Early Women Staff

Anna Maria Nikolai, "UC Scrub" as she was referred to on the reverse of this photograph, was an early domestic at Union College.  Image from the Picture File (SCA-1026). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Headshot of Anna Maria Nikolai. Image from the Picture File (SCA-1026). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Elizabeth Kritz, undated. Image from the Picture File (SCA-1026). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Student dormitory in 1873. This photograph shows the interior of rooms that chambermaids and domestics might have cleaned. Photograph from the Picture File (SCA-1026). Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

"Our Chambermaids," from the 1895 Concordiensis. Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Schaffer Library. 

Domestics

Women were employed at the College from its early history, and the first women on its staff were domestics or chambermaids. In the past, domestics were sometimes referred to as “scrubs", and it can be difficult to find evidence of their lives or the tools they used because of their lack of wealth and status which resulted in lack of records. This is common to the history of Union College as well. Anna Maria Nikolai, known as "Aumie," was employed at the college from about 1847 until her death in 1885.15 She is the most well-known domestic at that time in the college's history.  Apparently, by 1895 there were 14 women employed as chambermaids at the college, according to a poem and photograph in the Concordiensis that year. 

Elizabeth Kritz was employed as a domestic in the 1870s and 1880s, but not much is known about her. 

Kate Melber was employed as a chambermaid at the college from 1886 until her retirement in 1937, by which time she had become superintendent of the cleaning staff.16 

15 Somers, 715.
16 Ibid., 715.
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