The Rational Dress Society and Victorian Dress Reform

In 1881, a group of high society women gathered in London to form a new organization. They named their group the Rational Dress Society, intending to reform Victorian women’s dress. The group came up with criteria for the perfect dress. It included:  

  1. Freedom of Movement
  2. Absence of pressure over any part of the body
  3. No more weight than is necessary for warmth, and both weight and warmth evenly distributed.
  4. Grace and beauty combined with comfort and convenience
  5. Not departing too conspicuously from the ordinary dress of the time

Their ideas were revolutionary and controversial. Typical Victorian dress styles incorporated heavy fabrics, tight corsets, bustles, hoop skirts, and extravagant ornamentation. The women argued that dress reform would allow them to participate in activities like cycling. Bicycles had become a symbol of freedom for many women who found the sport liberating and emancipating.  

Lady Harberton

A founding member of the society was Viscountess Florence Wallace Pomeroy, also known as Lady Harberton. Lady Harberton, the daughter of wealthy landowners, married James S. Pomeroy. He later became the 6th Viscount Harberton. In 1880, Lady Harberton took up the cause of dress reform. She loved to cycle, but heavy, long skirts prevented her from enjoying the activity. She championed the reformed dress, which consisted of baggy pantaloons worn underneath a knee-length skirt. She also invented the divided skirt, which initially evoked jeers on both sides of the pond. Some feared that trifling with a traditional women’s dress was a step down a path to loosening moral values.

In 1883, the Rational Dress Society sponsored an exhibition held in London. The exhibit included shorter dresses, divided skirts, “costumes for climbing for lady mountaineers, and a costume for walking.” One man reported to The Times that the women in his family discarded their corsets and found new freedom in dancing, walking, tricycling, lawn tennis, and other open-air exercises. They vowed never to return to corsets and heavy skirts. Attitudes for many women (and men) were undergoing a seismic shift. The “woman of the future” wanted freedom in her clothing – and freedom within other aspects of her life.  

The struggle for rational dress came to a head after an incident in 1898. Lady Harberton went cycling in Surrey. She stopped for lunch at the Hautboy Hotel but was turned away for improper dress. Lady Harberton sued the hotel but lost the case because the hotel had offered alternative seating in the bar. Nevertheless, the case brought attention to rational dress and a victory for women who advocated for it. Lady Harberton spent decades promoting clothing that would make life easier for women. Later in her life, she also became an advocate for the women’s suffrage movement. Lady Harberton died in 1911. The Guardian eulogized her as an “enthusiastic and undaunted advocate” for dress reform.

If you would like to learn more about Lady Harberton, or the Rational Dress Society, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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Twentieth Anniversary of 9/11

September 11, 2021, marks the 20th anniversary of four coordinated terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda, an Islamist extremist group, against the United States. The attacks began at 8:46 a.m. EST on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed a hijacked commercial jet into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. A second hijacked jet crashed into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. A third hijacked plane hit the Pentagon at 9:37 a.m., and a fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field at 10:03 a.m., after passengers and crew aboard attempted to retake the aircraft from terrorists. In less than two hours, 2,977 innocent people lost their lives, and our country changed forever. Many remember where they were and what they were doing the moment they heard the news of 9/11. Newspapers around the world worked feverishly in the hours and days following the attacks. Reporters gathered facts and reported the news. Soon the human toll emerged as heartbreaking stories came to light. We’ve combed through our archives to bring you a sample of 9/11 headlines from across the country and around the world.

Los Angeles Times – September 11, 2001
New York Daily News – September 12, 2001
The Independent: London – September 12, 2001
The Sydney Morning Herald: Sydney, Australia – September 12, 2001
Calgary Herald: Calgary, Canada – September 12, 2001
Evening Standard: London – September 12, 2001

Where were you on the morning of 9/11? See more headlines from this tragic chapter in American history on Newspapers.com™.

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New Papers from Washington and Michigan!

