1    Sep 2014292 comments

Labor Day: 10 jobs that are obsolete

Did your great-grandfather cut ice for a living? Perhaps your grandmother was a switchboard operator and connected calls from house to house?

There are so many professions that our ancestors once followed that are now extinct today.

Here are 10 examples of professions that no longer exist:

1) A scissors-grinder was a street merchant that sharpened the blades of knives and scissors. He would call out in the streets or knock at the doors to try and get business. He worked the stone grinding wheel with his foot using a treadle.

A scissors-grinder in 1909. Credit: Maryland Historical Society Library.

2) Hemp dressers worked in the linen industry separating the coarse part of flax or hemp with a hackle. They were also known as hacklers.

Credit: Library of Congress

3) Bobbin boys worked in textile mills in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Their job consisted in bringing bobbins to the women at the looms, and then collecting the bobbins that were full with spun cotton or wool thread.

A bobbin boy in 1911. Credit: NARA – 523488.

4) Book peddlers were travelling vendors. Also known as "book canvassers," they went door-to-door selling books. For many rural Americans, this was their only way to obtain new reading material.

A 17th-century book peddler

5) A breaker boy was a coal-mining worker in the United States and United Kingdom.  They separated impurities from the coal by hand.

Breaker boys (Pennsylvania, 1884). Credit: George Bretz

6) A Gandy dancer was an early railroad worker whose job was to lay and maintain railroad tracks. In England they were called "navvys." Their nickname comes from the methodical dance movements of the railroad workers.

A railroad maintenance crew from Rawson, Ohio (c1920)

7) The iceman was someone who collected surface ice from lakes and rivers during the winter. It was then stored in ice houses year-round and sold in blocks as a pre-refrigeration cooling method.

Ice-cutters (Toronto, Canada; c1890)

8) Until the '60s in some places, switchboard operators connected phone calls from house to house by inserting phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. George Willard Croy became the world's first telephone operator when he started working for the Boston Telephone Dispatch Company in January 1878, while Emma Mills Nutt became the first female telephone operator when she began working at the same company on September 1, 1878.

Telephone operators in 1952. Credit: Seattle Municipal Archives, Seattle, Washington

9) The knocker-up (usually an elderly man or woman) performed his duties as a human alarm clock until the 1920s. Using a truncheon or a stick to knock on doors or windows, his job was to wake people up in the morning so that they would get up on time.

Credit: Bacup Natural History Society

10) Lectors for factory workers would read books or newspapers out loud to the workers to entertain them while they worked.

Lectors entertaining factory workers

Did anyone in your family have a profession that is no longer around today? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. My first full-time job was a Fax Machine operator for a law firm in 1989.
  2. I have a photo similar to the above of my great-grand uncle Judson Elijah Wesler working in a "crupper" factory in 1909. I'm not sure what job title he may have had in his work, but he and other young men were crafting cruppers: the leather strap that fastened to the saddle of a harness and looped under the tail of a horse to prevent the harness from slipping forward.
  3. My Mother, Agnes Smith, was a telephone switchboard operator when I was 7&8 yrs old.
  4. My mother, and my aunt, were "Stewardesses" on the B & O railroad when you were required to be Registered Nurse.
  5. Telegrapher
  6. I was a switch board operator after graduating from high school. I did that on and off for 24 years. The board was some what like the picture but, on a much larger scale. Made a good living.
  7. My grandfather was a stationary steam engineer in the days before there was electricity to drive machines. (1892 - 1932)

    The steam engines, drove fan belts, which drove lathes, milling machines, steam hammers, presses, etc. in a shipbuilding and engineering firm.
  8. My husbands Great Grandfather was a coal lumper in Sydney they even had a meeting hall at the Rocks that is still there where the Milson Point busses terminate called Mott Hall.
  9. jan my dad was a boot clicker for Morris's boot factory which was over the road from the original Lang park in Brisbane. he cut out the uppers for shoes by hand with a curved knife. they used to make the boots for the army.
  10. My first job in 1949 was a dictaphone typist. Letters were dictated to a cylinder, then with ear phones, you listened and typed. This was a means of replacing shorthand.
  11. My grandfather was a fireman on the L&N Railroad. It was his job to make sure the engine maintained steam pressure by stoking the firebox that heated the water into steam.
  12. Lamplighter.
  13. I had an ancestor that had an occupation listed in the US Census as a "carbiner" I have never been able to find out what it was, even using Google, etc.
  14. One of my grandma's sisters was an umbrella maker
  15. My great grandfather was listed in several late 1800s censuses as a "moulder".
  16. my grandfather was a barn silo salesman.
  17. A carbiner could be a carabiniere - a soldier who used this type of gun, also called a musket gun.
  18. My great grandfather was a coachman in London
  19. My paternal great grandfather was a coachman in London and my maternal great grandfather was a hooper.
  20. I wonder if it might have been one of the many misspelled words in Censuses and it might actually have been Carbineer a member of the military
  21. Bellows Boy or Organ Pumper.

    In the days before electricity, the pipe organs in churches were "winded" (i.e. provided with air pressure to allow the pipes to sound) manually by one or more - depending on how large the organ was - men or boys who pumped the bellows. Some pumps were hand operated and others were pedals which looked somewhat like present-day stair-climber exercise machines. In most small churches, this wasn't a paid position, but every church with a pipe organ - which was all that existed in those days - had to have one.
  22. My great grandfather was an engineer on a steam ship line. He stoked the coal engine. I worked as a telephone operator while working my way through college in the 1960's.
  23. My great great uncle was a "Carriage Maker" and "Wagon Maker" in West Virginia before the Civil War and in Detroit, Michigan up to 1905. I wonder how he fared with the invention of the automobile?
  24. My great great grandfather was a flax dresser all his life - does anyone know what that means?
  25. My great-grandfather and his father were millers--they built and operated windmills and watermills in Lithuania. After a few years, they would move and build a new one. Most of their brothers and cousins were also millers. Seems like a family occupation! Sorting through the church metrical records was very tricky since they also shared a lot of the same first names.
  26. My greatgranfather was a mattress stuffer
  27. One great grandfather was a coachman, the other was a hoopmaker.
  28. I remember as a child in the early 1950's that the insurance man used to come to the door and collect the insurance payments. There was an envelope hanging on the wall where my parents put in the cash. The companies used to sell 5 cents a week or 25 cents a week insurance policies.
  29. My grandmother was a 'handkerchief examiner' in the linen industry in Belfast. I believe it was a supervisory post
  30. My great grandfather was a Cooper. Coopers manufactured wooden vessels with metal bands, mostly wooden barrels.
  31. My great great grandfather, William Mathias Cross (born in Westminster, London, England, 1824) was a boot closer. This job involved sewing the uppers to the rest of the boot.
  32. How about "stenos" who took dictation from nearly all types of professionals then typed and re-typed and frequently re-typed again the resulting records or letters.
  33. Oh yeah, stenos always wrote in "shorthand"
  34. My great grandfather listed his occupation as 'gigger' on his civil war enlistment papers.
    From http://www.rmhh.co.uk/occup/g.html
    Gigger - Operated a gigging machine - a machine for dressing woollen cloth by subjecting it to the action of teasels.
  35. My great grandfather George Wiggins, was a "Moulder" in a brick field filling the moulds with pug.
  36. There was the Ice Man who delivered the ice door to door. The Bread man, the Coal man, The Milk Man, The Sheeny, (Scrap man), the Tea Man, all of these were usually daily delivery to the house. This kept the streets well perfumed. The Fruit Man was always around but was not a daily caller. All horse and wagons.
  37. One of my great grandfathers, George Willis, was a Clogger - a maker of wooden clogs which survived the damp of the cotton mills and the salinity of the salt mines better than leather shoes in 19th century Lancashire, England.
  38. My great grandfather was a tallow chandler.
  39. My first job was setting pins in a "duck pin" bowling alley. There was only 5 pins and the ball was about the size of a softball.
  40. The term 'knocker up' has a different meaning today. It refers to people who visit voters on election day to remind them to vote.
  42. My great-grandfather was a "corn weigher" (koringweger) in the Netherlands, mid nineteenth century.
    Weighed the crop when it was reaped.
  43. My grandfather was a tinsmith.
  44. An aunt of mine spent some time candling eggs for a chicken hatchery.
  45. Wheelwright (made wooden wagon wheels)
    Herb doctor (medicinal potions, drugs, salves, etc.)
  46. My father was a blacksmith into the late 1980s. His uncle was a harness maker into the 1960s. Having Amish neighbors meanth the harness maker still had work, but in his later days the shop work kind of closed down at 2:00 and the folding tables and chairs and pitch and pinochle cards came out as the regulars arrived to play a couple games of cards.
  47. I worked at the National Credit Office as an Ediphone operator around 1951. We sat in a "pool" maybe two dozen of us, listening to the dictated reports of account executives who were in a large pool of their own, on the other side of a large glass wall. Good listening via earphones & fast typing on Remingtons were essential skills. The reports were on cylinders, as someone above said.
  48. In Yorkshire the bobbin boys were called "Doffers" because they doffed the full bobbins from the Spinning Spindle.
  49. Frank sept 8th
    Could your ancester be any thing to do with the carbide industry. Carbide was used to produce carbide gas for car /bike lighting???
  50. The Jewish community had the equivalent of a "knocker-upper" called a "Shul klapper" who would wake people for morning prayers.

