Top of page

Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Domestic Workers United

In 2015, the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) received an Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center to document the occupational culture, oral histories, and work related experiences of domestic workers, many of them recently arrived immigrants, working as nannies, elder care providers, and housekeepers in private homes throughout the New York metropolitan area. The project was directed by BAC folklorist Christopher Mulé. BAC, a nonprofit arts agency, joined with Domestic Workers United (DWU), an advocacy organization based in New York, which represents Caribbean, Latina, and African nannies, housekeepers, homeworkers, and caregivers to interview several dozen domestic workers. Working closely with DWU members Patricia Francois and Christine Lewis, who served as lead interviewers, and other DWU members who served as additional interviewers and documentarians, Mulé and his team recorded the eloquent reflections of workers whose experiences are all too frequently overlooked. Topics include duties and responsibilities related to their jobs, the problems of both overt and subtle racism, and the challenges of working for employers who themselves often came from varied cultural backgrounds. Most interviews were conducted in English, but several are conducted in Spanish or Haitian Creole. (Translations are provided.) In a few cases, DWU arranged for "reciprocal interviews," in which two participants interviewed each other.

Go to Domestic Workers United collection items