Old Family Photos of Women in the Workforce

By Maureen A. Taylor

Jeanine Black saw the post How to Learn About Working Women in Old Photos and sent me two images of women in her family. It’s a fitting end to Women’s History Month.

In about 1909, her 15-year-old paternal grandmother, Louse (first on the left) worked in a Brockton, Mass., shoe factory. Louise’s mother, Louise, is the first woman on the right. The family immigrated from Canada to Brockton in 1895 once Louise’s husband found a job.

Her other image is more recent.

It depicts her maternal grandmother, Augusta (second from right, first woman looking at the camera). It was taken in 1962 in Gloucester, Mass., where she worked in the garment industry. Jeanine even has her International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union membership card!

Augusta immigrated from Madeira, Portugal, at 18. Decorative handwork on fabric is well-known in Portugal and it looks like she found a job doing similar work at Vita Creations.

These photos not only document the working lives of these two women, they provide Jeanine with information she didn’t have. Her paternal grandmother died before Jeanine was born. Augusta didn’t talk about her time in the factory. It was only when Jeanine found that color photo and membership card that she learned more about her grandmother’s life.

While it’s wonderful to find photographs of men and women working, they aren’t as common as other types of paper documentation about employment. In Jeanine’s case it was a membership card, but it could be a work badge, a pass, a pay stub or an account book.

What have you found?

Identify your old mystery family photos with these guides by Maureen A. Taylor:

  • Family Photo Detective: Learn How to Find Genealogy Clues in Old Photos and Solve Family Photo Mysteries
  • Fashionable Folks: Bonnets and Hats 1840-1900
  • Finding the Civil War in Your Family Album
  • Hairstyles 1840-1900
  • Photo-Organizing Practices
  • Preserving Your Family Photographs
  • Searching for Family History Photos: How to Get Them Now
  • Save

    Get Your Free Essential Genealogy Research Forms

    Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter and receive 10 research forms as a special thank you!
    • Hidden
    • Hidden
    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.