From Domestic Servant to Working-Class Housewife: Women, Labor, and Family in Chile

Nara Milanich

Abstract


In 1867, Madre Bernarda Morin, Mother Superior of Santiago's foundling home, submitted an extensive report to the Chilean government on the functioning of the institution. Like its counterparts elsewhere in Latin America and Europe, the Casa de Huérfanos of Santiago received legions of needy children each year. The majority were young infants of illegitimate birth, many were ill and they derived overwhelmingly from the most destitute social sectors. The Casa, as it was known, was the country's largest welfare institution; around the time of Madre Bernarda's report, it received some 9% of all children born in Santiago{note id=1} Madre Bernarda's congregation, the Hermanas de la Providencia, had administered the institution since arriving on Chilean soil from their native Quebec in the early 1850s. They received their mandate from the Chilean government and continued to report to it.

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