    While there are many occupations that led to last names, these jobs are often obsolete -- like fletchers, coopers, wainwrights, and chandlers.
  51. my ancester was a velvet groomer.Can only guess what thatwas.
  52. While in high school (1940s) I was a soda jerk. Are there any now?
    In the Army I was a Morse code radio operator stationed close to the "Iron Curtain"- the border between West and East Germany.
  53. track workers still call themselves gandy dancers, at least in the 1980s
  54. My GGGrandfather was a "Rat Catcher"
  55. My Wife's family were "lookers" out on the salt marshes. They looked after the flocks of sheep there.
  56. My gt. Uncle was a rabbit catcher
  57. I have a great great grandfather who was a Carpet Planner in the mid 19th century in England. Can anyone tell me more about the trade? No one appears to be able to define what it comprises. I also have another possible relative in Gloucestershire UK with the same trade at the same period.
  58. My great grandfather, and most of his sons, was a shoe maker, Another great grandfather was a cordwainer - no idea what this was!
  59. My great grandfather, Alexander Hay, was apprenticed as a COOPER as a young boy in Scotland. This was the making of wooden barrels or casks, usually for the whiskey distilleries.
  60. I have two in my Family Tree, one is a Brass Filer and the other a Button Filer. We only assume what the first one is but haven't a clue of the second one.
  61. My Great Grandad was a clay-pipe maker
  62. My great great grandfather was a wheel wright. He used to fix the spokes on wooden carriage wheels.
  63. My Grandfather was a boiler maker in a ship yard in Rotterdam until steamships became upsolete
  64. My Mother was a switchboard operator during WW2 with PacBell Co in Oakland CA, she retired in 1965.
  65. My ancestors owned the Waltke Soap Factory in St. Louis Missouri, the same company who invented Lava Soap. My ancestor collected waste fats to be made into soap.
  66. In fact "Navvies" in the UK were originally builders of canals, not railways and earlier than railway workers. It was short for "Inland navigators", and was because they were making it possible for boats to travel across land.
  67. One of the most famous extinct occupations in the British pottery industry was the "saggarmaker's bottom knocker".

    Saggars are used to hold and protect pottery during kiln-firing, and by placing various substances in a saggar it is possible to produce dramatic visual effects on the finished pottery.

    Producing saggars to the correct specifications required was a skilled job and needs a craftsman - the saggar maker. However, making the bases of the saggars is a less skilled job which can be left to a lesser craftsman, namely the saggar maker's bottom knocker, who makes the bottom of the saggar by placing clay in a metal hoop and literally knocking it into shape.
  68. When I was a kid there was a sissors grinder who would push his cart down the street with a little bell ringing. Ladies would bring out their sissors to be sharpened.he would stop and sharpen them with a grinder? on his cart.
  69. My great uncle was a "Time Keeper" for a steel mill in Ohio.
  70. I have a photo of my grandfather and several other men in a shed
    shearing sheep (cutting the wool off the body of the sheep).
    A machine provides power to a pair clippers each man uses to
    shear the sheep being held securely between the shearers legs.
  71. I was an installer for Western Electric in the 1960s. Installed and wired central office equipment for switchboards in a central location.
  72. I did solo switchboard operating part-time in early 1970's at a psychiatric hospital: Thoroughly enjoyed the evening shift.
  73. Tinner, Straw Bonnet Maker, Wireweaver
  74. My grand.dad was a rope splicer for shipping companies.
    He was taught as a youngster in a London Navy school for boys.
    That was about 110 years ago.
  75. My mother was a card puncher/typist for computer info in late 1960s.
  76. My Grandfather was a Bathtub Enameler in Scotland and moved to Canada when porcelan tubs entered the market and put him and others out of work
  77. Trasher & Stooker (not sure of the spelling)
  78. To Frank--Could the spelling be wrong? That happened a lot on the census information.
  79. I have traced a couple of ancestors, who were chimney sweeps. I appreciate that maybe some remain here and there in older cities, but it's very much a dying occupation, if not dead already.
  80. One of my uncle,s was a fellmonger,it has to do with furs & hides.
  81. My 5th great grand father was a shoemaker.
  82. My father (born 1914, died 1960) was a "tire wrapper" at US Rubber in Detroit in 1940. Sorry, no pix of him at the job but perhaps you can locate one.
  83. My father had ben a Bowling Pin Setter when he was a boy in the mid to late 1920's.
  84. i was once to be apprenticed as a Pattern Maker . this involved making , in wood , the shape of a moulding to be cast in metal .it was a highly skilled profession but has now been superseded by computer designing and in some cases by 3D photocopying .
  85. I remember the ice-man delivering in the 1940s. He had an insulated box on the back of his ute, and came running up the back steps with a ~20 cm long block of ice held in a pair of large tongs, which he would drop into the top compartment of our ice -box (=refrigerator). The melt water ran down a pipe to drip onto a watermelon that sat cooling under the house (this was in tropical Queensland).
    The milk-man also delivered. A young chap hurdled the fence with a pail of milk swinging in one hand, then sat on the top step to pour the milk into our jug.
  86. My mother was what was referred to in wealthy people's homes as a "Tweenie" or in between maid. My wife was a shorthand typist and I was in the printing industry as a hand and machine compositor, this position has now been taken over by desktop publishers or graphic designers.
  87. My birth certificate lists my fathers occupation as "hustler"

    This term was originally the man who harnessed the horses and hooked them to the freight wagons.

    As the freight business transitioned to motorized vehicles the term became 'yard man' for the men that solely worked in the freight yard staging and hooking trailers to the various trucks.
  88. My uncle drove trucks for the power company. There was a worker with a legendary nose for sniffing out gas leaks. He was often ordered to find Sniffer Kelly and drive him quickly to the site of a gas leak
  89. Have an ancestor who was a whitesmith according to UK census. A blacksmith dealt with iron, a whitesmith with tin, lead, etc.
  90. Perhaps the "Carbiner" was this - A soldier armed with a carbine; a carbineer; a musketeer
  91. My grandfather worked on a farming crew operating a thrashing machine. This was the machine before a combine. It thrashed the grain from the wheat stalk.
  92. My mother was a comptometer operator (before calculators).her sister a milliner and her father a tram and steam engine driver instructor In Sydney.
  93. My great grandfather made leather gloves for men so he took their hand print and created leather gloves for the well to do who worked in the mills in Homestead.
    My great uncle Mike delivered coal to homes. It would be shoveled into coal cellars which everyone had back in the 1920's-30's.
  94. Anybody remember movie theater ushers? Or the paperboy who delivered your newspaper or hawked them on the downtown corners. How about the cop who walked a beat? How about Linotype operators? Or newspaper proofreaders? Or card punch operators? Shoeshine boys in the barber shop? Or the infamous Soda Jerk? He might have worked in a "dime store" if you remember those but more likely behind the "soda fountain" in the neighborhood drug store. Then there was the lady who sold popcorn at the popcorn stand in the park or next to the bus station...I don't think her job had a name. I think she was married to a trolley car conductor. Not a single one of those jobs could be outsourced overseas.
  95. To Frank, September 8th, 2014 - 16:49

