American Hotel Pages/Bellhops

Figure 1.--This American cabinet card portrait shows what look to be a hotel page boy. There is, however, no accompnying information other than the standard studio informtio. The cap and jacket strongly suggest that he was a hotel page. Unforunately we can not read the ribbon badge is is wearing. The image is unusual in that he seems to be wearing tights rather than pants. Apparently this was because part of his duties was to scoot around the hotel rapidly with his roller skates to deliver messages. The portrait is undated, but the mount suggests the 1880s. The studio was Perkins in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A British reader tells us, "I have seen roller scates in other hotel staff photographs. Often they were hotel page boys."

Page has a variety of different meanings. Many do not fall within the concept of child labor. European court, American Congressional, and wedding pages are more honorific positions than child labor. The one type of page that is child labor is hotel pages. The term apparently derives from the mideieval pages who attended persons of rank. we are not when hotels began uniforming boys and calling them pages or bellhops to perform tasks at the request of guests. I think probably the 19th century. Working-class boys generally filled these positoons. Ages varied. In the 19th century even pre-teens might be involved. The boys wore uniforms. The practice began in Europe, but was adopted by better Americn hotels. We also see pages on oceanliners. We have found images from the 19th century. The age range shifted American states began passing child labor laws and compulsory school attendance laws.


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Created: 1:13 AM 8/26/2017
Last updated: 2:55 PM 8/26/2017