We have recently added new papers from Tacoma, Washington, and Michigan to our archives. With these new titles, we’ve added over 7 million images in July and will add another 8 million in August. We’re on track to add 40 million new pages by the end of the year! Our archives keep growing and we’re working hard to bring added value to your Newspapers.com subscription.

Washington: In 1873, the Tacoma area was chosen to be the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad. Tacoma was incorporated in 1875, and in 1880 the weekly Tacoma Ledger was founded. The News Tribune traces its roots back to that paper, which became The Tacoma Daily Ledger. The Daily Ledger merged with The News and the Tacoma Tribune to form the Tacoma News Tribune and Ledger in 1918. The paper adopted the name Tacoma News Tribune in 1979, and our archives for The News Tribunedate back to 1889.

The News Tribune 11.08.1940

In July 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened to traffic. Engineers realized the bridge swayed in windy conditions, earning it the nickname “Galloping Gertie.” Just four months after the bridge opened, it collapsed spectacularly on November 7, 1940. The bridge began to sway in 40-mile-per-hour winds, then oscillated and twisted until finally breaking apart. Before its collapse, college student Winfield Brown paid a dime for the thrill of walking across the bridge in high wind. When the bridge began to rock, Brown described the terror. “I was certain I wasn’t going to make it…sometimes the bridge tipped right on its side, and I could look straight down at the water, 190 feet below.” Brown said when the motion became too intense to stand, he crawled. He saw the bridge cracking up as pieces of concrete whistled past his head. He finally made it off the bridge just before the collapse. His only injuries were bruises and abrasions.

Michigan: Our new Michigan papers include The Pigeon Progress and The Progress-Advance from Pigeon; The Huron County News from Harbor Beach; The Huron Tribune from Bad Axe; The Elkton Advance from Elkton; The Saginaw Daily News from Saginaw; and The Huron County News from Port Austin.

The Huron County News 04.02.1862

These papers date back to 1862 and include news from the Civil War. Nearly one-quarter of Michigan men served in the Union forces during the war. Following the war, Michigan’s economy prospered. State officials invested heavily in public education and dedicated more money to education than any other state in the nation.

If you have ancestors from Michigan, be sure to check out columns like this “Locals” column in The Pigeon Progress. Residents were encouraged to call the paper to report on any visitors. If your ancestors are German immigrants, they may be part of a group of about a thousand families that settled in the Saginaw Valley. The immigrants moved from Germany to Russia, and later to Michigan. They found the Saginaw Valley’s climate conducive to growing sugar beets, a crop they had cultivated successfully in Russia. Search the Michigan papers to find wedding announcements and obituaries for your ancestors.

To learn more about the history of Washington and Michigan, explore our collection of new papers today on Newspapers.com™.

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Using Passenger Lists and Newspapers to Research Immigrant Ancestors

Passenger lists are important records for tracing immigrant ancestors. Before air travel became more common in the 1950s, ships were the primary mode of intercontinental travel. Passenger lists usually included passenger name, place of origin, birth date, departure date, arrival date, and the ship name. Using this information, a search through Newspapers.com may shed light on your ancestor’s immigration journey with new details not found in a passenger list. Here’s a couple of questions to ask yourself when researching ancestors that immigrated aboard a ship.

  • Why Did Your Ancestor Immigrate?

A search of newspapers might provide insight into the events that led to your ancestor’s decision to immigrate. For example, a search of Irish papers in the 1840s reveals countless articles about the Irish Potato Famine. The famine led to more than a million deaths between 1845-1849 and prompted many emigrants to leave Ireland.

  • What Was Your Ancestor’s Voyage Like?

Newspapers can yield details of your ancestor’s journey. For example, on August 24, 1848, the Ocean Monarch departed Liverpool, England, bound for Boston. A fire broke out on board, and after attempts to extinguish it failed, passengers began jumping into the sea. Several ships came to the rescue but not before 180 perished. The following month, Boston papers reported as survivors from the Monarch began arriving in Boston aboard a different ship. Search newspapers for the name of your ancestor’s ship, then search the departure and arrival dates. You might uncover a story about their journey.

