Odd Fellows Hall
Tremont House Waiter's Association Ball Supper
March 10, 1892
The waiters at luxury hotels in Boston were exclusively African-American men who were deemed particularly suited for service in upper-class dining rooms. The Tremont House Waiters’ Association was a mutual beneficial association formed in 1890 when black waiters in Chicago were conducting a series of successful job actions. This 10-page booklet from its third annual ball contains the dance program of waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and new steps like the Glenwood Glide. Each dance is dedicated to a waiter, such as Albert Jackson, “the ladies fancy;” C. E. Butler, “old steady;” and William Walker, “heel taps.” The late supper was provided by William Tufts, whose catering business was situated in the Odd Fellows’ Hall where the ball was held. The portrait on the back cover is presumably headwaiter Gabriel Minor, the association president. The ball may have marked a high point for this group. The old Tremont House closed in 1894 during a severe depression. Within a few years, black waiters in Northern cities began to be marginalized by new ideals of servitude as wealthy Americans who wanted to emulate the European aristocracy decided they preferred white waiters.