Typically, household staff lived in parts of the house unseen by the public; these often included upper floor spaces and parts that were hidden through back hallways and separate staircases. The Rundlet House was large enough to have staff bedrooms on the third floor, with a staff staircase running from behind the kitchen, up to the nursery, and then continuing to the third floor. It allowed easy access to all of the necessary rooms, and an assurance to the family members that the functions of the house could be done with ease and swift function, and often out of sight from household members or visiting guests.
The third floor of the house was originally living space for staff though at some point it started to be used as a family space instead, as can be seen in the way it is furnished currently. This transition was probably in the twentieth century though there are not records of when this occurred.
Ralph May's Study
From a gamepiece from Battledores and Shuttlecocks, a tortoiseshell, books, trophies, family dog collars, a toy elephant, Ralph May’s Harvard Class Album of 1904 and his class reunion photo at the White House in 1934, the study was a haven for reading and respite on the third floor, removed from other functions of the house. The room was furnished by James Rundlet-May and passed down to Ralph May. Hasty Pudding Club theatrical photos also line the walls along with Ralph May’s 1904 Harvard Lampoon photograph, as both James Rundlet-May and Ralph May were members of this long-lived Harvard tradition of theatrical farce.
Elephant ToyThe Bobble Head of its Time
Though little is known about when this elephant object came into the Rundlet household, it was played with as a toy by Ralph May. It’s head bobbles up and down, and was likely made in the early 20th century when an interest in automata and animals became popular in America. These toys were often made in Germany, France, and other countries in Europe.
White House Reunion Photograph
This black and white photograph documents the thirtieth reunion of the Harvard Class of 1904. The reunion was held at the White House in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a member of the Class of 1904 along with Ralph May, is pictured in the center of the group. Eleanor Roosevelt and President Roosevelt are on the balcony overlooking the crowd of revelers.