  • Can Newspapers Reveal the Story Behind Those Who Were Born at Sea?

Thousands of mothers gave birth to babies during their immigration voyage. Babies born at sea are often listed at the bottom of the ship’s manifest or on the final page. This Boston Globe article from 1895 reported that a baby born at sea aboard a ship flying the American flag was entitled to automatic citizenship. In 1900, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiled nine city residents, all born at sea, and shared their individual immigration stories. If you have an ancestor born at sea, you might find details of their experience in the newspaper.

  • What Was Happening at their Port of Arrival?

If you had an ancestor that arrived in New York City in August 1906, you might learn that the city was experiencing a terrific heatwave. The New-York Tribune reported a temperature of 106 degrees and described the impact the heat was having on immigrants. At Ellis Island, immigrants from Russia arrived in heavy clothing, coats trimmed with fur, and cumbersome boots and shoes. Some collapsed from the heat, and the paper published a list of heatwave fatalities. Meanwhile, anchored in the bay, nearly 5,000 passengers waited in sweltering ship holds for Ellis Island to open after a Sunday closure. The paper described the “haggard faces of the immigrants and the almost physical collapse of many women and children” as they finally disembarked the hot holds of the ships. Search the news at your ancestor’s port of arrival to learn more about their experiences after arriving in America.

New-York Tribune 8.07.1906
  • Did Newspapers Publish Ship Schedules?

Yes! Newspapers can be used as a cross-check for immigrant departures and arrivals. Shipping companies endeavored to maintain a timetable, but sometimes unforeseeable circumstances led to delays. Newspapers reported on delays and when ships finally arrived at their destination.

Steamer Coptic Passenger List
  • What If you Can’t Find a Passenger List for Your Ancestor?

Sometimes you may be unable to find ship records for an immigrant ancestor, perhaps because the records no longer exist or were destroyed. One example is the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 which flooded the island and destroyed the building that housed immigration records. If you can’t find a passenger list, you can search newspapers. Sometimes papers published the names of arriving passengers. You might also find immigration details in obituaries or other published stories. On a few occasions (and for various reasons), immigrants arrived as a stowaway or traveled under an assumed name. Newspapers may provide the clue necessary to unlock that immigration mystery.  

To learn more about your ancestor’s immigration experience, explore Newspapers.com™ today!

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The Berlin Wall Goes Up: August 12, 1961

Sixty years ago this month, two tired, gray-haired women stood waving their handkerchiefs. Tears spilled down their cheeks as they strained to see a baby, lifted high in the air by its parents. They were the child’s grandmothers, separated from their family by a newly built wall. Just days earlier, on August 12, 1961, officials strung barbed wire through the heart of Berlin. The wire was then replaced with rows of concrete blocks, now nearly five feet tall and growing by the day. The Berlin Wall, built by the German Democratic Republic (GDR), would separate East Berlin from West Berlin. It remained standing for the next 28 years until the Cold War thawed and protestors tore it down in 1989.

The Logan Daily News – August 18, 1961

As WWII came to an end in 1945, leaders from the Soviet Union, the UK, and the United States gathered at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany. They decided to divide Germany into four zones. The Soviet Union occupied the eastern part, while the United States, Great Britain, and France combined their zones and occupied the western part of the country. As the capital city, Berlin would also be divided into similar sectors, even though it was located entirely in the Soviet part of the country.

In 1948, the Russians tried to starve the Allies out of Berlin by creating a blockade to prevent food and supplies from reaching the city. Rather than retreating, the Americans responded with the Berlin Airlift, which supplied food to the residents of Berlin. The Soviets called off the blockade the following year. Between 1949-1961, an estimated 2.5 million people left East Germany for the west. The steady stream included younger skilled workers and educated professionals. The exodus threatened the economic viability of East Germany, so to stem the tide, government officials decided to seal the border.