    Perhaps "carbiner" has something to do with carbines - i.e. guns?
  96. I have 3 ancestors who are listed in census records as Watch Motion Makers. They are all direct ancestors and were all named John Beavis and were all from successive generations born in 1741, 1771 and 1803. Nearby the other businesses all specialised in other facets of watchmaking.
  97. I was a lightining slinger (telegraph operator) on the Santa Fe when I was a kid.
  98. My husband's uncle was a stone napper , aged 9yrs. This is were the edges were knocked of a stone I think giving the stone square edges
  99. My Great Grandfather was a cooper in Walsall
  100. My Great Grandpa was a teamster
  101. I have a fourth great-grandfather that was a Marshman in Eastern England. He watched and made sure that the animals of the land owner did not get stuck in the marshy area by the coast.
  102. Would it be a rifleman?
  103. When I graduated as a Programmer in 1982 we had punch card operators. We would write our code on programming sheets and the punch card operators would type our code onto punch cards or tape reels; which were fed into the computer to be compiled.
  104. My grandfather was a farrier for the pit ponies in the Aberbargoed coal mine in South Wales, UK.
  105. I worked as telephone switchboard operator In 1971 to 1972.
    I had a split shift; 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 - 11:00 p.m.
    Loved the shift, as I was never an early riser.
    Had the whole day to do other things.
    Would have kept it, except my spouse returned from his tour in Viet Nam and we moved.
    The system was replaced soon afterward
  106. My Gt. Grandfather and his Brother leased a silk Mill in Bruton Somerset U.K. back in 1830. He listed his proffession as "Silk Throwster" in several Census'. This was the process of twisting the fibres from Silk worm cocoon fibres into threads. They employed up to 350 people. Mostly young women and girls.
  107. I have an ancestor who looked after Baobab trees in India. In Gujarati, this tree is called Chinch. Hence he was known as a
    ' Chinch Walla '
  108. I was a radiooperator in the merchant fleet in the 'sixties, sending and recceiving wireless messages in Morse code. Before satellite comunications existed, shortwave radio made it possible to send messages almost anywhere in the world from the high seas, because the radiowaves bounced back from the ionosphere and landed thousands of miles away where the receiving coastal stations were.
  109. @Frank. I wonder if the word carbiner was spelt incorrectly, as often happens in a census, and was actually meant to be 'carbineer', which was a soldier armed with a carbine (rifle). Can also be referred to as a carabineer. I had an uncle in South Africa who served in WW2 under the Natal Carbineers.
  110. My ancestor was a 'carman' but I don't know what it is - there were no cars back then
  111. My ansestors who lived in Bedfordshire were Straw plaiders. Straw Plaining is a method of manufacturing textiles by braiding straw. This was used in the manufacture of hats and ornaments.
  112. My great grand father was a Saddle maker
  113. My Gt Gt Grandfather was a Treenail Maker. They made "treenails" - long wooden pins used to hold large wooden joints together - esp. in the shipbuilding industry. He was the first of the Thomas family to work in the shipyards in Chepstow, in the early/mid 19th century, the last being my uncle who was a draughtsman when units for the first Severn Bridge were built there.
  114. My great-great-great-great grandfather Valentin Mohr was a "salzausweiger" (salt weigher) in the town of Laubenheim, Germany. He regulated the buying and selling of salt, ensuring that people received the correct weight of salt when they made a purchase.
    Neil Renaud (mother's maiden name Mohr)
  115. My brother was a bobbin boy in the 1960's in a plant where man made fiber was made.
    I also remember the gas lighter that went along the street and turned on the gas and light the gas for the street lights.
  116. Kelvin Jenkins is almost right on 14th September regarding Navvies. , but the word does not come from 'inland navigators'.
    It comes from 'navigation cuts' - the navvy was a man who worked on a 'navigation cut' which was the dry cut made through the landscape in order to create a canal. All very logical when you consider that that was precisely what navvies did - they were the labourers who cut through the land to create the canals; they never actually navigated the canals, because by the time the canals were filled with water, the navvies were long gone and on to the next 'navigation cut'. Hence Kelvin's interpretation is not quite correct, although he has the connection with canals is spot on, but he had not quite got the explanation correct.
  117. Hecklers. In this country at least, Scotland, the lads who worked with a 'heckle' (originally a giant metal comb held by hand to comb out the strands in cotton, flax etc) were called 'hecklers'. The verb from this was 'heckling'. A flax dresser was simply a 'heckler' who worked with flax. The dressing was the separating out of the strands preparatory to working with the resultant material.
    The Scottish usage - heckle, heckler, heckling - is important because it is the original of the heckler who disrupts a political meeting.
    Hand heckling became obsolete in the nineteenth century as heckling machines were developed which rendered thousands of hand hecklers redundant.
    Prior to this development the hand hecklers in the mills in Dundee in the very early nineteenth century, were renowned for their political activism and had developed an early craft trade union organisation. To the mill owners and the governing classes they were trouble, and it is from the trouble-making and disruption caused by Dundee hecklers at political meetings that the political usage of heckle, heckling, heckler, derives.
    However, with their great strike in the early nineteenth century in Dundee, demanding higher wages etc., the hecklers totally blew it because it spurred on the mill owners to mechanise and make them all redundant. Well they had to do something about those bloody 'hecklers' didn't they?
  118. My Great Grandfather, who lived in the principality of Wales, was a WOOD GRAINER - he would turn any piece o softwood into 'Oak', 'Mahogany' or any other decorative wood. He achieved this by applying with a small paint brush dyes of various colours - used in furniture and cabinet making at the end of the 19th century.
  119. Telex Operator formed part of my duties as a Girl Friday in my first administration position - before days of fax and email.
  120. I worked in the insurance industry back in the 1970's. We used and read key punch cards in the accounting department.
  121. The 1861 census listed my great grandfather Henry Boaden, aged 9 as a ‘lace twister’, my great great grandfather James also as a ‘lace twister’, his mother Rebecca as a ‘lace mender’, and his brother, John aged 11 also a ‘lace twister’. On the same 1861 census, my great great great grandfather, George, was listed as a ‘sawyer’ aged 78. I believe a ‘sawyer’ cut up fallen trees turning them into sections of timber which could be used for building and manufacture. George moved from village to village seeking work, and he and his wife Sarah had a total of nine children who were baptised in 3 different villages of one parish, and in three other parishes.
  122. My Grand father was a "candler".
    He sized eggs for an egg processing company in Hamilton Ontario.
    This was when the held an egg in front of the flame on a candle or later a light bulb, to check the yolk and see if there was growth inside or if it was a double yolker, which got more money.
  123. My wife worked in the manual telephone exchange at Weston-super-Mare in the 1950's & 1960"s, later on private branch exchanges in Bristol
  124. I used to be a Switchboard Operator for Queens/Steinway Bus Co.
  125. My 5th and 6th GGfathers were scissorsmiths (1700's) and my 7th GGfather was a button maker (born about 1693)
  126. I used to be a Switchboard Operator for Queens/Steinway Bus Co.
  127. My grandfather was a milkman for Hood in RI. He was except from entering the military during the war because his job was of importance in those days. He was given a stateside military job which had something to do with being sure no lights showed during a blackout. I do not know the name of that.
  128. I have ancestors who were tanners.
  129. Lectors are not obsolete in Cuba. In fact, in cigar factories they have lectors that read the newspaper and books to the cigar rollers.
    : a maker and repairer of wagons
  131. My great, great, great uncles' profession was listed as "horse-catcher" in the 1800s. They caught wild mustangs in the Red River valley of AR, LS, TX and Indian Territory, and sold them to Sam Houston's Texas Rangers and the Confederate Army.

