Yo this is a story all about how Albany’s 1915 census got fliiped-turned upside down

I think there’s a few interesting points to take away from the graphic and data behind occupations in Albany in 1915. There’s a few jobs that no loner exist or are called different names now, plus a surprising difference in the number of women and men who worked (or at the very least, were listed as working) at the time. I purposely chose “gendered” colors for the bar graph, but I think the story behind that has to go in a separate part of the final post. But there are a few interesting stories behind the data itself.
I’m assuming no one here really knows what a “teamster” is (or maybe you do, being history buffs and all). Today we’d use the plebeian term “truck driver.” But it’s hard to imagine an 18-wheeler peeling down the dirt roads of Albany a hundred years ago; a little more research shows that these were the men who delivered goods to stores, usually on an animal-driven vehicle. A whopping 12 men in the city of Albany were blessed with sitting behind the back-end of an ox or horse for a living, twice the number of the next most popular listed job in the city. But I’m sure they weren’t only delivering groceries to the whopping 2 grocers in Albany at the time; out of 64 employed males at the time, about 5 of them weren’t directly related to selling or handling delivered goods (and that’s taking a good guess at what some of these other jobs are). So I’m sure these 12 men were nice and busy staring at these animals’ backsides all day as they delivered books, ice, and masonry tools.
Of course, when you first look at the graph the first thing you probably notice is the big pink bar shooting up highest. With only a dozen less listed workers than men, more than half of the women listed as employed are employed in “Housework.” What sort of housework? Not homeschooling, as school teachers are listed in another category, nor seamstressing, as dress and shirtmakers are categories unto themselves. Perhaps, even though it was work that was expected of them as women, house work within their own homes was considered an occupation? No, I think that since it was listed as an occupation, it was something that they were paid for, and not something they did in their own homes. Or rather, it wasn’t something they were acknowledged for doing in their own homes. They just had to come home from cleaning someone else’s home all day, and then clean their own.
There are some jobs which are surprisingly gendered (as there is not one single listed occupation that has both men and women working in it) occupations, ones that might expect from the other sex. The only listed gardener in the census is a male, while the only person in charge of manufacturing boxes in all of Albany is a woman (at least, according to the census). Weren’t they afraid that her wandering uterus would make her unable to deal with such a heavy workload?
All in all, I think the most important and interesting piece of information to take away from the graphic is that there were an almost-equal amount of men and women listed as being employed in Albany a hundred years ago, when we usually imagine that the men went out to make the money for the family while the women sat at home and either tended to their children or made sure the house was comfortable for their husbands, fathers, and brothers to come home to.

One thought on “Yo this is a story all about how Albany’s 1915 census got fliiped-turned upside down

  • April 18, 2016 at 6:29 PM

    Two light corrections: The population of Albany in 1910 is ~95,000, so your slice of ~1200 people is a sample of the whole city, not the whole city itself–there were almost certainly more than 2 grocers/more than 30 teamsters in the city. Your data is a representative sample, rather than the whole thing. Re: housework, those women are likely working without pay for their own families in their own homes–what we would now call stay at home parents.

    The gender divide is really interesting even taking the sample issue into account. You may want to double check your filter, though–by my counting, there’s categories like horse dealer, painter, song writer, and ironworker that have both male and female workers. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t the huge gender gap that you point out, but you may have some kumquats to deal with.

    On your place of birth map, why CNTD(Age) and not SUM(Number of Records)? Age is going to exclude any people who didn’t have an age recorded.

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