Occupations for Women

Occupations for Women
Chapters XXII-XL

With the doubt of a woman’s capabilities, which still troubles some masculine minds, the firm felt they must have a man in charge of the work. It gives one a bit of malicious pleasure to be able to say that Miss Rose’s masculine successor is said not to have been a success.





HEN I was a girl,” our noble lamented Lucy Stone once said, “I seemed to be shut out of everything I wanted to do. I might teach school—that is, if I would keep as good order and teach as well as a man, for considerable less money; I might go out dressmaking or tailoring, or trim bonnets, or I might work in a factory, or go out to domestic service; there the mights ended and the might nots began. A few years ago when my daughter left Boston University with her degree of B. A., she might do what she chose; all the professions were open to her; she could enter into any line of business.”

Mrs. Stone did not say—although she might have done so with absolute truth—that it was because she, and others like her, had been persistent and courageous and true that the way had been made possible not only for her own daughter but for thousands of other daughters. Every woman in the world should say devoutly, “God bless her for the brave work she did!”

To-day the young woman pauses to consider which of the many open roads she shall take. It has ceased to be a matter of obligation with her; it is largely a question of choice.

One of the first openings that came to women outside of the circumscribed list which was given by Mrs. Stone, was that of tending in stores. This opening was made at the time of the civil war when so many men went into the army, leaving occupations of every kind, that women must needs do the work. Those of you who have made a study of history from its philosophical, rather than its statistical side, understand that when an advanced step is made it is never retraced. There is no such thing as going back. So when in the history of the world’s progress you read of the advancement made by women, you take the fact gladly 143 because it is something done for all time. The women who have lived and worked any part of the time for the past thirty years have felt that they were living and working in one of the most important epochs in the history of the civilized world. A young girl, alive and alert as the girl of to-day is, said not long ago: “I am so glad that it has been given me to live just now. I come to all the good things of life as a heritage and yet not so late but that I catch the echoes of the struggle for their possession and kiss the hands of the women who have gained them for me.”

And she was right. Being a girl of average ability and firm principle, it is a good time in which to live. The chances for success are good and opportunity is better than it ever has been.

Take mercantile life, for instance: I have often heard girls say that it was all nonsense to expect any preferment there; that only the men get advanced; and that only men become the head of the house. Now, there is no reason why a woman should not conduct a mercantile business if she wishes and if she has the capital. Probably one reason why women do not oftener do this, is because when they have money they prefer to invest it in some manner which shall bring them a steady income without exertion of their own. They let the money do the earning and they take the result. Another reason is, that when girls take a position, they do not, as boys do, take it with the idea of making it a life-work. It is a temporary matter—something to bridge over the time of waiting between leaving school and settling down into homes of their own. With a boy, it is serious business; with the girl it is a makeshift. The success of any one in any line of work depends upon the spirit in which she takes it up. A young girl had tried for a long time for a position in one of the leading dry goods shops in Boston. Her persistency was rewarded by a trial. She was put at the handkerchief counter during a bargain sale. The very first morning she was there a gentleman came by and stopped at the handkerchief counter, looking carelessly at the goods and at the prices which were marked on each box. She did not wait for him to ask for anything special, but she immediately called his attention to some handkerchiefs which were really low priced when one considered their fine quality. He did not seem inclined to buy, but she was so interested to make the sale and talked so intelligently about them, that he took half a dozen of the handkerchiefs. When she was paid her salary at the end of the week, she received a sum much in advance of that which had been agreed upon. She took it at once to the head of her department, thinking there must have been some mistake; but she was assured that it was all right.

“Do you remember selling half a dozen handkerchiefs to one gentleman the first morning you were here?” he inquired.

“Why, yes, I remember,” she replied; “but what has that to do with it?”


“Simply this—that was the head of the firm; and he was so pleased that he asked about you and said that any girl who could sell his own goods to a proprietor was worth a good salary and a steady place. So he ordered you put in the pay roll at the wages I have just given you, with the promise of a rise as soon as it was possible.”

