In 1895 there were 2,229 servants living in Newport; a small village-sized community in a city of less than 20,000. Over half of them emigrated from Europe. They comprised a fundamental element of Newport's Gilded Age society and posed an engaging research opportunity.
In 1999, The Preservation Society of Newport County initiated an oral history project, "Keeping House." It began as a community effort appealing to locals who knew of individuals that worked at the Newport mansions. Information and leads came forth from people who were domestics at the mansions and relatives of former domestics. Documenting their stories opened a fascinating personal perspective on behind the scenes life in Newport's great houses of the Gilded Age and encapsulated a unique social and cultural group in Newport.
Following are several brief profiles of servants who worked in Newport's houses, some of whose stories can be heard in the audio tour of The Breakers. We thank everyone who shared their stories and photographs for this important research project.
Domestic Service Profiles
Lawrence Bauerband, Superintendent of The Breakers
Magda Goodheart, Nursemaid
Norah Kavanagh Sarsfield, Chambermaid
Rudolph Stanish, Kitchen boy, Chef
For more information check out Servant Life at The Breakers: A Room With a View