Historical Reflections

Gwinn Servant Job Descriptions


DAYS OFF 9:00 PM Tuesday to 7:00 AM Thursday. Arrange plans with the parlor-maid to take your place. Every other Sunday after dinner dishes are washed, pantry clean, until 7:00 AM Monday.

TIME OFF Every other evening after dinner dishes are washed, pantry clean until 7:00 AM.

7:00 AM Put the dog out. All thermostats at 74.

Open curtains and air house. Air and straighten the morning room. Set breakfast table. Have coffee tray with everything but hot cups and coffee on it. Prepare grapefruit or oranges night before with sugar for Mr. Mather or guests. Put newspaper on settee in hall (Parlor maid assists with trays for bedrooms).

7:30 AM Return blackened shoes to Mr. Mather’s room. Turn on heat, open curtains, shut window, layout clothes in dressing room. Take away clothes needing pressing & shoes for cleaning. Same for guests. Tie Mr. Mather’s shoes on call.

7:45 AM Staff Breakfast. Be prompt to all meals.

8:15 AM Watch for family to notify cook when family are down, so table service will be prompt. Put floor lamp near Mr. M’s chair at breakfast table. (unless light outdoors.)

Serve watchfully. During fruit course, bring coffee and hot cups to table. Use side table if there are guests.

Leave toast on table unless there are guests.

When chauffeur rings front door bell, be at door to give Mr. M his hat, coat, file & cane. Straighten morning room breakfast as soon as possible, wash breakfast dishes, straighten up pantry, turn out lights, unless need to help Mr. M with coat etc.

Dust and sweep dining room. Clean thoroughly weekly (cupboards &.)

Wash pantry floor daily, preferably at night. Keep pantry shelves clean & nothing on counters. Keep all silver put away, and silver cupboards locked. Clean silver weekly and as needed.

Press Mr. Mathers clothes. Keep mended, and clean. Have dry cleaned when needed. Clean all shoes.

Answer all bells promptly. Notify parlor maid when absent from pantry, so telephones & bells will be answered. (See telephone chart over telephone.)

All express Packages are to be taken by butler (except very large ones) to upstairs office.

When magazines come on parlor maid’s day off, the upstairs maid replaces old ones in morning room and distributes mail.

12:00 PM STAFF DINNER (prompt)

1:00 PM Rest after serving luncheon until 3:00 PM (except days of entertaining).

Prepare arrangements for tea when asked for. Mrs. M’s day at home is Friday.

All tea-equipment & cold food must be in place at 4:30 PM. Chairs, tables, & as needed.

Parlor maid assists in room, only when more than 3 guests. Prompt service. Watch for second cup of tea, and take away cups when guest is finished.

Lay out Mr. M’s dinner party clothes of needed, before 5:00 PM. On day out, arrange morning clothes before leaving.

5:00 PM STAFF SUPPER (prompt) except when there is afternoon entertaining.)

Curtains are drawn in all windows when very dark, & lights lighted. Light foot of stairs earlier and on dark days.

Lights. 2 driveway lights (clothes closet) (Street lights only when there are parties).

Vestibule light and outside door.

Hall. All lights. (Cabinet lights for parties.)

Library. All lights above lounge at sides. (Light these only when guests.)

Office. All lights. Mr. M wants 1 light on table and 1 on desk burning in daytime, except when he is away.

Music room. Lower lights of chandelier. When guests, all lights.

Dining room. Do not light unless dinner is being served, or silver & being put out. Candles and center chandelier lights only when there are guests.

Morning room. Floor lamp & side light & center, only at meal time.

6:45 PM Cocktails; Announce to each member of family & guests. When guests arrive for dinner, announce their names at door of library. When family are alone, pass cocktails and leave canapes on table nearby. If guests, pass several times and give watchful service, taking glasses from guests when they are finished. Glasses are to be picked up by parlor maid when the family are at dinner.

7:00 PM Announce dinner, and seat Mrs. M, Mr. M and guests at table. Serve meal promptly.

Remain in dining room and watch service and needs of guests and family.

After dinner, seat Mr. M. Pass cigars and Matches. Bring in coffee. See that the fire is burning.

Finish cleaning up pantry and putting away dishes.

9:00 PM Put drinking water glasses on smoking table. Pass white rock and glasses of water, when there are guests.

