Labour Day Activity

We thought it would be fun to share a list of professions that our elderly loved ones, and those in our care, can remember and relate to (or even possibly worked in!). After some research, we found that many of these professions no longer exist. This may be due to the advancement in technology or an industry that is no longer in use.


Here is a list we found of "Vanishing Professions". Read the description and/or the title to your loved one and see if they can recall the type of profession it is! It may also help if you upload or share images of each profession to assist in their recall. They may even begin to share some stories of their past that relate to one or more of the professions.





Vanishing Professions


  • Switchboard Operator: Telephone assistant to help callers reach the person they are calling.

  • Milkman: Very rare these days, the milkman sold or delivered milk door to door in glass bottles.

  • Wet Nurse: Wet nurses were hired when the mother of a baby was unable or chose not to nurse the child herself.

  • Lector: A person who reads aloud to others; newspapers or scripture passages in a Church service.

  • Seamstress: A woman who made her living by sewing clothes for others.

  • Compositors: A compositor or a 'type setter' was the person that set the written material into type.

  • Carriage drivers: Before cars, it was the main form of transportation in big cities. They were a lot like today's taxi drivers.

  • Radio Actors: Very popular before television. Musicals and dramas were played over the wireless to the delight of many.

  • Elevator operators: Men in charge of the safety of the elevator the passengers.

  • Pinsetters: In the early 1900s, pinsetters were young boys that would reset the pins in the bowling alleys for very low wages.

  • Governess: A woman employed to teach children in a private household.

  • Lamplighters: Major cities of the world had hundreds of lighting men. They had to carry a ladder with them to reach the lamps.

  • Footmen: A man employed as a servant to wait on tables, attend the door and run errands.

  • Coal stokers: A dangerous and challenging job. The boiler room on large ships needed stokers to get going. (The Titanic had men stoking the coal around the clock to keep it in motion).

  • Shoeshiner: This occupation involved polishing shoes with shoe polish. It was traditionally the role of a male child or 'shoeshine boy'.

  • Gas/Petrol Station attendants: People hired to attend customers at gas stations, their jobs included: filling up your car, wiping your windshield, checking oil, checking transmission and cranking up your car to get it started if necessary.

  • Chimney Sweeps: This age-old profession was sure to cover the person in soot and ash by the end of the day. In Europe, at the turn of the century, people used children as chimney sweeps because they were small enough to fit inside the tiny chimneys. Chimney sweeps still exist however the profession is now carried out in a much safer way than in the past.



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