Butler in History
In films and books, one often sees the butler scampering around, providing comic relief or the iconic father-figure. But where did the real butler come from and what did he do?
As history progressed, so did the scope of the butler's duties. Along about the Victorian age, the butler took over the duties of the steward of the earlier Elizabethan era. Gradually, as more duties were assigned to the butler, he moved from a position of middle-ranking servant to the senior-most male servant in a household. While the steward was now in charge of the estate and all that occured outside of the home, the butler took charge of the day-to-day affairs within the household and was responsible for all the male servants. Today, the butler is often in charge of all servants within a home.
While the number of household servants declined radically between World War II and the 1980's, the new millennium has seen a resurgence of the profession.
Alonzo Fields, the White House butler for the Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations, wrote a memoir entitled "My 21 Years In the White House" giving insight to the role and duties of such an esteemed position.