Recent developments in my professional life have me pondering how I would’ve survived in the 1900’s. I seek a career that fills both my bank account and my artistic spirit – two goals not easily achieved simultaneously.  As I grow more and more picky about job choices, I consider my female ancestral relations. These women were employed as housekeepers, seamstresses, office clerks, and factory workers.

I’ve made mention in prior posts that history was never my favorite subject during my years of schooling.  It  just wasn’t that interesting to me – all the dates to memorize, names to know, and facts to remember.  It all seemed so impersonal to me.  It’s only since I started along the genealogy path that I wish I knew more about not only American history but other nations as well.  I wish I knew what the socio-economic state was in Philadelphia in 1899 or understood why my ancestors emigrated from Ireland before the famine.  What prompted their decisions and choices?  I’m intrigued about the resilient women in my history but also all the others who experienced struggle, grief, and poverty, whose names are known only to their descendants.

My great-great grandmother, Elizabeth, had three children to provide for at the turn of the 20th century after her husband died young.  The widowed Irishwoman owned the homes she lived in and worked as a seamstress in 1900 and housekeeper in 1910.  I can only imagine that she must have dealt with incredible challenges to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on her children’s backs.  It’s her story I long to tell.  Her experiences I yearn to know more about.  She’s a mystery to me, and I’m excited to delve into her history.

The strength, determination, and perseverance of my female ancestors puts my circumstance into much clearer perspective. So, when I complain about not finding an “ideal” job or missing a day of fun with my visiting family members, I think about the women who came before me and the difficult times they lived through.


Happy searching!