Definitions of Common Nineteenth-Century Occupations
Some of the occupations of Eighth Ward residents found on this site may be unfamiliar to a modern reader because advances in industrialization and technology have made many of these jobs obsolete. The following definitions have been taken from the 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary and have been groupedby occupational categories as found in the 1890 Statistical Report of the Federal Census.
Agriculture, Fisheries, and Mining
- Cowboy: A cattle herder.
- Alderman: One of a board or body of municipal officers next in order to the mayor who has legislative, administrative, or magisterial duties.
- Physician: A person skilled in physic or the art of healing; one who is authorized to prescribe remedies for and to treat disease; a doctor of medicine.
Domestic and Personal Service
- Barber: One whose occupation it is to shave or trim the beard, and to cut and dress the hair of his patrons.
- Chambermaid: A maidservant who has care of making beds, sweeping, cleaning, etc. in chambers.
- Domestic-One who lives in the family of another as a hired household assistant; a house servant.
- Laborer: One who labors in a toilsome occupation; a person who does work that requires strength rather than skill, as distinguished from that of an artisan.
- Nurse: One who nourishes by supplying food; one who tends or brings up young children or the sick or infirm.
- Sexton: Under officer of a church, whose business it is to take care of the church building and the vessels, vestments, etc. belonging to a church.
- Waiter: One who waits; an attendant, especially at tables.
- Watchman: One set to watch; a person who keeps guard of a building or the streets of a city by night.
- Whitewasher: One who whitewashes by using a composition of water and lime or sizing to whiten walls, ceilings, etc.
Trade and Transportation
- Carter: A man who drives a cart.
- Clerk: One employed to keep records or accounts; a scribe; an accountant; or one employed as an assistant at a shop.
- Clothier: One who sells cloth or clothes.
- Coachman: A man whose business it is to drive a coach or carriage.
- Compositor: One who sets type and arranges it for use.
- Conductor: One in charge of a public conveyance, such as a railcar or a streetcar.
- Constable: An officer of the peace who has power as a conservator of the public peace and bound to execute the warrants of judicial officers.
- Copyist: One who copies or transcribes.
- Drayman: One who attends a dray, which is a strong low cart or carriage used for heavy burdens.
- Druggist: One who deals in medicines without compounding them; a pharmacist; an apothecary.
- Grocier: A trader who deals in tea, sugar, spices, coffee, fruits, and various other commodities.
- Hackman: Driver of a hack or carriage for hire.
- Hominy: One who deals in the sale of hominy, which is hulled and broken corn that is prepared for eating by boiling in water or milk.
- Hostler: A person who cares for horses at an inn or stable; a person in care of a locomotive after it is left by an engineer after a trip.
- Huckster: A retailer of small articles, provisions, and the like; a peddler.
- Lineman: A rail examiner for the railroad; a telegraph repairman.
- Livery: One who feeds, stables, and cares for horses for compensation.
- Notions: One who deals in small knickknacks or helpful inventions.
- Peddler: One who sells small quantities of goods; a traveling trader; a hawker.
- Porter: A man in charge of a door or gate; one who waits at the door to receive messages; or a carrier of burdens, such as luggage.
- Stationer: A bookseller or publisher; one who sells paper, pens, quills, inkstands, pencils, blank books, and other articles used in writing.
- Teamster: One who drives a team of horses or oxen.
- Tobacconist: A dealer of or manufacturer of tobacco products.
Manufacturing and Mechanical Industries
- Baker: One whose business it is to bake bread, biscuit, etc.
- Blacksmith: One who works in iron with a forge and makes iron utensils, horseshoes, etc.
- Bleacher-One whose occupation it is to whiten fabric by using bleach or other whitening agents.
- Bottler: One who bottles wine, beer, soda water, etc.
- Brewer: One who brews; one who prepares malt liquors.
- Butcher: One who slaughters animals or dresses their flesh for market.
- Confectioner: One whose occupation it is to make or sell confections, which are preparations of fruits preserved with sugar, such as peaches, pears, melons, nuts, orange peels, etc., and/or sugar candies.
- Cooper: One who makes barrels, hogshead casks, etc.
- Currier: One who curries and dresses leather after it has been tanned for use by scraping, cleansing, beating, smoothing, and coloring.
- Distiller: One who extracts alcoholic liquors by distillation.
- Dressmaker: Maker of gowns or similar garments; a mantuamaker.
- Dyer: One whose business it is to dye cloth and the like.
- Fitter: One who adjusts different parts of machinery to each other.
- Glazier: One who sets glass.
- Joiner: One who constructs items by joining pieces of wood; a mechanic who does woodwork (stairs, doors, etc.) necessary for finishing buildings.
- Liner: One who lines, as in the lining of shoes.
- Machinist: One skilled in the use of machine tools.
- Maltster: a maltman; one who deals in malt made from barley, oats, etc.
- Mantuamaker: One who makes dresses, cloaks, etc. for women.
- Mason: One who builds with stone or brick; one who prepares stone for building purposes.
- Mechanic: One who practices the mechanic arts; one skilled or employed in shaping and uniting materials, such as wood or metal, using tools or instruments.
- Miller: One who attends a flour mill or grist mill.
- Milliner: A person, usually a woman, who makes, trims, or deals in hats, bonnets, headdresses, etc. for women.
- Molder/Moulder: One who molds or forms into shape; one skilled in the art of making molds for castings in a foundry.
- Plasterer: One who applies plaster or mortar.
- Plumber: One who works in lead, especially one who furnishes, fits, and repairs lead, iron, or glass pipes for conveyance of water, gas, or drainage of buildings.
- Potter: One who makes earthen vessels.
- Pressman: One who attends to a printing press.
- Puddler: One who converts cast iron into wrought iron by the process of puddling, which is a process where cast iron is converted to steel or wrought iron by applying intense heat and frequent stirring in a reverberatory furnace in the presence of an oxidizing substance by which it is freed from a portion of its carbon and other impurities.
- Seamstress: A woman whose occupation is sewing; a needlewoman.
- Tailor: One who cuts out and makes men's garments; also one who cuts out and makes ladies' outer garments.
- Tailoress: A female tailor.
- Tallowmaker: One who makes candles or soap from the fat of animals, such as sheep or ox.
- Tinner: One who makes or works in tin.
- Upholsterer: One who provides hangings, coverings, cushions, curtains, and the like; one who upholsters.
- Warper: One who forms yarn or thread into warps or webs for the loom.
- Wheelwright: A man who makes or repairs wheels and wheeled vehicles, such as carts, wagons, etc.
Report on Population of the United States Federal Census: 1890, Vol. 1, Part II. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1897). 304-305. United States Federal Census Bureau website. Accessed on 31 May 2005.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. (Springfield: C & G Merriam Co., 1913). Dict.org. (Plainfield: Micra, Inc., 1996). Accessed on 19 December 2005.
For further reading:
- Business Directory--find out who worked these occupations in the Eighth Ward.