    My father was a "pin-setter" at the only bowling alley in Guthrie, OK in the 1940s. He had to set the pins by hand and lift the bowling balls into the chute that would return the balls back to the bowler.
  132. My Uncle was an Ice man. He delivered blocks of ice to homes in the suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. (Around the mid 1940's-1950's I think). They were used for the "Coolgardie Safes", to keep food cool, before everyone had a fridge.
  133. I come from a long line of chirurgeons on my father's side: barber-surgeons who cut hair, pulled teeth, performed "cupping" and placed leeches to clean wounds.
  134. It would be interesting to define the job of a 'Sagger Maker's Bottom Knocker'
  135. My first job on leaving school in 1950 was as "pusher out" or "pushie" at the hand-berth in Wills & Packham's brick field in Sittingbourne, Kent, UK. The temperer fed the correct mix of clay, chalk and brieze into an enormous mixer and the squeezed out mixture was passed in suitably sized lumps by the
    "flattie" to the "moulder" who slung the "flat" into a mould atop the "stock", wiped off the surplus with a wooden "strike" and lifted the soft brick onto a wooden pallet (board) which was then removed to a long narrow barrow by the "barrow-loader". When 32 such wet bricks were loaded the "pushie" wheeled the barrow away to the long board rows called "hacks" where the "off-bearer" set each brick out on its side for the wind to remove most of the water. After long enough the "skintlers" would increase the space between the now hard bricks by turning them diagonally and raising alternate bricks to create a higher stacked row. Even later the "crowders" would assemble about half a million such bricks into a "kell" which would slowly burn (not bake) the bricks into the beautiful yellow hand-made brisks known as "Yellow Kent Stock Bricks" at £ll per thousand in those days.
  136. I recall a profession which definitely became obsolete. Circa 1940s, there were telephone coin collection boxes within individual’s residence. Telephone company individuals would periodically come by to collect the coins. Calls were five cents at the time. If you were to talk beyond the time limit, the operators would notify you as to what the addition charge was, which you would deposit into the coin box. I don’t recall the name of this profession.
  137. My gr. grandfather was a mushroom grower.
  138. A cordwainer was a shoemaker.
    I have rellies who were ribbon weavers from Warwickshire before continuing it in Shoreditch, and one of the brothers was an undertaker - in this instance he would deliver the silk to be woven then a week later collect the finished product and pay the weavers.
    Also another line were block/calico/silk printers.
    Another line were variously tinners and streamers in Cornwall, connected with the mining and possibly alluvial panning for tin.
    Also some thatchers in Somerset, although that isn't an extinct craft, but rare.
  139. Very enjoyable reading
  140. A great grandfather was a saddlery hardware manufacturer, a great grandmother was a looking glass maker, while her siblings were a coachmaker, vest maker, and gilder. A number of my ancestors were cordwainers (shoemakers.) Although I don't know that any of my ancestors had these positions, I know in our town there were fence viewers, perambulators, and hog reeves.
  141. My first "real job" title was keypunch operator, inputting aircraft maintenance records onto keypunch cards which were then fed into a giant computer. I have also been a stenographer, typist, and double ledger bookkeeper. While most of these jobs are obsolete, I'm grateful that I have managed to continue working and now I'm called an "administrative assistant."
  142. I was what was known as a rivet heater in a local steelworks, heating
    rivets for a riveting gang on specially adapted fires
  143. My grandfather, Nemes Tamas Sajgo, of Telkibanya Hungary was a manufacturer of wagon wheels, which was considered to be a very repected and noble trade for that period in the late 19th century; thus the title, nemes before his name which denotes either nobility or a noble occupation.
  144. My first job, in 1968, was key punch operator!
  145. So what were all these jobs replaced with? What do I apply for if I still enjoy (interested in) that trade?
  146. I have seen "pole monkeys" in my younger years. When longer poles (as opposed to just logs) were removed from the woods, a truck was used with the one end of the poles resting on its trailer and the other end had an affair with wheels under the back of the poles. A steering wheel was attached to the wheels from the top of the load. On top of the logs - exposed to the wind in his hair sat the pole monkey steering the back end of the load of logs around every curve and corner in the road. This might have qualified as an "extreme sport"!
  147. Cotton Puller (pulled the boll of cotton off the stock) and before that a Cotton Picker (picked the cotton out of the cotton bur and put it into a sack. The modern cotton stripper and cotton picker took over these two jobs
  148. My G_G_G Grandfather apprenticed for 3 years as a "Morrocco-Finisher at a Bookbinders, where he Made the leather covers for books and embellished them with their titles on the spines. He was helped by a young lady who was a "Gold-Beater", who used sheets of Gold leaf and beat them very thin. The thin gold heets filled in the letters on the book covers. They worked together for the years of his apprenticeship and then got marrie!

    My husband was a "pin-setter" in a local bowling alley in a small town in Pennsylvania in the early 1950's when he was in High School.
  149. My Dad was a "ginner" he worked at a cotton mill back in the 1940's.
  150. My father, a dairy farmer was also a bullocky, he took bullock teams into the mountain country to clear logs and make a way for the bulldozers which helped to build the Tasmanian hydro electric schemes after WW11. Many displaced persons from Europe worked on the building of these schemes, in the Snowy mountains and Tasmania. Often men with only clerical experience and mentally damaged by the horror of war, were expected to live in tent camps and work laboriously on pick and shovel in the snow.
  151. Census 1900 (age 38) indicates Grandfather worked in the linen industry as a weaver. Later in 1912 (age 51) his obituary indicates he worked as a Saber. I am presuming that has something to do with a sharpening operation. Enjoyed all the English locations: My husband's family from 1870 thru to 1810 lived in sections of London: Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, and Hoxton.
  152. I remember when the ice man delivered ice to our house 2 times a week. He would bring in a block of ice and put it in the icebox. You could buy a 25 or a 40 pound block. Sometimes the ice melted too quick and my mother would tell my father to stop and buy a block of ice on the way home from work.

    Also, the milk was delivered to our door step twice a week and my mother would tell me to go out and get the milk bottles off the porch.

    We no long have ice delivery or milk delivery men.
  153. My g-g-grandfather Eugene Flynn emigrated from Ireland and was listed as a stamper. Does anyone know what this is?
  154. My great-grandfather was a currier, which was a groomer of horses, or a dresser of tanned leather in preparation for making into horse equipment. In reply to the flax-dresser question, this would be the fibres used in rope making. There was the fine linen flax grown in Ireland etc, but in New Zealand the flax bushes are a tough, long leaved shrub that was idea for rope making, so flax-dressing was quite an industry, until synthetic fibres took over. We had manual telephone operators in my district here until 1982!
  155. My dad Luther C. Doughty was a auto parts buffer. He would polish chrome parts that would adorn automobiles. Very little chrome if any on cars anymore.
  156. In reply to Kerry, about "carman", this could refer to railway cars, which predate motorcars, of course.
  157. In 1955-56, I was a long-distance telephone operator. The photo of the local operators brought back some forgotten memories. When I left SW Bell 1956, there had been no change in the process. Try herding multiple calls to places all over the country with calls timed after the first three minutes. Our greatest fear was connecting a caller to the wrong party of disconnecting someone in the middle of a call. It was only a few years later that the big switchboard was changed to one more manageable. Good times. Also, my former husband was an elevator operator in a Florida hotel during his high-school years.
  158. My father was a policeman when I was a child. One of his first jobs was riding a 3-wheeled motorcycle down town marking tires on parked cars. No meters in those days. If the car was still there on his next round, and past the allowed time, he would issue a parking ticket.
  159. A Cordwainer was a highly skilled craftsman who worked with leather in the UK. This was a step above mere shoemaking, the Cordwainers did make knee high boots and possibly leather bags. They employed lesser skilled workers to assist them in the more mundane tasks such as cutting. They sold their produce to the wealthier class who could afford fine leather goods. The name is derived from Cordova, where the finest leathers were obtained.
  160. I was an icecream boy at the movies, paper boy on street corner,and later an Apprentice Barber where i learnt to sharpen scissors , i still sharpen scissors in Dunedin New Zealand .
  161. This was in the 1940s and 50s
  162. My Dad , Thomas Joseph Dring , aged 14/15 worked as a "can lad" on a building site , his job was to bring tea to the workers on their break , he went on to become a roof tiler/slater .
  163. This is fascinating. My grandmother was a costumier. I was a stenographer (shorthand/typing). The typewriters weighed a ton and we had to get a male to move them. I also operated a switchboard for a while.
    I married a radio announcer when the records were Bakelite with one tune each side. Ran about 3 minutes. The needles were brass and had to be changed regularly. The microphones were large. He had a little instrument beside him, like a xylophone, to tap out the time signal.
  164. My GGG grandmother, Catherine (Parsell) Murdock Perkins, was the lighthouse keeper for the Rondout Lighthouse on the Hudson River for 50 years. Her husband George Murdock had the job and they moved in when she was pregnant and they had two toddlers. A year later, he was found drowned next to his rowboat at the shore, ready to return to the lighthouse after getting supplies in town. The town council looked for a replacement but the townspeople eventually told them to let her have the job so she could support her children. After 50 years, her son got the job for awhile, but then it was automated, as all lighthouses are nowadays.
  165. My mother was a book binder
  166. I was A Bellman for almost 30 Years. Any guesses what I did.
  167. Cordwainer, Sawyer, Clothier, Fly Driver, are but four bygone employment descriptions. Might be that the meaning of "profession" has also changed. A profession was used to describe employment which required a degree or education above that of high school and white collar and alighned to a professional association. Everyone else were either tradesmen artisans or workers especially if associated to a union.
  168. In 1960 I was a "grease monkey". That was a slang term for person that lubricated the moving parts of automobile front wheel steering assemblies.
  169. During the heyday of apartheid in South Africa, certain menial jobs were reserved only for white people, one example being any position working in the railways. My maternal great-grandfather, "Snowy" Street, held the esteemed position of 'tapiologist', and he would walk around the trains tapping the wheels with a small hammer to check for cracks. There's probably a more official title for this profession (and I dare say that I doubt the job is extinct, I'm sure that in dine of the less-industrialised nations there are tapiologists aplenty!)
  170. My grandfather was a linotype operator - setting hot metal (tin, lead, antimony), then a linotype mechanic. Along with compositors, stereo typers, photo etchers and the like, all now lost trades
  171. In the mid 1970's I trained as an Architectural Technician in a very old traditional Chartered Architects practice in the centre of Bristol. This meant drafting on the drawing board using pencils, rubbers and ink. They were just phasing out working on linen with mapping pens and ink wells, so I started using double-elephant sized (40” x 27”) tracing paper. I was taught to use razor blades to scratch out ink mistakes and taught how to use different grades of rubber to smooth the paper surface. By then I was using Rotring ink pens, stencils and Letraset.

