9 Jobs You Might Have Recruited For 200 Years Ago, But Have Now Disappeared

September 28, 2016

Imagine writing a job description for a chimney sweep.

“Must not mind getting more than a little dirty and the possibility of getting stuck…in a chimney.”

Well, if you were living 200 years ago, that’s the kind of role you might be recruiting for.

We recently combed through the latest master jobs list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is updated every decade or so and includes all job titles held by the majority of working Americans. And, we took a gander at the list from 1850—the first year the Census Department collected data to see how Americans made a living.

As you might have guessed, we made some interesting job discoveries. Here are just some of the roles you could have recruited for back in the day:

1. Dairymen and milkmen

Well this one's pretty staight forward - these workers deliver milk in bottles and cartons to people’s homes. This is what it actually looked like:

2. Ice dealers

We love ice. Puppies love ice. And before we had the wonders of electricy, people relied on ice dealers to deliver huge blocks of ice, ice baby.

3. Chimney sweeps

As mentioned, a worker who inspects and cleans chimneys from ash and soot…and dance in Mary Poppins (above).

4. Hemp dressers

Also known as hacklers, these were workers who separated the coarse parts of the hemp with a hackle, or a toothed instrument (as seen below). Fun.

5. Drovers

Someone who drives cattle or sheep.

But actually…

6. Match makers

Why can’t we all get paid for setting up our friends, ey? These jobs entail matching people up for marriage.

7. Occultists

These people study magic, alchemy, extra-sensory perception, astrology, spiritualism, religion and divination. Awesome.

8. Lapidaries

An artisan who collects precious stones, gemstones and minerals and cuts, grinds and polishes them into decorative items, such as cabochons and engraved gems.

9. Shoe peg makers

Using pegged constructions, these people made shoes the traditional way. It actually looked like this (with real person):

What jobs look like today

Aside from perusing through jobs that don’t exist, we also took a look at the most recent BLS master jobs list, which they are updating and will officially publish in Spring 2017.

To save you some time, here’s a breakdown of the findings:

  • As expected, most of the additions are in the tech and healthcare industries. Most added jobs, like data scientists and project managers, won’t be surprising to the corporate world, but they’re still relatively unknown job titles to the government unless working Americans tell them otherwise.
  • This year, the easily predicted additions are as followed: database integration architects and software quality assurance analysts. In the medical field, surgical assistants and medical dosimetrists have been added. In the business world, financial risk specialists are the latest additions, likely due to an increase in hires after the financial crisis.
  • There are some surprise additions too, like disc jockeys, entertainers and performers (maybe because of the rise of YouTube stars since 2010?) and crematory operators as more Americans are choosing cremation over traditional burials.
  • Jobs that are becoming obsolete today are as followed: motion picture projectionists, meter readers and typists.
  • Some occupations are being combined with others, like writers and authors are now in the same group with journalists.
  • Some jobs have gone through title changes, likely resulting from the digital age adding new responsibilities to workers’ existing duties. For instance, those once called computer operators are now office and administrative support workers. And librarians are now also media collections specialists. As for court reporters, they’re also simultaneous captioners.
  • So far, the revised list includes 869 occupations, an increase of 29 job titles from 2010, according to Theresa Cosca, a lead economist at the BLS.

If you take a look at the revised master jobs list, most occupations aren’t entirely new, but rather, changes in titles or “re-branding” as we like to call it in the social media culture phenomenon era. Those called showmen in the 1850s are entertainers and performers to us today. Odds are, popular job titles will continue changing as the economic wheels continue to turn. Keep this in mind the next time you’re searching for a candidate as they might be using a job title different than what you’d assume.

*Image from Mary Poppins

To receive blog posts like this one straight in your inbox, subscribe to the blog newsletter.

Topics