|One of the ways that the races of the 19th century mixed most closely was in the domestic world of child care. For rich white families, it was a mark of status and success to be able to employ a person of another race as a domestic servant, for this both declared their wealth and served as a way to distinguish whiteness from the supposedly inferior social groups. |
And yet the intimacy of child care must have compromised this sense of distinctness and separation in many ways. The woman in this photograph seems austere, but she carefully holds the tiny, fragile toddler in her pose perched on a table, and the child seems to lean in to the woman for protection and support in what might well have been a fighting experience of staying still for the camera.