When there are no guests, close up house for the night. When there are guests, stay up until they leave, and see them into their cars. Turn out all lights except room occupied by family, office table lights, hall and hall-stairs.


Write out requisition slip for any items needing replacement, other than rooms taken care of by parlor maid.

Electric bulbs are replaced only when note is put on upstairs chest in hall together with requisition slip stating watts, and room, together with burnt out bulb.

Place any broken article on Mrs. M’s desk.

Notify houseman when fires need replacing. In evening, see that fires used during day are either replaced or kept burning.

In summer, when thermometer goes above 72, all windows and doors to keep house cool.

Please discuss any misunderstanding with Mrs. Mather and not with members of staff. This is professional etiquette, and worthy of your work.

Please do not mention your wages to others on staff. This is your own, private, business.

Please be loyal to the family. Nothing is more appreciated by them.


(The parlor-maid waitress is an assistant to the butler, consequently, his wishes, as well as Madam’s, must be promptly, cheerfully, and efficiently carried out. Be alert to things needed to be done, and do them. Please respond to Mrs. Mather with “Yes, Madam”.)

DAYS OFF: 9:00 P.M. every Monday evening to Wednesday at 7:00 A.M.

Every other Sunday afternoon and evening, after dinner dishes are washed, until Monday at 7:00 A.M.

TIME OFF: Rest (except days of entertaining) from 3:30 to 5:00 P.M.


7:00 A.M. Sweep front stairs with small, stiff brush (against grain). Dust woodwork, straighten office and library taking any dead flowers from all rooms; empty ashtrays; puff up cushions even with edge of chairs and sofa. When there are guests for breakfast assist butler with service and with trays.

Sweep and dust office before breakfast.

7:30 A.M. Staff breakfast. Be prompt.

ROOM WORK: Organize work so that family does not see work being done. Sweep, dust, straighten stair railing, living and dining rooms, music room, flower arrangements, lavatories, closets, being careful to put everything back in place. Dust windows and sills, Venetian blinds; and books should be kept clean and straight. Table tops should be kept oiled, pictures dusted and evened. Clean ashtrays. Replace cigarettes as needed. Watch for finger marks on woodwork; wipe off with damp cloth, drying immediately. Notify butler when fires need to be laid. Watch for cobwebs on ceilings and walls. Spray weekly for moths in summer. Replace toilet paper, soap, towels and pins in powder room and lavatories as needed. Wash in and around lavatories daily; use ammonia twice weekly when cleaning lavatories. Keep pantry supply shelves, icebox and drawers clean and in order. Leave nothing on pantry counter shelf. Notify butler about burned-out bulbs. Report anything broken or needing repair to butler. Answer telephone or bells when butler cannot be on duty.

FLOWER ROOM: Keep clean, neat and dusted. Floor mopped. Leave no flowers in vases. Wash out when used. Do not throw away usable flowers. Notify gardener if extra flowers are needed other than on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday deliveries. Have especially nice flower arrangements on Thursday. Clean flower room after arrangements are complete. Save some flowers for up-stairs needs.

CLEANING: Wash floors of lavatories once weekly or as needed. Keep cleaning closet neat, clothes washed and counted. Clean one room thoroughly each day, then a general cleaning day is not needed. Vacuum upholstered furniture; wipe woodwork; clean hearths; shake and brush draperies; dust bric-a-brac; dust picture frames—using feather duster for frames only; dust lamps; clean out table drawers. Dust all books on top, front and sides without taking out except at housecleaning time.

12:00 NOON: Staff dinner. Be prompt.

LUNCHEON: Assist butler in making canapes and lay out linen. (Be responsible for mending and pressing linen.) Assist butler in serving and washing dishes. See that living room is ready for guests; cigarettes, matches etc. Remove canapes, etc., when guests are at table.

REST: 3:30 to 5:00 P.M. except days of entertaining.

5:00 P.M. Staff dinner – Be prompt.

TEA: Equipment and cold eatables must be in place at 4:00 P.M. Hot things, only, are brought in when Mrs. Mather rings. Assist at tea table if there are more than three (3) for tea. Give watchful service. Wash tea dishes.

6:00 P.M. Assist butler in preparing canapes; (cocktails are announced at 6:45 P.M.; dinner table serving and washing dishes. Remove canapes etc. during 1st course. Clean up pantry. Wash dishes, no articles to be left on counters. Do not leave light in pantry when not occupied.