A thing like this isn’t likely to happen every day, perhaps; nor even once in a lifetime; but of one thing you may rest quite assured, my dear girls who are reading this—simple eye service is noted more frequently than you imagine, and so is the honest, hearty rendering of your duty.

Not long since a prominent business man in Boston said to me when we were talking over the reason why so few young men really succeed, some things that will bear repetition for the girls who think seriously of a business life. “The boys”—and he might have said, the girls too—“in the store whose watches are always on time at the dinner or closing hour are the ones who will not advance in business; while those who are asking for more to do, instead of making apologies for work not finished, are those who find room at the top of the ladder and who do not complain of the crowd at the foot.”

Possibly another reason why women do not oftener attain a higher position in mercantile life is, because they do not learn the business as a man does. When a girl seeks a position in a store she expects a living salary at once; the immediate need of money is the force which impels her to work; she must be her own bread-winner. A boy expects to give a certain time to learning the detail of business, and takes a place at first with very small remuneration, working his way to the more profitable position.

In the city stores the rules governing the duties of the various employes are arbitrary. And they are strictly enforced. The law has taken the matter of child labor into its protecting hand, so that now, no boy or girl under fourteen may be permanently employed in any establishment. That, then, sets the date when the girls may begin to work. The cash girls in the large stores are, as a rule, fourteen and fifteen years of age; their duty is to run on errands, carry bundles from counter to counter for customers, and be at the beck and call of everybody else in the store. In the days before money was sent to the desk by machinery, the girls had to carry it and bring back change and parcel. But even with this duty taken from them in so many stores, the cash girls still find enough to do, and do not have many idle moments. They have to be at their post, ready to begin work when the store is opened. As most of the stores open at half-past eight o’clock, this means being there certainly at quarter-past eight. They must report to their superintendent, put away their street garments, and be at their places in front of the counters at the unlocking of the doors. The time of their arrival is marked against their names and if they are late they are fined a small sum. In some 146 stores they are allowed to work out their fine by shortening their dinner hour as many minutes as they are late, but in others this chance is not given them, and the fine must stand. All day long they are on their feet, flying about here and there, and nobody is gladder when the big gong gives the signal to lock the door at half-past five than are these young girls. For these long hours and all their work, they receive $2.50 or at most, $3.00 per week, and this is oftentimes decreased by the fines. If a cash girl proves herself bright, clever and capable, she may look forward to being advanced into a position as stock girl or salesgirl, or given a place in the mail order department. The stock girl, as she is called, has the charge of the stock for a certain counter; she must see that this counter is kept well supplied and the goods in order; she must be watchful, quick, and have a pride in the attractive appearance of her goods. Her hours are the same as all the rest, and she has from $5.00 to $6.00 a week.


customers at a shop counter, with saleswomen in attendance


It is the ambition of every cash girl to become a saleswoman and it is a proud day when she is allowed for the first time to attend upon a customer and supply her wants. In that trial she usually proves whether or not she has the stuff for success in her. Many eyes are upon her. The hours that the saleswoman has to keep are the same as those of the cash girl, and she is subject to the same rules, until she arrives at the head of a department, when a little more latitude is allowed. The same system of fines prevails that governs the cash girl. One would think that when a girl had been given a position of dignity and responsibility, there would be no need of anything like discipline; but it is found necessary—to the shame of the workers be it said.

In most of the large stores the proprietors know just how much each saleswoman sells every day, and in that way it is easy to keep track of her value to the firm. When girls complain that their salaries are not raised when some other girl is advanced, they do not take into account that they have not made themselves of value to those who employ them.

Discipline varies in different establishments. In some it is almost military in its severity and its perfectness. The girls are not allowed to converse with each other, except upon topics connected with the business; at other stores they may chatter as much as they please. They are not supposed to neglect customers, but they sometimes do, or else betray such an utter indifference to the customer’s wants that she goes away irritated, without making her purchase.

I had a funny little experience in a Boston store. I wanted to match some silk with ribbon, and I went with my pattern. As I entered I was met by one of the proprietors, who was known to me, and we walked along to the ribbon counter together. I handed my sample to a girl, who did not look up, but reaching it back to me, said rather curtly, “We’ve nothing like it.”

