Categories History

Historic Images That Will Make Your Job Seem Not So Bad

If you were not born rich or famous, you are probably working a job. Maybe you love it – like it – or hate it. If you are in the first group, congratulations.

If not, we get it! Bad bosses, long hours, low pay, and a lack of appreciation are often the top reasons we hate our jobs. 

But what if we took a moment to go back in time. To a time where kids worked in coal mines, dads were gone for months, and work was hard manual labor. 

These images from the past may be what you need to realize that jobs of today may not be as bad as we think. It is also a reminder that we should all be grateful for the labor laws that are meant to prevent these types of working conditions.

Putting Bottles Into An Annealing Oven – 1908

man putting bottles into annealing oven
National Child Labor Committee by Lewis Hine

Putting Bottles into the Annealing Oven. An Indianapolis Glass Works, 1 A.M. Location: Indianapolis, Indiana.

Telephone Line Worker – 1915

1915 southern bell telephone worker on telephone pole
Herald-Journal Willis Collection by Alfred Willis

Telephone repairman on pole with an open automobile in foreground.

Working in a Rock Quarry – 1935

workers in a rock quarry in 1935
Farm Security Administration by Ben Shahn

Workers in a rock quarry breaking rocks for Cumberland Homesteads in Crossville, Tennessee.  

Tree Cutting

tree cutters at work
National Park Service

While this image was taken at a tree cutting competition, this was the norm for the day on how trees were cut down. Nothing but axes and homemade tools were used to do the work, no matter how big the tree. 

Workers Completing Charge On Open Heat Furnace

workers adding charge to furnace
Farm Security Administration by Alfred Palmer

Workers at Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corporation in Breckenridge, Pennsylvania in the 1940s. Workers are completing the charge to an open hearth furnace. 

Coal Miners Waiting For Cage – 1911

coal miners waiting for cage
National Child Labor Committee by Lewis Hine

At the close of the day. Waiting for the cage to go up. The cage is entirely open on two sides and not very well protected on other two, and is usually crowded like this. Small boy in front is Jo Pume, a Nipper, 163 Pine Street. Shaft #6, Pennsylvania Coal Co. Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Picking Slate From Coal – 1946

men picking slate from coal rubble
National Archives by Russell Lee

Picking slate from coal being conveyed to breaker plant at The St. Clair Coal Company in Pennsylvania.

Bowling Pin Setters – 1910

bowling pin setup in 1910
National Child Labor Committee by Lewis Hine

It is 1:00 A.M and pin boys are working in Subway Bowling Alleys at 65 South St. in Brooklyn, N.Y. Three smaller boys were kept out of the photo by boss. This one makes us happy we have child labor laws. 

Sandhog Crew Working In Underground Tunnel – 1907

sandhog crew tightening bolts on west river tunnel
James Forgie Papers

Laborers who worked underground and did work like drilling, blasting, and excavating were “sandhogs”. This image reflects a team of workers tightening bolts underground on the West River Tunnel South.

Gandy Dancer Railroad Workers -1917

gandy workers on the railroad

A railroad section gang – including common workers sometimes called gandy dancers – responsible for maintenance of a particular section of railway. One man is holding a bar, while others are using rail tongs to position a rail. 

Today’s Skilled Tradespeople Are Satisfied In Their Careers

tools hanging on garage wall

Unlike the careers above, today’s skilled workers have a 90% satisfaction rate with their jobs. See more survey results! 

No Degree? No Problem! These High-Paying Jobs Do Not Require One.

If college is not your thing, that is A-OK! There are plenty of jobs where you can make a great living, no degree required. View the best paying-no degree jobs

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