ALTERNATE: Evenings being responsible for 8:30 o’clock drinking water brought to family and placed on table; lock all doors, front, side doors, basement stairs and flower-room. Turn out house light except in room where family may be reading, leave one in office, one at foot of stairs and south wall of living room. Turn out drive lights, porches, etc.

SPECIAL SERVICE: When upstairs maid is out, you take her place. She takes yours on your days off. Tray to Mrs. Mather, makes beds, straighten occupied rooms and baths when family or guests leave their rooms.

LINEN: Be responsible for putting away all table linen correctly (except kitchen). If anything is torn or needs mending, keep in pile in a sewing basket until you can mend them. Keep all table linen neat, mended, and correctly folded. You have full charge of table linen. Place small hand towels in music-room and office lavatories, as needed.

MEALS: Be dressed and on duty for lunch, dinner, and tea when ordered, to assist butler in getting table ready and attending to pantry work, washing dishes, and cleaning up. When there are guests, you will assist in serving meal in dining room, also after dinner coffee (hold tray while butler pours coffee), or any other assistance butler requires. For informal teas of three, you will not need to assist in serving, but should assist butler in preparation. Do not assist in dining room when family is alone except as butler requests.


Press “L” (local” to see if it is a house call. If there is no answer, press #1 or #2 (outside).

Say:“Mrs. Mather’s residence”.

“May I ask who is speaking?”

“Will you please hold the wire and I will find her.”

To ring Mrs. Mather for outside calls (local ones cannot be transferred), press “H” hold, press “L” local dial number. Dial number of where Mrs. Mather is. If Mrs. Mather is out, say:

“Mrs. Mather is not in. Who may I say called?”

Write out name, hour, and leave it on hall table.

If Mrs. Mather is at a meal or in the basement, say:

“Mrs. Mather is ………May I take the message or ask her to call?”


Your afternoon on duty, answer bells promptly. Carry tray for front door guests. Never leave anyone standing outside unless a beggar or suspicious looking person. If on business, ask them to be seated in hall. (Ask their names.) If a caller, show into music room, unless a personal guest (familiar). Then the living room. Say, “May I tell Madam who is calling?” If family is in living room, stand at door and announce name of caller.

Telegrams should be delivered promptly. Carry on tray. When guest arrive for a meal, (and butler answers door), be in Music Room before they arrive so you can assist them. At formal parties, be in Music Room when they depart.

IF GUESTS OR FAMILY ARRIVE from out of town, be at door to assist butler with coats, bags. Take these item except heavy bags (which butler will take) to upstairs maid or to room occupied by guests or family


Be very neat and trim in appearance. Think of the comfort and convenience of family and guests. The art of homemaking is attention to instructions, skillful work, attention to little details of the home, combined with the spirit of helpfulness, good service, and understanding. Be loyal to employers. Be close mouthed. Learn to care for those whom you serve and you have a right to expect kindness and consideration in return.

Report anything broken or out of order or needing repair, to butler, who will call it to Mrs. Mather’s attention immediately it is notices. Notify butler if you notice fires need laying or need attention. Burned-out bulbs are replaced immediately. Tell butler. When on duty, sort and deliver mail. Magazines all should be placed in rack in morning-room. Periodicals on table. Take old ones to maids’ dining room.

Please respond “Yes, Madam” always.

When supplies or replacements are needed write list and put on Mrs. Mather’s desk. Burned-out bulbs are placed on upstairs hall table with note stating voltage. Report anything broken or needing repair. Put broken items on Mrs. M’s desk. Sort and deliver mail.

In winter, notify butler to ask houseman to lay fires when needed. Keep thermostat at 72.

In hot weather, keep curtains down on South side of house in morning till noon, and in hot weather keep curtains down on North side of house in afternoon.

Replace toilet paper as needed. Do not fill too full. Watch for cobwebs in summer around window sills. Save all tissue paper. Fold, and put in linen room drawer. When traveling guests arrive, be at door to take wraps.

Are curtains even? Do pictures hang straight on wall? If soap in bathroom and washroom, powder room? Floors clean? Closets clean and orderly?

Be responsible for quota of supply cloths listed in supply closet in back hall.

Please be loyal to your employer. It will be appreciated

If there is any misunderstanding about work, please discuss it with Mrs. Mather and not with members of the staff. This is a professional etiquette, and worthy of your work.

