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Housemaids

The Willet-Holthuysens employed numerous housemaids. We are not certain exactly how many, but we do know that one of the housemaids was called Neeltje.

Much of the housemaids’ time was spent dealing with the laundry: starching, ironing, mangling and pressing. Washing and bleaching were outsourced elsewhere, and took place once or twice a year near Haarlem or ’s-Graveland. The linen cupboard must therefore have been well-stocked for the household to avoid running out of clean linen. Starching and ironing were carried out right at the top of the house, even further upstairs than the servants’ bedrooms. A ‘washing room’ like this would have had its own stove to heat up the iron, and a cogwheel to hoist up the laundry.

In addition to the other housemaids, Louisa had her own personal lady’s maid, who had a range of tasks including helping her mistress dress and arranging her hair. We know the name of one such lady’s maid: Mina. Abraham and Louisa probably also employed a kitchen maid, who would spend the day helping prepare their meals. Moreover, they would have had a messenger maid, who would be tasked with delivering messages to friends and acquaintances in the city.