Laying Railroad Track

Jobs and Careers in 1912

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Today we have a variety of jobs and careers, just like they did a hundred years ago. It is difficult to detail all of the jobs back then. I will discuss a few of the more prevalent ones that seem to have disappeared or diminished greatly with the passage of time.

There were still many professionals—such as lawyers and doctors—but not to the extent we have today. Fewer people went on to obtain a college degree.

Inside a Textile Mill

Textile Mills—these were very common in the south. During the industrial revolution in the late 19th Century textiles exploded. This was the ability to make clothes with a machine and not just by hand. Children would leave school at a young age {3rd, 4th, 5th grade} to work in the weaving room. It was also common to find many women working in the mills. My grandparents and great-grandparents did this work and I’ve heard many stories about their experiences through the years.

A normal day farming

Farming—was still very prevalent in the early 20th Century. Large families still existed and each child had their own chores each day. This was in the days before the local supermarket, when you had to rely on your land to supply most of your needs. This would include chickens for eggs and meat, cows for milk, and vegetables and grain planted and harvested throughout the year.

A Mine

Mining—this exploded in the late 19th Century and many prospectors moved out west for the California Gold Rush. Mining wasn’t just for gold, but for other items such as coal, silver, copper, and lead. It also just wasn’t in California, but took place through many areas of the United States. Occasionally we still hear about mine cave ins and have a sense of the danger these men faced on a daily basis. In 1912 they did not have all of the machinery used today.

Laying Railroad Track

Railroad—the first railroad was opened in America in 1830. It exploded from 1850-1890. Even in 1912, they were still laying tracks and the railroad was still a major source of transportation of both passengers and hauling materials. As the rail system increased more track had to be laid and engineers were needed. I had a great-uncle and great-grandfather that made their living working for the railroad.

Vaudeville—this was the earliest start of what we know of as the stage. Vaudeville consisted of animals, dancers, singers, comedians, magicians, acrobats, jugglers, athletes and more. These groups traveled from town to town performing their shows. Vaudeville remained very popular until the 1930s. By the late 1890s, large houses had been established for the acts. It was said that if an act could succeed in Peoria, Illinois, then it could succeed anywhere. You’d hit the big time when you played at New York City’s Palace Theatre {The Palace}.

These are just a few of the occupations that have diminished with the passage of time. I’m sure there are many more, but at least this will give you an idea of how times have changed. What kind of work would you be doing 100 years ago?

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