    The tracing paper and a sheet of yellow light-sensitive paper would be put into a ‘semi-dry’ (very wet) print machine. The light passed through the tracing paper but did not penetrate where there was ink. This bleached the print paper and left a feint image that was then developed in the chemical solution and left to dry creating a print. When I started I was the ‘print boy’.

    I now use AutoCAD.
  172. One of my Great Grandfathers was a Harker to the Hall. He lived in one of the gate houses to a big house in Devon.
  173. My paternal grandfather was a bill poster.
  174. my grandpa Arthur Hahn was a horseshoer in the army in the 1930's. my husband's ancestor was a stonemason.
  175. "Bus driver". Interestingly my great grandfather was a bus driver. The bus was a horse drawn (two horses) carriage that could set about 20 people. I do have an image of him.
  176. Scissor grinders are still around in Spain. They use Pan Pipes to call the attention of customers and go around on bicycles and sometimes small vans.
  177. My great grandfather (who I remember) was a Stallion Traveller.
    He would walk a stallion twenty miles or so to a mare in heat and walk him back again the next day after sleeping alongside him.
    Only tough and horse-savvy men could do this job, especially if other mares in heat were encountered on the way. He was still doing the job in his eighties though the use of horseboxes after WW2 reduced demand.
    Young boys served as tenters - usually coo-tenters though Sheep and engines also needed tending. More experienced men became netherds or Neat Herds looking after large herds of cattle.
    Though very rare this job still exists.
    An Uncle was a boilermaker in a shipyard and so naturally worked with a boiler-maker's bottom knocker
  178. My maternal grandmother was a milliner - a maker and seller of ladies' fashion hats. My maternal Grandad was a commercial traveller (a travelling salesman of tobacco and cigarettes), as his first job. My paternal great-great grandfather was a bootmaker. My father was a patternmaking engineering tradesman - a now dying industry in Australia, as computers linked to cad-cam machines can now make accurate or precision wooden patterns for making moulds for producing metal castings in foundries - once this was done by skilled tradesmen.
  179. My great-grandfather was among other proficiency's a "mule skinner" He traveled over the Santa Fe Trail to Eastern markets, Mexico, and California several times using mule drawn wagons. Mid--1800's.
  180. In my Town Oporto, Portugal there are still some but few scissors-grinder, they blew a high pitch whistle with a characteristic melody to let people that are at home know of their presence in the street.
  181. "A scissors-grinder was a street merchant that sharpened the blades of knives and scissors. He would call out in the streets or knock at the doors to try and get business. He worked the stone grinding wheel with his foot using a treadle."

    THIS TRADE IS NOT GONE .. just updated. We have a man who comes around with an electric motor driven sharpener in the back of his station wagon. He uses his car battery for power.
  182. When I was a boy I delivered blocks of ice on my wagon from the Ice House to my mother's and neighbor's ice box three times a week in the summer.
  183. In Ontario and Quebec Canada. I remember the following jobs were still going on: the knive sharpeners until the mid 1980's; the book sellers (actually encylopedia salesmen) until the mid 1980's; and the ice cutters and sellers until the mid 1970's.
  184. My Great Grandfather, Morris (Moritz)Myers (Meyer) was a wireworker and cage maker circa 1850 in Euston Road London
  185. My Grandfather pulled a fresno. Which dug ditches or flattened land. Now can be found only as a name of a city.
  186. Bernard