Stevens Point Journal – August 19, 1961

On August 12, 1961, East Berlin started building a wall. Residents living on Harzer Strasse (the road that delineated East from West Berlin) found themselves in a unique situation. Their front doors were in East Berlin, and their back doors opened to West Berlin. Shocked residents watched as workers arrived to nail their back door shut and then further sealed the exit by building brick walls inside the door frame. After rolling out barbed wire to create a temporary barrier, construction began immediately on a more permanent structure. Over time, the concrete block wall was further fortified with barbed wire on top, watchtowers, and electrified fences. Border guards were under orders to shoot anyone attempting to flee. Over the next several decades, there were many attempts to escape. Refugees tunneled under the wall, climbed over it, or even flew to West Germany in homemade hot-air balloons. About 5,000 were successful and made it to West Berlin. Another 5,000 were captured, and nearly 200 died trying to escape.

The Guardian – August 24, 1961

In October 1989, the chief of the Communist Party in East Germany was forced from power. He had rejected the growing chorus of calls to reunite East and West Germany saying, “Socialism and capitalism can no more be united than fire and water.” Just weeks after his departure, East Germany announced that they would relax restrictions, allowing citizens to apply for a visa to travel to West Berlin. Ecstatic crowds gathered at the wall to celebrate the news. Border guards, unsure what to do, opened the gates. A flood of people poured through while others climbed the wall or began to chip away at it with sledgehammers and tools. The Berlin Wall came down, both physically and figuratively. On October 3, 1990, East Germany and West Germany officially reunited.

If you would like to learn more about the Berlin Wall, search Newspapers.com™ today. You can also find more curated clippings on our Berlin Wall topic page.

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Discovery of the Rosetta Stone: July 15, 1799

On July 15, 1799, during Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, a French soldier spotted a black stone covered in inscriptions outside of the Egyptian city of Rosetta. Suspecting it could be an important cultural find, he brought it to the attention of his superiors. The Rosetta Stone, as it came to be known, contained an ancient decree written in three types of scripts. One of them was Egyptian hieroglyphics. Using the Rosetta Stone and comparing the hieroglyphics to the other writings, a French linguist was able to crack the hieroglyphic code. For the first time since hieroglyphics died out in the 4th century, scholars were able to decipher a lost language and the field of Egyptology was born.

The Maryland Gazette – 12.10.1801

In 1798, Napoleon Bonaparte led a French campaign through Egypt and Syria. His goal was to defend French trade interests and ultimately drive the British from India. He brought scholars along on the expedition to document the antiquities they discovered. While digging a foundation in Rosetta in July 1799, a young officer named Pierre-Francois-Xavier Bouchard discovered a stone covered in inscriptions. The broken stone was part of a larger tablet and contained an official message or decree about King Ptolemy (204-181 BC). The same message was written in hieroglyphs, Demotic, and Ancient Greek.

After Napoleon’s defeat, the Rosetta Stone fell into British hands. The Treaty of Alexandria required that all antiquities gathered during Napoleon’s campaign be turned over to the British, including the stone. It was loaded on a ship, arriving in England in February 1802. That summer, it was presented to King George III, then displayed at the British Museum. Scholars immediately began studying the inscriptions. A British physicist named Thomas Young was the first to realize that a group of hieroglyphics repeated several times on the stone wrote the sounds of the name Ptolemy.

The Morning Chronicle 8.9.1802

He continued his extensive study of the stone, as did other scholars, including French scholar Jean-Francois Champollion. Over the next two decades, the race to decipher the Rosetta Stone continued. In 1822, Champollion made the first of several breakthroughs, and in 1824, he realized that hieroglyphics combined phonetic and ideographic signs. Combined with his knowledge of the Coptic language, which is derived from ancient Egyptian, Champollion cracked the code and was able to read the hieroglyphics.

Champollion then transcribed the message on the Rosetta Stone. He is heralded as the founder of the study of Egyptology. The message on the stone was a decree celebrating the first anniversary of the coronation of King Ptolemy V. More importantly, scholars could now decipher hieroglyphics on other Egyptian antiquities.

