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Thursday, September 25, 2014

"Hello Girls" .... Women's Employment and Service via the Telephone

Women's employment opportunities were often bleak historically.  If they were fortunate enough to marry into higher ranking social circles, they were cared for by their husbands, much as their fathers did prior.  But what about those who were not socially elevated on that ladder?  Or the ones who were widowed and orphaned?  One area of employment became their Lot in factories. Often within sewing factories were hundreds of women sweated their labor for 12 hours a day.

Then came the invention of the Telephone.  Though in it's origin, telephone operators were male, this first pictures depicts two women, Emma and Stella Nutt, working alongside boys and men in Boston.  It was found out over time, the males were not as kind, nor dependable.  They were brusk which led to many complaints from people who relied on them to transfer their calls to the appropriate parties.
The birth of the "Hello Girl's". Women had pleasant voices that customers, most of whom were men, incidentally, and the kinder voice is what they liked. Downside, there is always a downside to women's employment,  because society did not treat women equally, they could be paid less and supervised more strictly than men. Because women were generally discriminated against, operators' wages were low. Operators seldom got the respect they deserved,  and typically earned about $7 per week -- a small salary even in 1900.

But it did not take long for their employment to look like this:

 Still, the "Hello Girls"  were the heart of the telephone system. Not only did she watched over a switchboard containing up to 200 phone lines, but she was also the town's information source.  Though her main job was to plug callers' phone lines into the phone lines of the people they wanted to speak to, she would also inform customers of election results, streetcar breakdowns, storms, train arrivals, and much more.

 Telephones graced many homes:
And Rural areas:
But a woman's career was not limited to the switchboard. WWI changed that.  This next picture is that of the Signal Corps "Regimental".  After the training period, the first detachment of women, in charge of Chief Grace Banker, departed New York City early in March 1918. One of their jobs? To connect soldiers in the front-lines to the General command.
Then there is WWII.  Women wearing their gas masks and still doing their job:
Now, who remembers this lovely woman?
And once I put this adorable picture up as a Facebook Profile, and one of my son's thought it was me LOL ... sigh ... though probably appropriately depicted hahaha
So, as you reach for your cell phone, take a moment to see where you have come too in this era of phone usage.  Have a marvelous day, and remember to smile!

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1 comment:

  1. Biggest mistake I ever made was not staying an operator back in 1978.