesticservants. The tabulation of their reports follows:

 

TABLE XXIX.

(Domestic Service.)

SICKNESS AND HEALTH DURING LAST TWELVE MONTHS,BY SEX.

Health
Record

Male

Female

Total

No. Per Cent No. Per Cent No. Per Cent
Not sick at
all during
last twelve
months
121 79.6 293 74.2 414 75.7
Ill one week
or less
7 4.6 33 8.4 40 7.3
Ill more than
one week
24 15.8 69 17.4 93 17.0
Total 152 100. 395 100. 547 100.

 

From this table it is seen that 80 per cent of the menhave not been ill at all during the year; while among thewomen 74 per cent have been exempt from illness. It isnoteworthy that the slightest illness appears to have beenconscientiously reported upon, since very nearly one-third of themen reporting illness were cases of colds or other such slighttroubles as kept them ill only a day or two; while rather morethan one-third of the women also scrupulously reported suchinsignificant illnesses. In this paper, however, the example ofthe Commissioner of Labor has been followed and "colds"have not been counted at all. Wherever, therefore, an illness ofone or two days is reported, it is of more serious nature than amere cold.

Of the 547 persons reporting, 3.1 per cent report seriousillness, of which 2.6 per cent belongs to the women and theremaining .5 per cent to the men.

The most prevalent troubles are consumption, la grippe,quinsy, sore throat, rheumatism, neuralgia, chills and fever, ordyspepsia and "inflammation," which latter term appearsto be a general name for all discomforts of the inner domesticfrom indigestion to peritonitis and sudden death.

Of those reporting illness seven of the thirty-one men will beseen to have been ill one week or less; while thirty-three of the102 women were ill one week or less. One maid reports a severeattack of la grippe but she "worked all the same,"losing not one day of work in the year. And Table VII will showthat this is no uncommon fact but that several of those reportingillness lose no time from work. While the women's sick list showsthirty-three ill one week or less, it shows sixty-nine who havehad longer periods of illness. Among the longest periods reportedare the following: "Out of work for three months on accountof trouble with the eyes, an operation for cataract;"another, out three or four months on account of weak lungs, says:"I never can work more than a few weeks to a time;"another, laid up three months with a sprained ankle; another,"sick from March to Christmas with rheumatism;"another, "four months sick with rheumatism, butworked;" another, five months sick with nervous shock causedby sudden death of her husband in an accident; one man has chillsand fever from time to time all the year round; another,"had rheumatism all winter but lost no working time." Acomparison of the length of illness tabulated below will showthat the records just quoted are unusual. Table XXIX gives thecomplete record of those who report illness within thepast twelve months.

 

TABLE XXX.

(Domestic Service.)

PERSONS SICK OR INJURED, BY SEX, BY KIND OFAILMENT OR INJURY

AND BY LENGTH OF ILLNESS.

Kind of
Ailment, etc.
Male Female
No. Period of Illness No. Period of Illness
Days Weeks Mos. Days Weeks Mos.
Abscess 1 . 8 . 1 1 . .
" . . . . 1 . 2 .
Accident (to hand) 1 . 2 . 1 2 . .
" 1 . . 1 1* . . 3
Asthma . . . . 1 . 3 .
Biliousness 1 3 or 4 . . 1 3 . .
Chills and fever 1 . . 1 . 2 .
Consumption . . . . 1 . . 3 1/2
" . . . . 1 . . 3
" . . . . 1 . . 3
Cramps . . . . 1 1 . .
Dyspepsia . . . . 1 . .
" . . . . 1 . .
" and kidney trouble . . . . 1 10 . .
Erysipelas 1 . . . . . .
Eyes, inflammation . . . . 1 . 2 3
" operation for cataract . . . . 1 . . .
Felon . . . . 1 . 6 .
Headache 1 2 . . 1 4 . .
Injury to back . . . . 1 . 6 .
Internal ailment . . . . 1 6 . .
" " . . . . 1 . 3 .
" " . . . . 1 . 1 2
" " . . . . **1 . . .
La grippe 1 5 . . 1 1 . .
" 4 . 2 . 1 2 . .
" . . . . 1 . 3 .
" . . . . 1 . 4 .
" . . . . 1 . 5 .
" . . . . 2 . 8 .
" . . . . 1 . .
Malarial fever 1 . 3 . . . . .
Neuralgia . . . . 1 . 2 .