“But you haven’t looked,” I persisted.


She was about to persist also, when an odd expression on the face of one of the other girls made her glance at me. As she saw the proprietor standing by my side, she turned very red, muttered a confused apology, and began looking for the ribbon, which she very soon found. I didn’t pity her distress one bit. I think I was rather glad she was caught in that way; it will probably be a lesson to her and she will be more careful in the future.

Quite in contrast to this was something which occurred in another large establishment. A lady brought a little girl for whom she wished to purchase a cloak. The child was very large of her age, and most difficult to fit; but the saleswoman who was attending upon her did not lose her patience in the least; she tried on garment after garment; she was as interested as possible to please the customer; she made valuable suggestions, and did all in her power to help the mother out of the difficulty and give her exactly what she wanted. The result was that she made a good sale, and at the same time secured a constant customer. Do you suppose that that lady will ever go to that establishment again without asking the same girl to serve her? It is women like this one who make themselves valuable to their employers; and they are the ones, also, who are steadily advanced, and who come by and by to be the heads of departments. They are the women, too, who get the larger salaries; they are worth the most money to their employers; customers will wait for them if they are busy, and will not, if they can help it, purchase of any one else.

There is something very mean in the mere giving of eye service; it is a species of dishonesty. One of Boston’s leading merchants used often to say, in speaking of his help, “I would rather one of my salesmen or women took money from my pocket than the time which belongs to me and for which I am paying. One is just as much stealing as the other, but the latter is the more dishonorable.”

With an honorable employer, honest service cheerfully given is nearly sure to meet the reward of advancement. It is difficult to be always pleasant of voice, eye and bearing; it is not easy to feign an interest one does not feel—but the thing to do is to feel the interest. Make the customer see that you are as anxious that she should be pleased as she herself is. It will be much easier to please her. There is no reason why the purchaser and the one who serves her should regard each other as natural enemies, and each be constantly on the lookout for some fancied insult or slight. If both of them would exercise patience and charity, they would get on perfectly well together. The girl who takes a position in a store can’t afford to proclaim a declaration of independence to every customer by the insolence of her deportment. Courtesy, self-respect and a genuine interest in her business are the conditions of ultimate success, and no girl need be a failure if she has these qualities, added to the natural abilities to do the work which she has 148 undertaken. She will succeed, and she will also win for herself a multitude of friends who will both respect and admire her and make her, in their own thought, the pattern for other women of her class to model themselves upon.

So you see there are good chances for girls if they will only take them, as well as for boys; but they must be in earnest, must work as though it were a life-work, even though they do lay it down after a while; must not despise the day of small things, but be ready to do every duty as it comes to them, remembering that it is only when the lesser duty is well done, that the larger duty is offered.

rocky shore in the foreground, small sailboat in the distance, lighthouse on the horizon

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXII

when an advanced step is made it is never retraced
[Tell that to the war widows with families to support, who were kicked out of well-paying industrial jobs in 1945 when the men came home.]





BUSINESS field which women are exploring with success is that of advertising. They are becoming advertising agents, taking the position in establishments in charge of the advertising department, and above all, are finding large remuneration in writing special advertisements for manufacturing firms. The last named is an especially attractive employment for the bright girl with a quick brain and a happy faculty of expression. So clever have women proven themselves in this special line, that hardly a manufacturer having goods toward which he wishes to attract attention, fails to avail himself of their ability. The story is told of two sisters left dependent upon their own exertions, without an idea what they should do. One was a skillful amateur artist, but there were so many just as clever as she that she failed to meet the recognition she desired. Her sister wrote verses which she sent to all the leading magazines; they came back to her with a despairing regularity. Almost at their wits’ end, and too discouraged to attempt attracting the notice of publishers any more, they were almost giving up the battle, when one of them noticed an advertising card hanging in a railway car, on which some doggerel verses were printed.

“I could write much better verses than those,” she said to her sister.

“And I could make a prettier picture,” said the other.

“Let’s try our luck at it,” said the first one.