The Rosetta Stone is still displayed in the British Museum today, where it has drawn curious crowds for nearly 220 years. To learn more about the Rosetta Stone, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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New Papers from Manatee County, Florida!

Our archives are expanding, and we’ve added new papers from Bradenton, Florida! The Bradenton Herald has nearly 1.5 million searchable pages with issues dating back to 1922.

In 1887, Bradentown became the county seat of Manatee County. A young lawyer living in a nearby county saw a business opportunity and moved to Bradentown where he began publishing Manatee County’s first enduring paper, The Manatee River Journal. At first, only local news was printed because the town did not often receive news from the outside world.

The population of Braidentown (as it was spelled back then) numbered some 123 residents. The paper brought progress to the town, and soon the government added daily mail service delivered by boat from Tampa. In 1922, The Braidentown Herald merged with The Manatee River Journal and became The Evening Herald. We have archives from The Manatee River Journal and Bradentown Herald dating back to 1889. In 1926, the paper’s name was changed to The Bradenton Herald.

Bradenton was named after Dr. Joseph Braden, whose fortress-like house became a refuge for settlers during the Seminole Wars. In the 1880s, a yellow fever epidemic broke out in Florida, and the nearby towns of Manatee and Palmetto were put under quarantine and cordoned off. Braidentown residents were able to keep the town open, and a steamer from Mobile delivered groceries and supplies every 10 days until the crisis passed.

Baseball is a beloved pastime in America, and Florida’s beautiful weather attracted major league teams to the area for Spring Training. Bradentown adopted the slogan ‘The Friendly City’ and rolled out the red carpet for teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, who trained in the city in the early 1920s.

Like other coastal Florida cities, Bradenton has experienced the power of mother nature. In 1946, the city took a direct hit from a storm known as Hurricane Six. The hurricane caused more than $5 million in crop losses. The paper also covered Florida’s deadliest tornado outbreak in 1998. Some 260 were injured and 42 died.

Over the decades, The Bradenton Herald has chronicled the history of this Gulf Coast city. If you have ancestors that lived in Bradenton, search for them in birth announcements, wedding announcements, and obituaries. You may also find them mentioned in the society pages, if they attended a family reunion, or were sick or injured. A column called ‘Personals’ chronicled who was in town visiting and when residents left on vacation.

Start searching The Bradenton Herald at Newspapers.com™ today.

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June 10, 1942: The Lidice Massacre

The village of Lidice was located in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (present-day Czech Republic) during WWII. In reprisal for the assassination of a Nazi official in the Spring of 1942, Adolf Hitler ordered the assassination of all men in Lidice, aged 16 and older. The women and children were taken to concentration camps or gassed, and the village of Lidice was destroyed.

The Age – June 15, 1942

In 1939, the area around Lidice came under Nazi control. Reinhard Heydrich, a high-ranking German official, was appointed Deputy Reich Protector of the area. Heydrich was one of the principal architects of the Holocaust. He was known for brutality, murder, and efforts to destroy any Nazi resistance. On May 27, 1942, Heydrich was being driven to his headquarters at Prague Castle when his car was attacked by two Czechoslovak resistance operatives. The operatives were trained in Great Britain and operated under the approval of the Czechoslovak government. Heydrich was wounded and died less than a week later.

The Shreveport Journal – June 6, 1942

German officials declared a state of emergency and established a curfew in Prague. They began a massive search for the attackers, promising that anyone involved, and their families, would be executed. Days later, when they failed to locate any conspirators, they decided to destroy the village of Lidice in reprisal. They chose Lidice because its residents were suspected of harboring members of the local resistance.

On June 10, 1942, German police and SS officials surrounded Lidice to block off any escape route. They rounded up 192 boys and men from Lidice and marched them to a farm on the edge of town, where they lined them up and shot them in groups.

Nazi officials separated the women and children and loaded the women onto rails cars for transport to concentration camps. Most went to Ravensbrück, where 60 died. A few of the children considered racially pure were handed over to SS families. The rest were likely killed in late June when Nazi official Adolph Eichman ordered the children to be gassed to death at Chelmno extermination camp.

