Years ago, most women didn’t work. In fact, the women who taught school were considered to be of reduced circumstances. The same was thought of women who had to turn their homes into a boarding house. Of course, we all know that times have greatly changed now. Most women work, and many in jobs that require high levels of education, as well as women in oil field jobs and other jobs that used to be considered for men only, and even in combat. Nevertheless, in the 1800s and even in the early 1900s, women working was not so common.
That said, there were a few forward thinking people who saw the future in a way that others didn’t. My great grandparents, Carl and Henriette Schumacher were two of those forward thinking people. They wanted to make sure that their children got a good education, including the girls. Because their parents felt that way, all of their girls got the kind of education they had, and if they needed to, the girls could take care of themselves as well as their brothers could.
My Great Aunt Mina, felt like she and her younger sisters needed to be able to do all of the clerical work that any office could need to have done. For that reason, they were able to get jobs that in many ways were better than some men could get…not that they were paid better than the men in most cases, but these girls were not simply left in the secretarial pool with other women who couldn’t run equipment that was more complicateed than a typewriter. The Schumacher girls were better at using much of the machines than their male counterparts, and were often called to train the men. I guess when you think about it, the training that my great aunts got was so far ahead of their time that people probably thought their parents were crazy.
I can’t say that my great aunts were never homemakers, just that if they needed to, they could easily support themselves. Their training did help them out in the years that they were taking care of their parents. They needed to have a job to have enough money to take care of them in the way they needed. While Mina was married, Bertha and Elsa didn’t get married until after her parents passed away. Even then, they had to take care of themselves for a while before they met and married their husbands. Then, their husbands didn’t live for very many years, so the girls had to take care of themselves again. I guess this proves that even back then, women needed to have an education that would allow them to take care of themselves if they ever have to.