The result was eminently satisfactory to themselves, so they took picture and verses to a firm whose advertising cards they frequently noticed. The firm was pleased; they not only accepted the sample that was submitted to them, but they gave them large orders for other work. Elated by their success in this direction, they went to still other firms soliciting patronage, and now they have all they can 150 do, and support themselves handsomely with a work which they find as pleasant as it is profitable.

“It may not be quite so fine as doing verses and pictures for Harper’s and The Century, but what’s the use of doing pictures and verses and sending them to these magazines when they won’t take them, as long as we are sure of a well-paying and always open market for our wares elsewhere?”

“But,” said the sister, “they do get into Harper’s and The Century after all, for if they are not in the body of the magazine, they are counted among the prettiest and most attractive of the advertising pages, and what is better than being the best in any place where you happen to be?”

It is by no means an uncommon thing to see articles inserted in periodicals of various kinds, with the name of some well-known writer attached—articles calling attention to the virtues of some new food product, some novel invention to ease the housekeeper, some fabric which is being introduced into the market, some new toilet appliance, or some one of the hundred and one things which modern living counts as a necessity and which is invented to meet a newly discovered need. If any of you in the innocency of your heart have supposed for a moment that either the writer or the periodical was bringing this something new to public notice out of sheer kindness, please disabuse yourself of that notion at once. The writer was handsomely paid for the article in question, and the publisher of the newspaper even more handsomely rewarded for the use of his column. There is hardly a magazine writer of note who does not take this means to add to her income, and if the truth be told, this class of writing pays very much better than literature pure and simple.

The number of women engaged in this work is increasing all the time. The patent medicine proprietors are among the men who avail themselves most constantly of this sort of service. One clever woman does nothing but interview men and women who have taken a certain treatment, and writes up these interviews for her employers to use both in circulars and as advertising in the newspapers. This work does not take nearly all her time, for she is a housekeeper—one of the old-fashioned kind, one who looks well to her household, and assuredly doesn’t eat the bread of idleness—and she makes on an average $100 a month outside of her hotel and traveling expenses. She says it is a most delightful life, taking her about in various communities, bringing her in contact with pleasant people, and giving her a larger income than she could earn in any other way with the same amount of expenditure of physical and nervous force.

One of the largest houses in Milwaukee, Wis., employs a woman as advertiser. She has charge of all the advertising and catalogue work of the firm that employs her. Miss Annie M. Rose began her business career as stenographer for the largest dry goods house in Rochester, N. Y. It was the policy of the head of 151 the firm to have every letter that went out of the house typewritten, and so the heads of all the departments dictated their correspondence to Miss Rose. In this way every order for their large business went through her hands, and as she was of an intelligent, progressive turn of mind, she familiarized herself with every detail of the business. In course of time she was made the head of the mail order department, which is one of the most extensive in that part of the country. On one occasion a branch house in the southern part of the State was to be started, and Miss Rose, who had been the “advertising man” in the Rochester house, and felt that her long and varied experience had made her just as capable of managing the concern as were any of her brother workers, said to the head of the firm:

“Why don’t you send me to —— to take charge of the store?”

The answer was a laugh, and “Why, you’re a woman.” That settled the matter.

She saw that, no matter what her capabilities, “because she was a woman,” she had reached the limit of her possibilities in that house, at least, and she determined to try her fortunes elsewhere.

Her next position was that of private secretary for Mr. Warner, the proprietor of patent medicines that bear that name. The knowledge that she had acquired made her determine to try her luck as an advertiser, and she took that position for a house in Chicago. This she retained until the opening of the World’s Fair, when, with the doubt of a woman’s capabilities, which still troubles some masculine minds, the firm felt they must have a man in charge of the work.

It gives one a bit of malicious pleasure to be able to say that Miss Rose’s masculine successor is said not to have been a success.

