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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1883
([1883])

Report of Hampton school,   pp. 165-179 PDF (8.0 MB)


Page 171

171 
REPORT OF HAMPTON SCHOOL. 
them, thus leaving the Indian girls without anything to do but to take care
of their 
own rooms, make their clothes, and wash and iron them at m.ny disadvantages.
The 
colored girls had a nice sewing-room. Every afternoon, when the time came
for the 
Indian girls' sewing school to begin, instead of going into a large room
furnished for 
the purpose, they reported in the small bed-room of one of the Indian teachers.
This 
year they have a handsome home of their own, with sewing-room, laundry, and
a 
si)lendid chance to learn all those things that will be of so much value
to them when 
they return Io their homes. The work of the whole building is divided among
them. 
The earnestness, willingniess, and thoroughness with which they perform their
several 
duties, is very creditable indeed. It is a large building, and requires a
great deal of 
scrubbing and cleaning to keep things in order, yet there has never been
a cleaning 
,day when there were not plenty of willing hands to do the work required.
All of the Indian girls, from eight to twenty-four years old, make their
own clothes, 
wash and iron them, care for their rooms, and a great many of them take care
of 
teachers' rooms. Besides this they have extra work, such as sweeping, dusting,
and 
scrubbing the corridors, stairs, hall, sewing-room, chapel, and cleaning
other parts of 
the building. When one thinks of this, he cannot help saying, or at least
feeling, 
that it is remarkable how they do all this and go to school. The way in which
they 
do their work, too, would put to shame many who are tar ahead of them in
advan- 
tages. It would be hard to find a set of girls of any race who would do better
were 
they placed under similar circumstances. It is, of course, a very good thing
to know 
how to do all these things, but the lovely part of it is to know how to do
them cheer- 
fully. It is one of the rules of the building, if a girl is sick and cannot
do her work, 
she must send her room-mate to make it known just after breakfast, that some
other 
girl may be appointed to do the work before school time. We have had a great
many 
sick girls this term, and whenever a girl was asked "will you please
take -----'s 
work for her? she is sick," in spite of her other duties, the girl would
almost always 
an swer cheerfully, "all right," or "yes marm." There
has been a very great improve- 
ment among girls this term, physically, mentally, and morally, and it is
earnestly 
hoped that next year will bring with it even greater success. 
The following report is from another graduate (colored): 
The girls' laundry work, Miss Georgie Washington in charge.-Before Winona
Lodge 
w s completed the Indian girls did their washing and ironing in Virginia
Hall, late 
in the week, after the colored girls were all through. This was of course
very in- 
convenient, especially when we had rainy weather and the clothes were to
be dried in 
the house, so that their ironing came on Saturday. The girls bore these troubles
very 
patiently, looking forward to the time when they would have a laundry of
their own 
to wash and iron in and to keep clean. They began to work in their new laundry
the 
latter part of October. There are two laundries-one wash laundry and the
other 
ironing laundry; ten stationary tubs, clothes boiler, and starch kettle,
new stove, five 
long tables, and plenty of soap and starch. With all these conveniences the
girls, of 
C  urse, were expected to do better work, and I believe they went into the
laundry with 
that intention. They wash in different squads of eight or nine girls in each
squad. 
Their clothes are inspected as soon as washed and if not clean they are washed
again. 
This was hard at first for some of them to do, because they could not see
the reason; 
but after being told and having to do them over a great many times, Inotice
they make 
it a point now to wash them clean the first time. I felt very much encouraged
at 
finding one girl willingly washing one piece of clothes four times. I could
not say 
then that it was perfectly clean, but I was perfectly satisfied that she
tried to do her 
best. 
Another difficult thing, at the beginning, was to make them understand what
I 
wanted them to do. I had to use a great deal of natural language, because
some- 
times I would tell them something they would not understand, so the next
thing was 
to show them what I wanted done by pointing out the object. A number of girls
came Christmas, and the next week they were put into the laundry to wash.
They 
could not speak a word of English, so here was the hardest class of all.
As I inspected 
their clothes, I would tell them the name of the different pieces in English,
at which they 
all laughed, and thought it the funniest thing they had ever heard. I thought
I had 
succeeded very well at making them understand the name and use of the different
things in the laundry, when one morning, as I was about to make the starch,
one 
girl, understanding the starch kettle to be the boiler, put her washing in
and had it 
boiling instead of the starch. Now these girls wash and iron very nicely
indeed; and 
when one thinks of the progress these girls have made since Christmas he
cannot 
help feeling that their next two years at Hampton will make them satisfactory
work- 
ers. Whenever a girl is sick and unable to wash her clothes, I ask some girl
who is 
well and strong to wash for her, and I must say I have been very much surprised
in 
some of them by the willingness with which they do it. The girls could not
under- 
stand at first why the underclothes should be ironed as nicely as the outer
clothing, 
their excuse being that no one could see them. I was not surprised at this,
because 
I hai e seen a great many people do the same thing for the same reason. Some
may 


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