In all, some 340 people from Lidice died and the town was destroyed. Nazi officials shelled the village, set it on fire, and plowed over the remains. To further erase the memory of Lidice, the name of the village was removed from all local municipal records. The massacre in Lidice angered people from around the world and garnered Allied support for the war. In the years following the war, those found complicit in the Lidice massacre were prosecuted. If you would like to learn more about the tragic story of Lidice, search Newspapers.com™ today.

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New Iconic UK News Brands Added!

We are pleased to announce that our international collection is expanding! We’ve added the Evening Standard and The Independent to our archives. With issues dating back to 1939, these new brands have chronicled a fascinating time in history.

The Evening Standard contains more than 2 million pages of history, with issues in our archive dating back to 1939. The Standard and Evening Standard have enjoyed an uninterrupted run from 1827 to the present day, except for a 26-day strike by machinery maintenance men in March and April 1955. The paper provides a unique perspective to world events, balancing coverage of international events with reports from correspondents placed all over Europe, America, and the Commonwealth. Founded in 1827, The Standard quickly developed a reputation for criticizing the government and found kinship with the common Londoner. The paper has chronicled important events fearlessly. In the days leading up to WWII, the paper’s political cartoonist, David Low, chronicled the rise of fascism with unflattering depictions of Hitler and Mussolini, which led to Germany and Italy banning the paper. The UK declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939, and that same month, The Standard reported that dozens of children fled London and sought refuge in Highclere Castle (made famous by the television series Downton Abbey). The castle became home to some 40 children during the war. They wore matching pink overalls and occupied the top floor.

The Standard also covered the Blitz, a series of massive German air attacks against London during the Battle of Britain. For 57 days, London was hit with heavy bombing that forever changed the cityscape. Some unexploded bombs were discovered long after the war ended. By the time the UK celebrated V-E Day in May 1945, nearly a half million people from the UK died during the war. The Evening Standard reported on efforts to rebuild post-war London. The paper is known as the “voice of London,” and in this archive, you will also find headlines about important world events, stories on the Royal Family, a high society gossip column called the Londoner’s Diary, fashion and women’s sections, and news relating to everyday Londoners.

The Independent was launched in 1986 with its mission to challenge and debate ahead of its time. It was a printed paper until 2016, when it changed to a fully digital news brand. Affectionately known as the Indy, its emphasis on clean, fresh design and beautiful photography helped to make it immediately distinctive. In addition to a strong aesthetic, The Independent has consistently innovated and inspired with its courageous, independent voice evident throughout its editorial – from politics, business, and climate stories to opinion on sports, social issues, and the arts.

Over its 35 years, The Independent has covered every issue of the day – from the devastating to the entertaining. On July 6, 2005, the UK was in the midst of celebrating its successful bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics. This triumph turned to terror when on the following day, a series of coordinated bombings on the London Underground rocked the city. The Independent’s coverage of the terrorist attacks included many first-hand accounts of the carnage and rescue efforts.

Readers of The Independent will also find more light-hearted stories, such as when the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council invited the public to name its new arctic explorer research vessel. A former BBC radio presenter suggested the name Boaty McBoatface and the campaign quickly went viral. Despite a majority voting for Boaty McBoatface, the vessel was eventually named after broadcaster and natural scientist, Sir David Attenborough.

To explore these new titles and other papers in England, search Newspapers.com™ today!

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The ABCs of Old Time Occupations

Have you come across an occupation in a census record that you’ve never heard of before? Many of our ancestors held jobs that are rare or no longer exist today. We’ve scoured our archives to learn more about those jobs and what our ancestors did to earn a living. Here are a few of the occupations we found:

AArtificial Flower Maker: This intricate job required long hours and a lot of skill. The detailed artificial flowers embellished bonnets, dresses, and hats.


