National Association of Wage Earners

Headed by President Nannie H. Burroughs and Vice President Mary McLeod Bethune, the National Association of Wage Earners was organized in 1921 to standardize and elevate living conditions for women, particularly those who were migrant workers, and develop and encourage efficiency in African-American workers. In keeping with the Tayloresque ambitions of the decade, the goal was to raise domestic service to the level of a field that could be called "Domestic Science." Material in the Homemaker-Consumer Life in Washington, D.C., 1924 file in the Anna Kelton Wiley Papers indicates that the association particularly sought out "negro women engaged in domestic and personal service occupations in order to provide necessities for their families, and raise their own standard of living." (INTRO NOTE African Americans).

The association itself served as a labor organization, affording members the opportunity to work in a factory operated by the association, making work dresses, aprons and caps for sale by mail order. In addition, the association purchased a "Domestic Service Practice House" in Washington, D.C., which functioned as a domestic service center, with "practice rooms" for the demonstration and teaching of job and job-related skills.


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