    My father for over 30 yrs, was a "compounding pharmacist "in a variety of neighborhood pharmacies/drugstores in the Washington, DC area. He had to measure and mix the chemicals to to prepare liquid, capsule, powder and suppository medicines. He made ointments, lotions,mouth wash, eye drops. Those skills are rarely used today in pharmacies. Big "Pharma" prepackages all of the finished medicines today. Now a Pharmacist just has to know if he has the right pill and count out the right quantity. And print out a correct label.
  187. I grew up on a cotton farm in Texas and was a cotton picker - picked cotton from the bolls by hand and put it in a long white denim cotton sack strapped around my shoulders and dragged along the ground behind me. I also was a cotton chopper who used a hoe to thin out the very young cotton plants because the planter had spit out a nearly continuous line of seeds. Most of these seeds sprouted and grew so that there were too many plants
    to make robust grown plants with many cotton bolls. I also plowed with mules to make rows - beds - for cotton, corn, peanuts and other plantings using a middle-buster. I also was a corn-husker and sheller, and peanut shaker - shaking the soil from the roots and peanuts of the mature plants newly plowed up. I also milked cows by hand, always from the right side, as the cows were never milked from the left. It was fun to squirt milk from Bossie or funny Fray into the kitty cat's mouths and see them lick their chops. We lived on a sandy-land farm and were called "sand-lappers."
  188. I neglected to say Doctors had to write out prescriptions telling the pharmacist what chemicals, or herbals and what quantities he wanted in the medicine. My dad would at times question the doctor to be sure they meant what they wrote on the prescription.
  189. My sister was a stripper, she used to remove the cut outs in cardboard boxes to form the hand holes and simular holes with a metal spike.
  190. In 1950 I was a "Graphotype" operator stamping out hundreds of small embossed metal plates used to print checks. Before that i used a full keyboard Burroughs adding machine to Reconcile thousands of cashed US Treasury checks. There must have been 35 of us in the Check Reconciliation Office. All done by computer now.
  191. Brings back many fabulous memories
  192. those were the good old days
  193. What about typewriter repairman or bowling alley pinspotter? I remember both.
  194. Anyone remember "peddlers" who went door to door across the country, with their packs. selling needles, thread. any small "dry goods" they could carry. The last I saw one was in the late 1930's. My maternal G-father was peddler 1890-3. Dry goods store owner in Hartwell GA, 1894-1900. Paternal G-father was a Blacksmith in Albany NY . Watervliet Arsenal called him to do special heavy forge welding. their smiths couldn't do. He became a grocer, in Washington, DC.
  195. After viewing all previous comments, I saw only one reference to an elevator operator. I'm sure that this profession is extinct, or almost so.
    There are many jobs in the broadcast industry that have become obsolete over the years, due to the advance of technology.
    There was the "Lobster Crawler" who was the person who turned a small, Ferris-wheel looking device that had black pads which held type. This produced moving credits in front of a camera. Now replaced by electronic devices which are basically called character generators. Even cameramen are being replaced by robotic cameras. It would be interesting to see if anyone can come up with an occupation that may never become obsolete!
    One of the only jobs I would never want to become obsolete is that of a parent!
  196. I was origionally trained as a typist, to work in a typing pool. Pre computor's most offices had a typing pool, a room where typist copied documents for either records or for posting or delivering by courier. This was in 1971. I was later a copy typist. For this job I had to copy documents for company records. I was also taught shorthand, a method of taking dictation which has mostly been made obsolete by the use of PC's.
  197. A relative in the 1901 Irish census was a tobacco 'covener'-- I can't find out what that was. My mom did stenography, my grandma and her sister were telegraph operators in the late 1800s/early 1900s. One grgrandfather was a printer.
  198. One of my first jobs as a young boy was removing "clinkers" from a furnace at a multi-family house. The heat came from coal which was fed into the furnace by a mechanical stoker. That coal burned and the ash became large mass similar to lava, full of holes, hot, but not too heavy. I had to open the furnace, take out the clinkers and then take them outside and break them into powder in the driveway. Of course, this was in the winter.
  199. What about a "typesetter" who filled lines of lead type into "stick" which was then assembled into a large tray (can't recall the name of it) and eventually a page was born, ready for the printing press. Afetr that there was a linotype operator. This was a machine that formed and set up the type using hot lead.
  200. my grandfather in Latvia, was a cobbler and was one of the wealthier men in town [Aizpute]. He not only made shoes, but having the tools, he also worked with silver and other metals,
  201. my grandfather in Latvia, was a cobbler and was one of the wealthier men in town [Aizpute]. He not only made shoes, but having the tools, he also worked with silver and other metals, in the 1870's
  202. My great grandfather was a marble cutter and my grandfather was a paper hanger.
  203. One writer wrote that of the street hawkers who came around to your building were: "SHEENEYS". This is an extemely derogatory and prejudiced term. It defames the Jewish people, who were called that by immigration authorities at Ellis Island, who made fun of their signatures, as newly arrived persons could not write in English.
  204. How about a "Chick sexer" - anyone ever heard of this occupation? We have a friend who travels around in Canada & the US checking the sex of newborn chicks. They only want to keep the females. As far as we know he and now his son are still doing this.
  205. Thank you to those making suggestions on my "carbiner" occupation question. The ancestor was located in western NY State, so I think the possibility of a soldier-related position does not fit. However, if he was involved with manufacturing carbines that may be a possibility. I am inclined to believe it was a miss-communication between the census taker and my ancestor. I looked at a list of occupations for something that sounds like, or rhymes with carbiner, but I didn't see anything that seemed close.
  206. My great grandfather in law was a carriage painter. He painted all the fine lines around the carriage wheels with a steady hand.
  207. My Mum worked as a telephonist at the GPO office in Liverpool when she was around 17 - 18 yrs old :)
  208. I would like to know if anyone had early family involved in making shingles during the early to mid 1800's in Maine or other wooded New England states. I find the term "Bonney machine" referred to as equipment used to make the shingles. But so far I have found no reference that explains what the machine looks like or how it works. I would enjoy learning about this machinery.
  209. They Still have boot Clickers Jan but the style of boot that was made has gone, but there is still one company in Australia that makes Boots and Shoes that way, as the whole industry has gone to glue injected machines instead of tacks and scews.
  210. Great memories! Here is a new one. Chicken Plucker. Man who took the live chicken my mother selected, killed it and then had the itchy job of plucking all the feathers in preparation for cooking.
    Had a little gas fired flame that burned off the tail feathers. Chickens were delivered to the butcher alive from a farm in New Jersey or upstate New York. Another one long gone, the vegetable peddler with a horse and wagon selling his produce. Yelling out his wares as he drove his wagon through residential neighborhoods.
  211. I was a comptometer operator calculating wages in the 1960'S
  212. I was a comptometrist which was replaced by computers in the 60s also operated a switchboard and ledger machine
  213. My great grandfather repaired windmills. Not much need for that any more!
  214. We have ancestors who were 'carmen'. They used carts or buggies to deliver goods from the railroad station.
  215. Elsie,
    My Dad was taken out of the 4th. grade and put in the coal mines
    to work and help the family living in Sweetwater, TN.
    My Mother worked at a Sock factory for many years while living in
    Lenoir City, Tn.
  216. To Mike: Flax Dresser - Person who breaks and swingles flax, or prepares it for the spinner.
    Everyone: This is a great website for descriptions of old occupations.
  217. My great grandfather, Thomas Alexander, was a draper's traveller in Glasgow after he retired as a police constable. I assume he was a travelling fabric salesman. Another relative was a boot larter - not sure what that means.

    Bernard - FYI - compounding pharmacists are very common in Canada and our pharmacists are also able to prescribe medications, not just fill bottles.
  218. My grandma, Alyce, was an elevator operator at
    Frederick & Nelson's in downtown Seattle.
    She is 94 and still tells the story.
  219. Could anyone tell me what a Sarkers Runner was?
  220. A Cordwainer was a leather worker (shoe maker).
  221. My Great gradfather was employed by London Underground in the early days as a Sniffer to detect gas leaks etc.
  222. Mobile scissor sharpeners still operate. While having my hair cut in Plymouth a few weeks ago a Romanian scissor sharpener came to the shop looking for business. He charged £10 per pair & got orders. I learnt a good pair of scissors costs from £100 upwards!
  224. My children doffed the waste yarn from the bobbins on my husband's rope making machines. His grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfathers were wooden sailboat builders in New Brunswick, Canada.
  225. My Dad worked for Model Linen - picked up dirty linen and dropped off clean linen to various businesses, such as hotels, barbers, restaurants, etc., then he was a milkman - delivered dairy products to homes.

    My mom was a key punch operator.
  226. Cordwainer. I guessed a maker of cord or rope. I was wrong. It is the maker of fine leather shoes.
  227. When I was about 7 Elevators wernt push button but had an operator who used a wheeled lever to control the stops on each floor. Also they had an inner and outer set of doors. anita rockhill
  228. Ice house owner, corner newspaper boy and pony express rider from San Diego to Yuma, AZ.
  229. My 8 times grandfather was a ropemaker in Lowestoft, UK some time during the 17th century.
  230. I feel kind of old:) I used two different kind of switchboards, one with the cords that plugged in and the one where you just pushed the buttons where ever they were supposed to go. I was young, just out of high school and had some fun with the cords. I was talking to my Mom's boyfriend and don't ask me how, but I managed to get the three us on the phone at once and Mom got after me thinking I had skipped work. I had her call me at work after we all talked and hung up. The easier one to use was fun at times, but as I only worked it at lunch time as a substitute, I accidently disconnected an important call for the President of the company, but my timing was good because Doris came back from lunch, noticed my white face asked what was wrong and she had it fixed in seconds.I love you Doris wherever you are--still on earth or to your just rewards. I also worked on the big graph machine, can't remember the whole name. I typed new accounts for people getting oil from the company I worked for. It was fun ,but noisy:) and I super respected the card punch operator in the one company I worked for, I was an address changer in an insurance company and when I had the time I'd go viist and watch. I thought I wanted to do that, but when she let me try, OHHHHHH. It zoomed off on me and we kind of laughed. She was great at it and I never did learn it.
  231. Here, in Salinas, Ecuador, knife and scissor sharpeners also still operate, carrying their wheels with them. They charge $1 per knife. Don't know how much for scissors. Had several knifes done just a few months ago.
  232. My first job (in 1960) was as a tracer in an engineering office. I traced draughtsmen's drawings onto special thick translucent waxy sheets using pens with special nibs and black Indian ink (woe betide you if you made a mistake, because it was virtually impossible to erase anything). The traces were then photographed to make blueprints.
    My mother was a comptometer operator in a British bank until WW2. A comptometer was a machine that looked like a typewriter with a handle on the side. If you wanted to add numbers you typed in the numbers and turned the handle clockwise: subtraction meant turning the handle anticlockwise. Multiplication meant repeat additions, and division was repeat subtractions! A complicating factor for her was that the machine worked on a decimal system, so that pound, shillings and pence first had to be converted. My mother had no problems at all when decimalisation came to Britain!
  233. My Grandfather was a Taylor. He made Men's Suits by Hand
  234. The following occupations became the last names of those who practiced them in early England. Many of those workers were members of the artisans' guilds. I leave it up to you to guess what their jobs were, and to decide whether anyone is still employed in these trades today. Here goes!

