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Matrons and Maids

Regulating Indian Domestic Service in Tucson, 1914–1934

Victoria K. Haskins

Publication Year: 2012

From 1914 to 1934 the US government sent Native American girls to work as domestic servants in the homes of white families. Matrons and Maids tells this forgotten history through the eyes of the women who facilitated their placements. During those two decades, “outing matrons” oversaw and managed the employment of young Indian women. In Tucson, Arizona, the matrons acted as intermediaries between the Indian and white communities and between the local Tucson community and the national administration, the Office of Indian Affairs.

Based on federal archival records, Matrons and Maids offers an original and detailed account of government practices and efforts to regulate American Indian women. Haskins demonstrates that the outing system was clearly about regulating cross-cultural interactions, and she highlights the roles played by white women in this history. As she compellingly argues, we cannot fully engage with cross-cultural histories without examining the complex involvement of white women as active, if ambivalent, agents of colonization.

Including stories of the entwined experiences of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women that range from the heart-warming to the heart-breaking, Matrons and Maids presents a unique perspective on the history of Indian policy and the significance of “women’s work.”

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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p. v-v

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1. Introduction: The Outing Matrons of Tucson

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pp. 1-17

One late spring day in Tucson, Arizona, in 1933, when outing matron Gracie Taylor finally made herself sit down and write the report that the Office of Indian Affairs at Washington, DC, had demanded, she found herself utterly unable to do so. She hardly knew how to ...

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2. “Herein may lie the solution to the servant-girl question—”: Gender, Race, and Outing

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pp. 18-34

In 1902, a syndicated article out of the Chicago press appeared in various southwestern newspapers with the rather startling headline, “Poor Lo as House Servant.” Students from the Indian boarding schools in the Southwest were now “being employed very rapidly ...

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3. “The good an outing matron can do”: The Start of Outing in Tucson, 1913–1914

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pp. 35-53

It was 1913, the year after Arizona became a state, when the push began in earnest for the appointment of an outing matron in Tucson. Henry J. McQuigg, the Indian Service superintendent of the San Xavier agency, had been asked to supply the numbers of girls and ...

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4. “Naturally a trouble-maker”: Minnie Estabrook, 1914–1915

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pp. 54-77

Minnie Estabrook alighted from a Southern Pacific Railroad carriage to take up her appointment as Tucson’s new outing matron on May 8, 1914. In her mid-thirties, well built, stylish, and animated, she made a striking figure. She wasted no time in making her presence ...

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5. “I try to keep the girls from going to the dances”: Janette Woodruff, 1915–1929

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pp. 78-106

Tohono O’odham Peter Blaine recalled Janette Woodruff as the person who helped his wife and other girls and women find work. “I remember her because all the young Papago girls used to go to her place to have their gatherings,” Blaine told his biographer Michael ...

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6. “A worthy, industrious people”: Libbie Light, 1929–1932

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pp. 107-133

To say Libbie Light was gratified when she got the news of her transfer to Tucson would be an understatement. Light had been waiting for years for such a position, well before her husband, a former superintendent at the Truxton Canon agency in northern Arizona, ...

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7. “Mrs. Taylor calls it ‘messenger work’”: Gracie Taylor, 1932–1934

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pp. 134-156

When Gracie’s mother died and her preacher father went away, her brother and sister were only little children, and she was not much older. Taken in by their Quaker grandparents in northern Michigan, the children stayed there until young Gracie married Aaron Taylor, ...

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8. “—For a time, at least”: History and the Outing Matrons

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pp. 157-166

On the eve of Doris Weston’s appointment at Tucson in July 1934, the state supervisor of Indian education, Richard Tisinger, expressed the hope that the planned arrangement for Mrs. Pablo to assist Weston would go ahead: “They should make a good pair.” ...

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pp. 167-168

This book would never have come to be, had not the wonderful, and extremely knowledgeable, Gwen Granados first drawn my attention to some little-known records of these women who worked for the Indian Service in Arizona, when I was visiting the National ...


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pp. 169-209


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pp. 211-224


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pp. 225-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599400
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816529605

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2012