She then became a newspaper woman on the staff of the Chicago Herald; after that she had the charge of the advertising department of the Chicago Inter-Ocean. From there she went to Milwaukee to take the place that she now occupies. In regard to her own work she says: “I believe in truthful advertising. I don’t believe in the brass band style of work, and I do not endorse prevarication in any degree. When those who read the announcement of a certain honest firm, that it has marked a particular line of goods to half-price rather than carry those goods over to another season, they know they can depend on the word of that firm that those goods are worth the original price. That advertisement will pay. The public is not quite so easily fooled as some people imagine. An advertiser must also adopt the style that takes best in the town or city where she is working.”

When asked if the work was remunerative, Miss Rose smiled and said, “It is, for men.” Doubtless her modesty would prevent her making a personal matter of the question of salary, but one may be sure that she would not have gone from position to position if one better and higher than the one which preceded it, had not her compensation kept pace with her advance.


photograph of M. B. Caffin


The Woman’s Journal, the paper founded by the lamented Lucy Stone and now carried on so ably by her talented daughter, Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, was put on its feet financially by its woman advertising agent. The late Mrs. Susan C. Vogl occupied this position for many years, and she brought the paper into prosperity by her able endeavors. She kept in harness until her death. She made herself friends by her genial cordiality; she was true and honest and her every statement could be relied upon. Men used sometimes to say that they would give Mrs. Vogl advertisements when they would not give them to any one else. It was Mrs. Vogl’s sunniness that won every time, and her genuine good will to everybody.

There are several advertising firms in the various cities of New England composed of women and they do very good business. They have a large number of patrons and control several newspapers. They are evidently making money, for everything about them bears the stamp of prosperity. One woman has undertaken railroad advertising, and she has done so well that her story is worth the telling. For some time she controlled the advertising along the line of the New York & New England Railroad, and no one could advertise without making terms with her. She left this position to take a larger one, with headquarters in New York.

When the Chicago fire occurred she was a happy young wife, living in the midst of luxury, for she was the petted daughter of rich parents and the cherished 153 wife of a still more wealthy man. This young couple had everything before them to make life bright and pleasant—riches, social position, youth, a lovely home, a dear little girl—it seemed as though nothing was wanting, but the fire came and swept away everything: the home, the property, all; and left them with little beside their youth, their baby and their willing hands. If that had been the end! But the husband fell ill from exposure at the time of the fire, and died, leaving the young wife and baby to face the world alone. They had something left, but not enough to live as the wife would like, and there would be the child to educate; so she came East and went to work. She had friends in plenty and those who were ready to give her a home and render labor unnecessary, but she was an independent body and proposed to work out her own destiny. She tried one or two things, going a step in advance every change she made, until the advertising opportunity came to her. It was a large undertaking, but it found a woman ready to meet it, and not only ready, but entirely able. She undertook the work and made a great success of it. She had an office in Boston where she made her contracts, attended personally to them, for she quickly found that her own judgment was better than that of any one she could obtain, and the terms were sure to be more satisfactory if she made them herself. From Boston she went to New York, where success still attended her.

She is a capital business woman and no man ever attempts taking unfair advantage of her simply because she is a woman. Throughout all, she has retained the same refined, charming personality that characterized her when she was a purely society woman; and she is so evidently the gentlewoman that men become more gracious when in her presence, recognizing the womanly element even in the most intricate of business problems. Her little daughter has grown to gracious, sweet womanhood under the careful mother’s eye and is housekeeper and home companion in a dear little cosy apartment in a fashionable quarter of the city where she is surrounded by the friends who have stood by her all through her career.

It is the presence of women of this kind in the business world that makes it a desirable place for other women. It is the influence of women like this that makes it easier for others when they are in the world, and it is an example like hers that should be regarded by the women who are to become business women.

There is one thing this woman does not do that I would like to emphasize. She does not consider it necessary because she has her way to make in the world, and because she has to make it in the business world, to copy the dress and manners of the men whom she meets. She is essentially womanly in dress and manner; she is content to be a woman and to keep to a woman’s ways. She wears as she should, simple tailor-made gowns at her office and about her business, but there is no suggestion of mannishness about them. Her bonnets are becoming, 154 and her hair prettily arranged. All the trifling accessories of the toilet are attended to and she is as fresh and as dainty in her office attire as she is in her pretty dresses at home.

