July 22, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

2010s or 1920s – In the World of Work, the Only Constant is Change

2 min read
1920 jobs

Do you ever like to think about how you might have fitted into the historical eras that fascinate you? We take so much of our modern world for granted, it can be a real thought experiment to ponder the little details of day-to-day life that we would experience differently back then.

The 1920s is a good example of an era that was probably very different to live in, compared to our mental image of it. Maybe you associate that period with The Great Gatsby, silk shirts, cocktail parties and sophisticated witticisms. Or perhaps you picture yourself in Europe, stirring up trouble with the Surrealists and living the life of a Bohemian.

Well, depending on your profession, life could be unrecognizable from these familiar images. As the US market built up to its big collapse, enormous disparities in wealth distribution and less social care meant that life could be very tough at the bottom – however glamorous it was for those at the top. The era that gave us the first real movie stars, complete with carefully mythologized personal lives, also saw farm laborers exploited in an unfavorable agricultural economy.

One particular profession that was on its way out, and which clearly marks the 1920s as worlds away from today’s culture, was that of the knocker-upper. Where today we rely on alarm clocks or smartphones to stir us in the mornings, back then industrial communities would rely on a single individual with a big stick to go around tapping on windows when it was time to rise. Sound like the kind of job you could manage?

You can figure out just where you might have fitted into this economy with a look at this playful new infographic from OnStride Financial. The past may be a foreign country, but you’ll still need to pay your way!