Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Historic Photo of the Week

 The most popular photo of the week on my Pinterest Board is this one of women phone operators in Boston, MA, in 1884.
While working class jobs included those such as working in a mill or textile industry, middle class jobs were on the rise for 19th century women. Middle class jobs for women included cashiers, typists, and secretaries. Domestic jobs working as a maid or cook were common, but the highest paid positions were highly sought after. Medical jobs for women also opened up in the mid to late 19th century when women worked as nurses, midwives, or doctors.

And with the invention of the telephone in 1876, working as a trained operator became a highly respectable job for women. While it might at first seem like a break through for women, it actually was a natural progression. Women had actually been trained as early as the 1860's during the Civil War to be telegraph operators. When the need arose for men in civil jobs to sign up for the military, many vacancies were filled by women. As with many a war, when Johnny came marching home again, there was a bit of a rivalry for those jobs.

Look how far we've come...

I'm grateful for my job and my training. But like this woman in the photo above, I sometimes feel need extra arms to get the job done! Sometimes more isn't more. Women will never stop finding that balance.

What jobs did your lady ancestors do?
How did that influence you?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Anne!

    My mother and both grandmothers are/were housewives, but their lives were far from easy, and simple. They lived on farms, and in addition to the care and preparation of crops and animals (for eating), they prepared meals for hired help.

    While I grew up helping on the farm, it was not something that I wanted to do to earn a living. I started working in the clerical field immediately after high school graduation, which was to my advantage - especially when raising my children.

    The picture of the telephone operators is interesting - standing looks tiring, yet sitting would appear to be bundlesome - with all the petticoats and long dresses (LOL)!!


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