If only every girl who is setting out to make her own way could be imbued with the idea that she would get on better and win more genuine respect from those she comes in contact with by keeping her refined femininity than by aping men in dress or manner, a valuable lesson would be learned. Boldness is not independence; self-assertion is not success. Be content to be what you are, and assume nothing else. Gain respect for your sex by the respect that you win for yourself, by your honest, fearless, but sweet and true womanliness. You will find your influence will be more far reaching than if you try to be in manners and conversation like the men with whom you are associated. The world likes a womanly woman, and this you can be, no matter how far afield you go in the world of personal endeavor.

man and dog walking along a rural riverbank

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXIII

[Illustration] MISS M. B. CAFFIN.
[That would be Mabel Blanche Caffin (b. 1862), Vice President of the Woman’s Press Association, author of the pamphlets A Jamaica Outing (1899) and A Tropical Holiday (1902). But does that mean the National Woman’s Press Association, est. 1884—or the Woman’s National Press Association, est. 1882?]


man carrying a sheaf of grain



OOKING back over a quarter of a century, it is not only interesting, but surprising to note the strides which woman has made in the world of work. It ought, indeed, to be a source of profound gratification that women generally have proven equal to all the demands made upon them in these new fields of endeavor, and are taking the departure from former habits and ideas with freedom and strength, while still maintaining the integrity and inherent traits of womanhood. They have shown themselves fully capable of wise action in emergencies and of holding their end of the line in all faithfulness and power. They have won golden opinions in positions of trust and are more and more sought for as their fitness is recognized. Men freely admit that they prefer women as clerks, as stenographers, and even as accountants.

“I am utterly lost,” said a business man the other day; “I have lost my bookkeeper; she has been with me nearly six years, and during all that time I have never had any trouble with an account; she has had hardly a day’s absence except during her regular vacation, and I have come to depend on her like my own right hand. She leaves me because she’s going to be married; had it been a question of position or salary, I should never have let her go. I don’t know how to look out for some one to take her place.”

“Yes, it’s got to be a woman; I don’t want a young man; they are not so reliable nor so painstaking.”

It is only the trained worker of whom all this can be said. Presumably, there are among women a class of incompetents who are not willing to take the 156 trouble to learn thoroughly any line of business, but are satisfied with what money they can earn by doing things in a slipshod, half-hearted fashion. This class is naturally growing smaller, however, and women are learning that, unless they are equipped, they do not get the places they seek, or having gotten them, they don’t succeed in keeping them.

Now a young man would hardly venture in business without some idea of what he was going to do, and he would expect to spend some time at learning the profession which was to give him a livelihood. Why should a girl think to come at once into a position that it would take a boy some time and a good deal of hard work to attain.

The truth is, girls until recently have not taken the idea of business as seriously as boys do; it has not been considered the one great thing for them—the life-work, which they are to carry on indefinitely. And yet it may be. No girl can tell when she begins, at what time she may leave off, and at any event, to make success sure for herself and the way easier for other girls to come after her, she should see to it that she does her work earnestly and thoughtfully. You and I are not doing our work alone for ourselves; there is something beyond individual interest even if we refuse to recognize it. Our success or our failure is not ours alone; it is that of every other woman who shall come after us, working along the lines in which we have worked. What we do makes it either more difficult or more easy for them. We cannot afford to be selfish in our way of regarding this question, and to think that it makes no difference how we do, since it is our loss and gain. If it were ours alone we might, but it is that of every other woman worker. Earnestness and determination are necessary to success, no matter in what line our work may be done.

