Jobs Not Done Any Longer

Jobs or occupations done by your parents, grandparents or great grandparents may not be done in the workforce any long – plenty of professions have vanished over the years as society has changed and technology has progressed.

A noticeable one is Switchboard Operators – those ‘hello girls’ who connected your phone calls. Not done anymore.

Before sewage systems for homes, people needed the “Night soil collector” who removed human waste from people’s privies.

There were ‘Doffers’, who were nimble-fingered young boys who worked in textile factories removing and replacing bobbins from the spinning frames, and were a common sight in American mills until 1933 when child labor was finally outlawed.

In the coal mines, ‘Coal Breaking’ entailed separating impurities from coal by hand and was mainly carried out by children. The work was dangerous and children often cut and burned their hands, and some even lost their lives. By 1920 the cruel practice had ended.

The ‘manufacturing of buggies and the buggy whip industry’ was thriving in the 1890s with thousands of companies and workers producing the essential buggy and riding accessory but had all but vanished by the early 20th century as the automobile replaced the horse and carriage.

The ‘delivery of big chunks of ice’ to homes and businesses ended by the early 1950s with electricity and the refrigerator available to most people. So ended the job of the iceman.

A strong ‘stoker’ was employed on steam trains, steamships, and sawmills. They shoveled coal into the coal burner. As trains, ships and the same mills changed the was no need for a stoker.

Many people over the decades worked as a ‘Telegraph Operator.’ Some even in your own family. They were in small towns to big cities. That is an occupation no longer needed.

‘Linotype machine operators’ were used by newspapers and magazines for typesetting from the late 19th century until the 1980s, when computer technology made them defunct.

Found in nearly all restaurants, lounges, nightclubs, restaurants, theaters, even airports during the 1920s to the 1960s were ‘Cigarette girls’. They went around to the tables selling packs of cigarettes. When cigarette machines came about, the girls were out of business.

An ‘Elevator Operator’ came about because elevators were manual and required an operator. Later it was just styled to have someone greet you at the elevators and operate it. That occupation is gone.

The ‘door-to-door salesman’ or woman were everywhere selling encyclopedias, brushes, vacuum cleaners, make-up, cleaning supplies, etc. These peddlers no longer exist.

The ‘milkman’ delivery to the home of milk, sometimes eggs and butter was a welcome sight at the house. No longer, they were pretty much working by the mid-1960s.

More recent times, ‘video stores’ (VHS and CD) were everywhere. The king was Blockbuster, for instance, employed 84,300 staff at its peak in 2004 and counted 9,094 locations. Nowadays, the retailer has just two stores, one in Alaska and one in Oregon, that have a handful of employees.

Check out the occupations of all your ancestors – see how many jobs no longer exist.

Photo: Milkman of the 1920s.

Related Blogs:

Abbreviations of Occupations

Women’s Occupations by Another Name

Your Ancestor’s Occupation

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