Looking for some info on late 1800s USA

Mar 2019
2
England
#1
Hi all,
just joined to hopefully get some info on a couple of quick questions for something i'm writing.

1) Regarding slaves in the South, was this limited to plantations? all the stuff i find on google seems specifically about this, i was wondering what a household of a rich mine owner or lumber baron would be staffed by?
2) Regarding schooling, i believe normal schools was up to about age 15, did people then go to college or straight into work? Was the general situation for girls any different? Much of the stuff i've seen about "Southern belles" implies they didn't have trades, but that might jus tbe internet inaccuracy?

thanks in advance.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,514
Dispargum
#2
Some slaves were employed as domestic servants. In the ante-bellum South, most domestic servants were probably slaves.

American education draws a line between eighth grade (age 14) and ninth grade (15). Most 19th century children in the North stopped going to school after 8th grade. Much of the South did not invest in public education until after the Civil War. Planters usually hired private tutors to educate their children. Many rural whites learned to read out of the family Bible. Even today, parts of the South are called the Bible Belt in part because in the 19th century the Bible was the only book that many people ever read. I once read in a Union soldier's diary of a time when he visited a local plantation. The planter's daughter was surprised to learn that he, a 'mere' sergeant from Massachusetts, had twelve years of schooling while she claimed to be the most educated person in that North Carolina county with only three years of school. Even in the North it was common for children to stop school in their early teens and go to work. Only children of the wealthy attended college, possibly as few as one percent of the population. Very few girls went to college, effectively zero percent. A daughter of a wealthy family would likely go to finishing school in her mid-teens. Curriculum at finishing schools was designed to make her a proper wife of a wealthy husband and consisted of things like: posture, ball room dancing, music and literary appreciation, managing the household budget, certainly nothing that could translate into a career.
 
Likes: Futurist
Oct 2015
716
Virginia
#3
In the anti-bellum south just under half of all slaves worked on large plantations with over 30 slaves. Many others did general agricultural and domestic work on smaller farms with fewer slaves, or were hired out by their owners.
Slaves nearly monopolized domestic services both in rural and urban areas as free whites in the south shunned such work as "degrading".
Slaves also worked in the trades and in many urban occupations such as dockworkers, stevedores, bakers, tanners, launderers, barbers and clerks. Many mechanics used slave assistants in carpentry, blacksmithing, cabinet making etc.
Slaves were also used in industrial and manufacturing work such as tobacco factories, iron foundries, rope-making and even sometimes as railroad laborers.
 
Mar 2019
2
England
#4
thanks for the swift replies, some great information there!

did the slave/servant thing change post-bellum in the South? i'd assume in the North the staff would always have been paid servants.

TIA