Be responsible for ironing your uniforms, aprons, collars and cuffs, keep in good order, mended, etc. Check these with the list on your door.


MORNING: 3 hemstitched edge with collars to match.

3 rick rack edge with collars to match

2 cleaning aprons to wear over apron in pantry

AFTERNOON: 3 plain organdy scallop with collars


3 dotted Swiss fabric with collars

2 lace insert organdy with collars

(teas/luncheons) 1 leaf organdy with collars & cuffs

1 dot edge organdy with collars & cuffs

1 scroll organdy with collars & cuffs

(best) 1 tucks organdy with collars & cuffs

1 daisy organdy with collars & cuffs


MORNING: 3 green dresses

AFTERNOON: 2 black silk



When there are guests, arrange their breakfast trays. Awaken them at time agreed upon. Open curtains, straighten bathrooms.

When guest leaves room, open bed and windows to air room. When Mr. Jim is at home, care for his room as follows:

Straighten room, hanging up clothes etc. If shoes need cleaning, give to butler. If clothes need pressing or mending, take to sewing room to be done.

Give men’s clothes to butler.

Make, bed, very tight lower sheet.

Dust, sweep, even curtains, dust windows and sills.

Keep bureau and cabinet drawers clean and in order. Keep ink in inkwell – fresh blotters etc.

Take flower vases down to flower room and keep fresh flowers in occupied bedrooms.

In winter notify butler of fires need laying.

Wind clocks same day each week.


Wash out tub, wash washstand, soap dish etc. Straighten towels, put fresh ones as needed, wash out wash cloths.

Keep medicine cabinets orderly and clean. Wash in and around toilets daily.

Wipe and wash floors as needed.


At dark, pull down window shades and draw curtains in occupied rooms.

Turn down beds between 8 and 9 o’clock. Re-tuck lower sheet, so it will be very tight and firm.

Lay out night clothes, slippers etc.

Bring thermos bottle of cold water to rooms.

Straighten room and bathroom, if necessary.

See that windows are closed in case of storm (daytime also).

In hot weather, have all curtains on south side of house pulled down till noon.

In hot weather, have all curtains on north side of house pulled down in the afternoon.



7:00 AM Winter. Check Furnace, lay fires. Sweep snow path at vestibule, pergola to east wall; porches. Feed birds, keeping water in basin.

Summer. Wipe clean, and straighten, N. & S. porch furniture.

9:00 AM Wash vestibule floor daily, woodwork as needed.

Sweep pavement around pool daily. Clean porch steps, pool level to lake in summer.

Sweep & straighten pergolas & teahouse daily (in summer; as needed in winter.)

Brush & arrange furniture. Keep clean. (also, wild garden).

Keep Box Room neat. Freeze ice cream Sunday mornings or when called upon.


10:00 AM Mondays.

Clean bathroom, billiard-room, hall stairs. Vacuum runners.

Repairs. Wash woodwork as needed.


Wash windows. Thresholds, screens or storm windows, outside.

Special windows should have special attention.


Same as above, inside.

Clean basement.


Clean & polish floors. Wax 3 times yearly, letting wax stand 1 hr. before polishing. Thresholds waxed oftener.

Clean brasses as needed. (fireplaces, door handles, elec. Switches, &.)


Summer. Wash (& occasionally wax) pergolas & porches’ floors in morning.

Clean all outside furniture.

Winter. Painting day (for screens, odd jobs). Repairs.


Summer. Wash and clean back porch. Rake back lawn & drive, keep yard orderly.

Winter. Keep yard orderly. Repairs.

Saturday afternoon off.


All repair orders, except emergencies, come thru Mrs. Mather. Butler will notify houseman to replace electric bulbs in sockets needing a ladder. Messages about work may be relayed to and from Mrs. Mather by butler.

Write out all supplies needed and give to butler for Mrs. Mather.

Work may have to be interrupted for convenience of Mrs. Mather.

No tools or supplies are borrowed outside of house except by Mrs. Mather. Keep all tools neat, and know where things are kept in the basement.

Any time you wish to see Mrs. Mather, ask butler to arrange a time.

Vacation, with pay, after 1 years’ service.

Do not discuss grievances with Mrs. Mather.

Wages. 1st and 15th of month. $250