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In 1827, early black author Robert Roberts introduced a book called – The House Servants Directory or A monitor for private families: comprising hints on the arrangement and performance of servants’ work. The book was a guide for house servants that helped them to understand the rules of keeping a prominent white household. It also included recipes for vinegar, fish and other dishes.

Through Robert’s guide, black servants were taught how to properly clean plates with dry plate powder, what to wear, what time to arise for work, how to deal with drunk people, restoring furniture and material and how to take care of themselves. There was even instruction on how to dye hair.

Robert Roberts was born in 1780 as a freeman in Charleston, SC. Roberts made a living as a servant after moving to Massachusetts around 1805. Though he worked in white households, he was also a strong abolitionist who worked against a movement to send free blacks to Liberia.

Little Known Black History Fact: The House Servant’s Directory  was originally published on

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