* Broken leg
Intermittent ("loses no time").
"Few days."
Unknown ("worked all time")
Unknown.
Result of heavy lifting.
** Hemorrhage.
Unknown ("worked all time.")

 


 

TABLE XXX. -- Continued.

 

Kind of
Ailment, etc.
Male Female
No. Period of Illness No. Period of Illness
Days Weeks Mos. Days Weeks Mos.
Neuralgia . . . . 1 . . 2
" . . . . 1 . . 3
" . . . . 1 . . 4
Neuritis . . . . 1 . . 2
Operation (surgical) . . . . 1 . . 1
Pleurisy . . . . 1 . . 2
Quinsy . . . . 1 10 . .
" . . . . 1 * . .
" . . . . 2 2 . .
" . . . . 1 3 . .
" . . . . 1 . 2 .
Rheumatism 1 . 2 . . . . .
" 1 . . 1 . .
" . . . . 1 . . 2
" . . . . 1 . 6 .
" . . . . 1 . . 4
" . . . . 1 . . 3 to 9
Shock (nervous) . . . . 1 . . 5.
Sprained ankle . . . . 1 . . 3
Stomach;"inflammation" of . . . . 1 . 1 .
" " . . . . 1 . 2 .
" " . . . . 1 . 3 .
" " . . . . 1 . . 1
" " . . . . 1 . 7 .
" " . . . . 1 . . 2
Tape-worm removed . . . . 3 2 . .
Typhoid fever . . . . 1 . 2 .
" . . . . 1 . . 2
Unknown 1 1 . . 4 3 . .
" 1 2 . . 1 4 . .
" 1 5 . . 2 5 . .
" 1 . 1 . 1 10 . .
" 3 . 2 . 1 16 . .
" 2 . 2 or 3   5 . 1 .
" 1 10 . . 9 . 2 .
" 1 15 . . 6 . 3 .
" 1 19 . . 1 . 4 .
" 1 . 3 . 3 . 6 .
" 2 . . 2 3 . . 1
" 1 . . 3 3 . . 2
" . . . . 1 . . 3
Total 31       102      

 

* Week ("worked all time").
"All winter but worked all time"
Few days.

 

This table is found to aggregate 415 weeks of illness duringthe year, to be distributed among 547 persons, giving an averageloss of work time for illness of about four-fifths of a week perindividual during the year.20

Health of colored domestic servants in the Seventh Ward duringthe last twelve months is shown in the diagram which follows:

 

 

 

ENDNOTES:

20 It may be of interest to compare this resultwith the following table taken from Professor Mayo Smith's"Statistics and Sociology," which table, the authorsays, is "based upon the experience of the largest and mostimportant Friendly Society in England, which gives aid to memberswhen they are ill, the Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows,comprising 400,000 members." The table is as follows:

 

Age

Average Sickness per Individual
Per Annum (in Weeks).

Male

Female

15-20 years 666 666
20-25 " 737 737
25-45 " 995 995
45-65 " 2736 2751
15-65 " 1314 1334

 

Omitting the 45-65 period, which is not fairly comparable withthe ages of colored domestic servants (their average age being30.3), it will be seen that the average illness among the Englishworking people is nearly the same as that among colored domesticsof the same age. The English Sick Benefit Society showing anaverage of .799 as compared with .759 for colored servants, theslight difference being to the advantage of the colored servants.

 

 

 

From W.E.B. DuBois, The PhiladelphiaNegro. New York: Lippincott, 1899, Special Report (PartVIII), pp. 490-499.


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