    Boatwright, Blacksmith, Blender, Brewer, Bunger, Butcher, Carter, Carpenter, Cartwright, Cobbler, Cooper, Ginner, Goldsmith, Joiner, Mason, Miller, Millwright, Painter, Plumber, Printer, Sawyer, Silversmith, Tanner, Taylor, Teamster, Weaver, Wheelwright,

    And, of course, there were other names related to occupations not associated with guilds, but done rurally, often in or near the home. For example:
    Breeder, Carder, Churner, Dairyman, Drummer, Farmer, Grinder, Hammer, Harper, Herder, Kindler, Logger, Mills, Miner, Pastor, Pilot, Priest, Quilter, Rafter, Shepherd, Smith, Spinner, Stockman. Woodsman.

    Is it any wonder that today the first question we ask a new acquaintance is "What do you do?" Why do you suppose that one pilot's helper, Mr. Clemmons, decided not to choose Depthsounder as his pen name!
  235. A 'maltster' apparently made malt for alcoholic beverge in England
  236. You say the Telephone Operator picture can from Seattle; however,
    the second person from the right is me. How is it possible that it says Seattle. That picture was taken in Merchantville, New Jersey.
  237. My mother's first job as a teenager was sewing baseballs in the Spalding plant in Brantford On. Canada
  238. As a young man I was a lineman. One job was to raise the poles into the hole in the ground using "pike" poles.
  239. my Grandfather and his father was an Oil and Colour Maker, I was an Usherette in a Cinema Doris
  240. I was an accounting machine operator for National Cash Registers, in Melbourne, from 1957 till about 1970. From the mid 1960 s computers were being used, but not like the ones we all own today, they took up whole rooms and only large companies had them.
    I did company accounts, debitors, creditors, payroll and stock flow.
    Now that is all done on computer.
  241. My grandmother and step grandmother both were mantle makers early 1900's
  242. I still remember the Rag and Bone men that came to our street..
  243. In 1966 I worked as a key punch operator. Our machines punched cards for computers to read. The faster you were, the more you were paid! In 1969, I also worked as a computer tape librarian for a large company. We had 100,000 big reels of computer tape. The tape drive operators would request the ones they needed, I would pull them from the shelves and take them out to the computer floor.
  244. There used to be a service available for new mothers where they would deliver clean diapers to you several times a week. You would leave the rinsed out diapers in a special container on your porch. They would pick them up and then leave your clean ones!!!
  245. My husband's great grandfather and his family operated their own brick making business; they made the bricks out in the field out of mud and hay and then sold them. They made a good living for many years and we are fortunate enough to have a wonderful picture of them out making bricks.
  246. My Ggrandfather Stephan H. Baldwin invented the comptometer, his brother Eugene Baldwin, worked for Parker Brothers, invented most of their games. Other brothers and cousins were Baldwin Brass, Baldwin Locomotive etc. Their collective children( actors ) are my cousins.
  247. As a 12-14 year old boy, I sold "Cloverbloom Salve" and also "Grit Newspapers". I also had a "Shoe Shine" box and went around town on Saturdays shinning shoes.
  248. My great grandfather was a "billiard marker"
  249. my great great great grand father was a sieve maker ,another great grandfather was an umbrella maker All from London
  250. I believe that scissors-grinders are still around because in my town at the farmers market there's a guy with a stand for that. It's electric (I think), but still. Maybe its a small town thing.
  251. My Grandfather, Claude Johnson Huson was a paymaster in the Canal Zone
  252. In Sydney in the 1950`s we used to be visited on a weekly basis by the dykeman for the collection of nightsoil,you could tell of his progress in the streets by the barking of the dogs.
  253. Grandfather was a telegrapher in Revana, Nebraksa for the CB&Q for 45 years.
  254. My grandfather raised white mice for laboratories.
    I doubt if there is a special name for that occupation!
    He also started his own company selling postage stamps to collectors and paid for his four daughter's weddings with the proceeds! I guess that Philatelist is about the only formal title he had!Another one of his "occupations" was converting salt water fish to fresh water fish, for aquariums and pet stores.
  255. My paternal grandfather/g and gg grandfathers were Puddlers in the Iron industry i.e. they stirred the molten metal in large tubs to remove the impurities and bubbles - very hard and dangerous work. Other paternal relatives in the 1800's were Moulders, and Hewers, all quite well paid jobs as they were dangerous. Hewers worked at the coal face with pick and shovel getting the coal from the coal face. Not quite sure what moulders did. Moulders employed several men though. Also in early 1800's a Coker - again not sure what it is but I know he employed 8 men. Information from a book on Shropshire (England) on the Iron and Coal industries.
  256. When I was a boy in the 1930s and 1940s, I worked for a milkman who delivered milk to homes.

    There was also men who ice delivered ice in those days.
  257. The older sister of my great grandfather was a corset maker in the late 1890's according to the Detroit City Directory.
  258. I was born in England; my father was a coal miner, and when I was very young we lived in a colliery house; by the side of the front door half way up the wall was a built in slate so the miner could write down the shift he was on. This enabled the knocker-up to knock on the bedroom window to wake him up at the correct time. All miners slept at the front of the house. There are still many of those homes ( no longer owned by the collieries) in England where the slate is still evident.