BBath Attendant: In the early 20th century, school children in cities like New York and Chicago were bathed at school. Often the children came from tenements with no access to washing facilities. This 1909 article invited women to apply for the position and described the qualifications needed to become a bath attendant.

CCorset Factory Worker: Factories became common during the Industrial Revolution. In this 1910 help wanted ad, a corset factory was hiring women between the ages of 16-40 to work in the factory.


DDaguerreotypist: A daguerreotypist was an early photographer who used a now-obsolete process to create images on a silvered copper surface. In this 1846 article, a traveling daguerreotypist offered to create miniature likenesses in Joliet, Illinois.

EEsquire: Today the term esquire describes a lawyer, but that wasn’t always the case. If your 19th-century ancestor was an esquire, it meant that he held a title of office, such as a lawyer, sheriff, justice of the peace, etc.


FFellmongers: A fellmonger is a person who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for making leather.


GGlazier: A glazier cut, installed, and removed glass in windows, display cases, and more.

HHokey-Pokey Man: The Hokey-Pokey man was a vendor with a pushcart that sold cheap, low-quality ice cream in the late 1800s through early 1900s. The Hokey-Pokey man was popular with children in tenement neighborhoods. In this 1910 article, a San Francisco Hokey-Pokey man found out he would likely inherit a fortune.

IIce Cutter: Before refrigeration was invented, ice cutters went to lakes and rivers during the winter and cut out blocks of ice for use in the summer. Workers transported ice to ice houses where it was kept cold with straw or sawdust. It would stay frozen for many months.

JJapanner: Japanned leather was a process to coat leather with a Japanese varnish and then dry it on a stove, producing a smooth, shiny surface like patent leather.


KKnocker-Upper: A knocker-upper was the equivalent of a human alarm clock. They roamed the streets with a tall wand used to tap on windows to awaken workers in the morning.


LLeech Collector: Leech collectors, often women, gathered leeches for medicinal use. Doctors believed that bloodletting could cure disease, so leeches were placed on patients to suck infected blood out. The practice was especially popular in Europe. 


MMillwright: A millwright was responsible for designing, installing, maintaining, and repairing mill machinery. This 1902 article reported on a labor dispute when millwrights demanded an eight-hour workday, but employers wanted ten.


NNeedle-Pointer: A needle pointer was a person who filed the points of needles. According to this 1822 article, breathing in steel dust caused health problems for needle-pointers, forcing most to end their careers by the age of 35.

OOrdinary Keeper: An Ordinary Keeper was an innkeeper. The terms “ordinary” and “tavern” used to be used interchangeably. Early records from Maine cautioned Ordinary Keepers about serving too much liquor.


PPinsetter: Bowling became popular in the 20th century and before automated pinsetters were invented, workers handset the bowling pins each time they were knocked down. This 1943 article describes how a pinsetter might set 132 games a night and be paid 9 cents a game.


QQuarrier: A quarrier was a quarry worker.


RRag Man: A rag man walked the streets with a cart, collecting old rags and other discarded items. He then brought them to a junk shop where they were resold. This 1894 article describes the job of a rag men and gives a detailed description of a junk shop.


SSaddler: A saddler was in charge of making, repairing, and selling saddles. This 1872 article describes what a saddler’s shop might have looked like.


TTeamster: A teamster drove a team of oxen, horses, or mules, pulling a wagon. A man who drove a team of oxen was called a bullwhacker. Teamsters transported cargo and supplies. This 1875 article described the duties of a teamster.


UUptwister: An uptwister was a textile industry worker that was in charge of winding yarn onto a revolving spindle.


VVitner: A vitner is a wine merchant. This 1859 article talks about the South Carolina grape industry and the oldest vitner in the South.


WWhitesmith: A whitesmith works with metals like tin, copper, and brass.



XXylographer: A xylographer is a person who makes engravings on wood, especially for printing.


YYeoman: A yeoman was a farmer that owned his land.


ZZincographer: A zincographer worked in the printing industry etching images on zinc plates. The line drawings used in newspapers before photography (like this 1893 example), were created by zincographers.


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