An earlier post on the history of the Motor Maids, ladies motorcycling club, indicates the club was organized in 1940, but the name “Motor Maids” predates that by some forty years. This is sheer speculation on my part, but the name chosen by the lady motorcyclists may have come from a series of books by the same name.
MOTOR MAIDS SERIES by Katherine Stokes. Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c per vol., postpaid. The Motor Maids’ School Days. Billie Campbell was just the type of a straightforward, athletic girl to be successful as a practical Motor Maid. She took her car, as she did her class-mates, to her heart, and many a grand good time did they have all together. The road over which she ran her red machine had many an unexpected turning.
The Motor Maids by Palm and Pine. Wherever the Motor Maids went there were lively times, for these were companionable girls who looked upon the world as a vastly interesting place full of unique adventures.
The Motor Maids Across the Continent. It is always interesting to travel, and it is wonderfully entertaining to see old scenes through fresh eyes. It is that privilege, therefore, that makes it worthwhile to join the Motor Maids in their first ‘cross-country run’.
The Motor Maids by Rose, Shamrock and Thistle. South and West had the Motor Maids motored, nor could their education by travel have been more wisely begun. But now a speaking acquaintance with their own country, enriched their anticipation of an introduction to the British Isles. How they made their polite American bow and how they were received on the other side is a tale of interest and inspiration.
The Motor Maids in Fair Japan. In a picturesque villa among picturesque surroundings the Motor Maids spend a happy vacation. The charm of Japan, –her cherry blossoms, her temples, her quaint customs, her polite people,–is reflected in all their delightful experiences.
The Motor Maids at Sunrise Camp. Most interesting of all interest events recorded about the Motor Maids are these relating to their summer in a mountain camp. The new friends introduced in this book add the final touch of romance.
Charmingly written books which will delight all girls who are fond of out-door life—and most girls are. The trips taken by these Motor Maids would envy any girl, yet you can have all the pleasant experiences by reading the stories.
We will send any book upon receipt of 50 cents, or all six for $2.50. Hurst & Company, Publishers, New York.
The preceding advertisement for the Motor Maids series of books was published in the back of a novel, Her Senator, written by Archibald Clavering Gunter, copyrighted by Hurst & Co. of New York in 1896. The same advertisement appeared in similar publications numerous times through 1920.
The book series, obviously predates the organization of the Motor Maids MC by some forty years, but where did the name come from for the books? The author and publisher used the name Motor Maids in the books because it took advantage of an employment that was all the rage in the 1890’s through the 1920’s.
At that time, a motor maid was a ladies’ maid who could drive an automobile and the demand for such was very high in England at the turn of the century. Young ladies who were, “ambitious…who have a technical turn of mind are said to have excellent chances of securing well-paid employment”.
Advertisements appeared regularly in English newspapers requesting the services of ladies’ maids who could drive cars and schools who taught young pupils to drive were experiencing a rapid rise in young women who wanted to take their courses.
Motor maids are often wanted to take out a small runabout [automobile] for the governess and children while the chauffeur is driving other members of the family, and even the governesses themselves are learning to drive cars rather than to push baby carriages. – Motor. Vol. 13-14. April 1910.
The primary characters in the Motor Maids books were young ladies who drove cars and got themselves and their friends into all sorts of adventures. The books were probably still well known when the organizers of the Motor Maids MC chose the name, and given the wonderful adventures the riders enjoyed I doubt a more appropriate name could have been found.
For more insight, please see: Williamson, C. N. and A. M. The Motor Maid. NY. A. L. Burt Company. 1910.