I have no idea how I came across this browsing the Internet, but I did. And it’s great. An article from a 19th-century women’s magazine called “The Home-Maker” on ways to earn some extra dough.
An excerpt: “[W]here women have given their attention to the buying and selling of real estate, they have proved themselves careful speculators. If women do not reason as well as men they seem to have intuition, or some other faculty, which serves them instead.”
Yes, it’s old-fashioned in its language, but there’s also a delightfully independent spirit in the piece. It’s about women who take the bull by the horns and fend for themselves, rather than wait for someone else to come along and save them. Mary J. Ashton, the author, was no doubt a 19th-century rockstar.
Here’s some more:
Women are beginning to depend on themselves, and many are doing business, as a means of self-support. The women all over the country are asking and answering the question, What can we do best to earn money?
One woman in a large city, who had a sick husband, resolved to do something to support her family. She leased a large block and rented out unfurnished rooms for more than the rent she paid for the whole block, collecting the dues herself, and had quite an income left. An old lady calling herself Grandma Patch, who lived near a young ladies’ school, did the darning, mending and repairing for the girls, and received a good compensation and was indispensable to them. A Mrs. W—, who had the gift of being a good cook, supplied a dozen families with warm rolls, in a village where there was no bakery, and others can do the same, even where there are bakeries, as most people prefer home-made cooking. Another woman makes a specialty of doughnuts and supplies a Woman’s Exchange.
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In many of the town and cities of the West, American women who have some property in their own right, buy real estate as a business investment, and it is conceded by business-men that where women have given their attention to the buying and selling of real estate, they have proved themselves careful speculators. If women do not reason as well as men they seem to have intuition, or some other faculty, which serves them instead.
In California many women own nurseries, fruit-farms, vegetable and flower-gardens. Three women in Kansas bought four hundred and eighty acres of railroad land, paying five dollars per acre. After farming successfully five years, they sold it for sixteen and two-third dollars per acre, and realized a profit of five thousand six hundred dollars.
A few years ago four teachers formed themselves into a company and purchased one hundred acres of land near Fresno, California, for the purpose of raising fruit. Only two continued teaching, while the others superintended the hired men and assisted on the ranch, planting vines, picking, packing and shipping fruit. They now have a very large business, shipping quantities of fine raisins every year.
One woman, whose kind husband died ten years ago, had been supported in comfort while he lived so that she did not have to think where the money would come from for the winter’s coal, or house-rent. She had not saved anything for a rainy day, and she found herself with four little girls to support. She was lady-like and had been taught to do well whatever she did. She went among her acquaintances and did fine ironing for many years. She excelled in some kinds of cooking, making coffee, preparing salads, oysters, bread for sandwiches, and cutting meats; therefore she soon had plenty of calls to not only assist, but to take charge of menus for tea parties, lunches and weddings; soon the different churches engaged her services to assist at their sociables to make coffee, etc., and cut the cake and superintend generally. In these ways she has been enabled to earn a good living. Another woman who was left a widow, was a first-class cake baker, and was in great demand for parties and weddings, as no one could excel her in baking or cutting cake.
One young lady who was at a boarding-school and had a limited supply of “pin money” and wished to replenish her purse, had the moral courage to put a card on her door that read: “Shoe buttons sewed on at 10 cent a doz. Darning and repairing done neatly, at reasonable rates.” I need not say she had all she could fine time to do.
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It is said that the last census gave the number as fifteen thousand women that made their living by canning fruit and vegetables.
About two years ago a Miss Cassey of Oberlin, Ohio, got her uncle to make a plating machine to plate silver ware with. She says it cost nine dollars, and did the work well. At the time she wrote the letter she had worked twenty-two days and cleared $94.00. Her address at that time was Miss M. F. Cassey, Oberlin, Ohio. She offered to give full directions to any one for making and using the machine to plate gold or silver, that wuold send her specimens of stone, shells, old coins etc. for her collection.
Miss Cassey just warms my heart. I hope her stone, shell, and old coin collections really took off after the publication of this article.