    While doing research I found on a marriage certificate that one of my third great grand fathers was a white smith. It took hours of research before I found out that a white smith did intricate designs on silver.
  259. Thank you MyHeritage for this month's popular obsolete occupations. Boyhood memories from the 1940s came flooding back - the North Toronto hometown lumberyard for building contractors; once new houses filled every lot, it was gone. There were the paper boys who hawked the daily newspapers at busy street corners, the telephone house-to-house and long-distance switchboard operators (they insered phone plugs into appropriate jacks), door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen and household small-items peddlers, main street shoe cobblers, and bowling alley pin-spotters. There was the scissors grinder who walked the streets swinging a handbell; mothers would bring out their knives and scissors to be sharpened on a stone grinding wheel rotated with a foot-treadle. The Ice Man twice a week (three in the summer) delivered 25 or 40 pound blocks of ice carried by a pair of tongs, which he dropped into the top compartment of our ice-box; the melt water ran down a drain pipe into a tray on the floor that had to be emptied often. The Bread Man came by often, the Coal Man winter only, The Scrap Man rarely, and the Fruit & Vegetables Man from a local farm seasonally. Until the 1950s all were by wagons horse-drawn. Thanks to all the contributors thus far for their wonderful memories and knowledge.
  260. Another now extinct profession is elevator operator.
  261. Thanks Bruce G, bought back memory of myself in the mid 1940,s selling the Daily Mirror and Sun newspapers out side the main gates of the Nestle chocolate factory located at Abbotsford in Sydney.
    My father was a tyre maker at the Dunlop factory in Drummoyne, Sydney during WW2 and later a blast furnace operator, melting ore to be used in casting parts for windmills.
  262. I really liked this article, but I agree Liam, scissors-grinder is still an existing job: at least in the capitol of Hungary they still walk the streets in the garden suburbs, I usually ask them sharpen my hedge clippers and pruners.
  263. I had a great grandfather who was a broom maker! He was partially and then totally blind. Could not support all the family. The older kids were sent to work and the youngers left in an orphanage to be adopted out.
  264. My Grandfather was a Shingle Pusher - he wheel barrowed loads of shingle onto his Scow - a type of craft unique to New Zealand in the early part of the 19th century. Another forbear was a 'lime burner' in England - a dangerous occupation - one that burns limestone or shells to make lime.
  265. One of my 4th great grandfathers was a carriage maker. He made the wooden coachwork of carriages. I believe he met my 4th great grandmother at work, she was an upholsterer.
  266. I remember the ragman, with his horse drawn carriage. They were still around in the 50's. "Rags!! Rags!!"
  267. Not as interesting as most posts here, but my first job at 17 years of age was as a policy typist in a typing pool for New York Life Insurance company during the early 1960's. The typing pool consisted of about 20 women who prior to automation used manual typewriters to individually type Life Insurance policies. Each policy had multiple carbon copies and we were expected to type quickly with no errors. If the typist did make an error the only recourse was to try to conceal the error 'perfectly' through a method which used chalk and a razor blade. All policies were double-checked by a supervisor and if the error was detected, you were sent to a high-ranking manager to exchange the old policy for a new one. I only recall seeing him once in the year I worked there, but still remember the constant concern of this 17 year old to make it my last visit.
  268. My father, grandfather and great grandfather were papermakers in Wookey Hole England. They handmade paper from rags. They had to serve a 7 year apprenticeship. The mill is open today as a tourist attraction.
  269. My grandfather was a ' brakeman ' which entailed stopping the carriages attached to trains as they slowed by inserting a long metal or wooden spoke into the wheels...a pretty dangerous job.He was killed doing this job as an immigrant employed working on the railways near Brownsville,Pennsylvania in April 1910...
  270. In the late 1960's I was a telatype (Telex) operator in a regional medical lab, when the test results were ready I had to type them onto the machine and send them to various outlying hospitals and clinics. I've also been a switchboard operator and a stenographer. A friend's grandfather had been a hair splitter (until his eyes got bad) which involved splitting the long hair from animals in half or quarters so they could be used to make wigs.
  271. My East End (London) gr g'father was a sealskin ?operator - two daughters were umbrella makers Love to know exactly what a sealskin Maker/operator really was. Many of the family worked in the fur industry
    Do hope someone is collating all this info and that it would be published at some stage. Our local library has a book on old occupations but many of the above occupations are not in it.
    By the way - we used to have not only the milkman (milkie) but also the dunnyman!! Guess!
    Good old Aussie use of ie on the end of everything
  272. Till the 1950'ies we used to have "Mattress Fixers" calling out on the streets: Mattresses at that time were filled with cotton-wool which rapidly sunk in and lost flexibility. The fixer would take the mattress to the sidewalk, tear it open and pour the wool on a sheet. His tool looked like a big harp with a single heavy steel string: He put the string into the heap and hit it with a wooden mallet. The vibrations of the string would "tear" the lumps of wool to separate the fibers, while making a typical chirping sound. The "revived" material could now be pushed back into the mattress and it was crudely stitched.
  273. I suggest that the readers should first concentrate on professions which no longer exist or have dramatically changed rather than on professions which have slightly changed or moved far from our sight.
    As far as I know steel ships today are welded, while till the middle of last century many ships were riveted. The "riveter" profession may have gone, in any case the rivets are not hammered with a manual hammer but instead with a pneumatic hammer. This is a real change.
    The "stator" coils of new electric "squirrel cage" motors (used e.g. for fans) are assembled today by automatic machines, however some years ago in China I saw a teenage girl sitting on the sidewalk doing just this assembly work: This profession has not disappeared, but remained in distant provinces, far from our eyes.
  274. Look "scissors grinder" up in "Google Images" and the first image you'll find is an engraving by the Dutch artist of the mid-17th century- Adriaen van Ostade . I am a proud owner of a copy of this engraving.
    While at it, I suggest you browse through these "scissor grinder" images, but look also for other artwork by Adriaen van Ostade!
    Happy browsing!
  275. What about farthingale or crinoline makers? Whale-bone corset makers?
    Does anyone still repair pantyhose or nylon stockings?
  276. My father was a basket maker. He left school at the age of 13 and learned this trade at Snapper near Goodleigh in North Devon U.K. Later he taught basketry at a T.B hospital in Birmingham and referred to himself as an Occupational Therapist.
  277. My husband's G. Grandfather had a saying for roudy children in their home...." if you don't behave - I will put the Ding Bats " on you! He was a Printer and designed little motifs to put at the top of page in books to designate a new chapter.

    My G.G. Grandfather was a Mail Runner 1800 in Ross County Ohio. I wonder if he did this by pony or Foot or by Railroad? He was in the War 1812. They had Military Spy's called mail runners!
  278. My GGGG Grandfather was listed in the 1870 census as a "charcoal burner" and in 1880 as a "collier" .

    His son, was listed in 1880 as a "heater of iron"
  279. A revolutionary war ancestor was listed as an "artificer". Either someone who was an army handyman or something to do with blowing things up
  280. Working-class people from babies to old people in Wigan, Lancashire wore iron shod, wooden-soled clogs with leather uppers up to the 1950's. Girls' clogs often had "rubber-irons". A clogger was a man who repaired clogs. Clogs made wonderful ice-skates in winter.
    Knocker-ups were still alive and well in that town around the same time. Lizzie, our knocker-up started her round for mine-workers at about 4-30 am. Who knocked Lizzie up?
  281. My GGrandfather was a Sanitation Engineer for the city of Lincoln, Nebraska. That meant he cleaned out outhouses.
    My Grandfather was a mail clerk on the train. He sorted mail on the train. Then as the train rolled through stations at each town, he put a mail bag onto a hook and pulled a mailbag off a hook...to be sorted on the train.
  282. Fastinating! I found a reference of my sister's great great grandfather-in-law! She will be very excited.
  283. My father and myself worked our own business as licenced bottle collectors. We had regular customers who we would call on weekly,fortnightly and monthly to remove the empty beer bottles and return them to the breweries for cleansing and refilling. The life of a beer bottle was said to be seven fillings, The introduction cans and stubbies wiped out this wonderful way of making a living until the 1980s when the breweries stopped filling 26 fl ounce bottles. The same applied to soft drink bottles.
  284. My grandfather, William Redding was a wooden oil rig builder in the 20s and 30s. I worked at an insurance company in the 50s where we filed the log sheets of the door-to-door salesmen. They recorded the men's new business, lapsed policies and reinstatements. I also took shorthand and typed on a really old Remington typewriter until the 80s. My husband was one of those door-to-door ins. agents from the 60s to the 80s. He had some policies which he "inherited" from as far back as the Great Depression The premiums were nickels and dimes. He was one of the first to be called in an emergency along with the doctor, priest and the police.
  285. My Grandfather in the late 1800s was a "Lamplighter" in Glasgow and when turning the lights off at dawn earned extra money as a "Knocker-up" for working people.
    My Father in late 1940s England was a "Tallyman" selling goods ( door to door ) on the instalment plan.
  286. I had a grand uncle who was a cutler in Queensland and this job was to keep mine equipment sharpened
  287. My Father was a telephone lineman. Now no poles.
  288. I was a Linotype Operator for several years after high school. This machine cast a line of type from molten lead by using "Matrices" which are brass pieces that have a reverse of a letter machine into them for the lead to be cast into. The matrices were selected by a modified keyboard that allowed them to drop from a brass case into a collector, then sent over to the casting system on the Linotype machine.
  289. A "corn weigher" was called "Korenweger"
    The corn was weighed when sold or transported (loaded onto ships, etc).
    In earlier days korenwegers belonged to guilds, they had to swear oaths and had their own badges.
    Google images for "korenweger" a sample of such a badge (draagteken).
  290. While attending college in 1950's worked nights delivering telegrams. Only one at night, but there were 8-10 delivering on
    motorcycles in day. Even in 70's some offices had 10-15 employees. I left WU in 75. After that repaired some of the
    old 4-6 minute fax machines that rented for around 50.00 a month.
    Now you can buy them for 100.00
  291. My great grandfather came to Chicago IL from Germany. He was a shoemaker . He designed, fitted and made ballet shoes. My daddy was a boy pin setter in bowling alleys and sold newspaper subscriptions during the depression. Ha. No one could afford a paper in the depression! He delivered milk before school in the am. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade and rose to management at Clark equipment Corp. before he retired! He was a marine in WWII the pacific theatre.
    P.S. He caddied for the poet Carl Sandburg.
  292. My great grand mother, grand mother and great aunt were all telephone switchboard operators during WWII in Oakland, CA. As it turns out, I work in the telephone business today! Guess it's in the blood.

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