But I started to make a suggestion, and in preaching my little bit of a sermon the thought has been almost overlooked. A business that women are taking up, and are succeeding well in, is that of real estate brokerage. There are several who have attained moderate wealth in its pursuit, while I have yet to hear of one who has met with failure. It certainly has no features that women would find difficult or unpleasant. The New York Real Estate Exchange has one woman member, Mrs. Agnes Murphy Mulligan, who has won distinguished success as a land appraiser and real estate agent. Mrs. Mulligan studied law in order to be better qualified to deal in real estate, and so expert is she regarded in her particular profession that she is often called upon to adjust values when the parties in an important deal fail to agree. She appraises land for many wide extending railroad corporations, and, to use her own phrase, is often kept “actually too busy to eat.” Mrs. Mulligan has fifteen clerks in her office who also keep the wires working, and sometimes she is unable to give personal attention to her more important clients, among whom are many of the largest land owners of the 157 metropolis. She is of Irish blood, but her people have been in this country for more than a century. She first went into business to attend to her father’s affairs when he was stricken with illness. She is still a young woman, being only a little past thirty, and although possessed of wonderful acumen and sound knowledge of business values, she is proud of being a happy wife and happy mother.

One of the first women to take up real estate brokerage as a business was Mrs. Carrie LaCoste, of Malden, Mass. She kept a fancy goods store, but her health failing, she was compelled to get some business which took her out of doors, and some friends gave her some houses to manage for them. She sold her own business and managed so successfully with the estates in her hands that others gave her opportunities, and she soon found all she could do. It was a saying in Malden that none of Mrs. Lacoste’s houses ever remained a long time unlet and that she had a faculty of securing most desirable tenants.

Still another to make a success in this business was Mrs. Woelper, of Boston. Mrs. Woelper was a Southern woman, born in New Orleans of Northern parents. Her husband was connected with one of the New Orleans newspapers, but he died very early in their married life and she found that she must look out for herself. Through the exertions of her husband’s newspaper friends she was given a position in the post-office in New Orleans as an expert in deciphering illegible writing—a position of great responsibility.

But she could not endure the office confinement and all the time her heart was going to New England, the birthplace of her ancestors, where she had passed many happy days during her girlhood. She had a small property in New Orleans and she managed it so wisely that it yielded her a good return. She liked the work of looking after it, too, and when finally she made up her mind that she would give up her position and go North she also made up her mind that she would go into the real estate business. To think and to act were simultaneous and she speedily found herself in Boston where she took an office and began to advertise. She had a few friends and they helped her what they could, but the greater part of her work was done by sheer and untiring effort.

At first very few people knew that E. G. Woelper stood for a woman when they saw it signed to advertisements of estates that were to be let, and not long after she was established and was doing a good business, a business man who knew her happened into the office of another real estate agent. On asking casually about business, he was told that it was very brisk and that he—the real estate man—and “that fellow Woelper,” seemed to have the most of it.

“Do you know Woelper?” was the query of the amused visitor.

“No, I don’t, but from all the indications I should say he was a hustler,” was the reply.

“Well, you ought to see that fellow,” said the friend.


“Why, particularly?”

“Well, as a matter of interest to you, it happens that that fellow Woelper isn’t a fellow at all, but a clever, bright woman, and a pretty one too.”

To say the real estate man was surprised would be putting it very mildly; he was simply overcome.

From nearly every city comes the report of women who have formed corporations to deal in real estate, and we all know that more than ever women left with property on their hands are managing for themselves instead of placing the property in the hands of men to manage for them. This shows at least that a woman finds nothing in this business that she may not do with propriety and success. It is a hard work and carries a weight of responsibility with it, but it is pleasant, profitable and healthful. It compels the person who follows it to be a good deal in the air, and thus keeps her well in spite of herself. To be successful, a woman must have business ability; she must have that tact which shall enable her to meet people pleasantly and adapt herself to their situations and their moods. She must have a knowledge of the market values of buildings and of lands; she must understand the laws that relate to the government of real estate, of proving titles, of conveying mortgages, and all the other business technicalities. She must be well up in the science of drainage and ventilation, so that she may be able to judge of the sanitary conditions of a house; but this knowledge is not alone necessary for the woman who is to become a dealer in real estate; every woman in every community should understand thoroughly the laws of sanitation in order that she may protect herself and her family against the dangers that come from bad drainage and poor ventilation.

There is nothing in all this that any bright woman may not learn, and learn very readily. None of the women who have adopted this business have found any difficulty whatever in acquiring all the knowledge needed. They did not gain it all at once; it has come by degrees as the need of it has been felt. And it has come naturally without severe mental strain. In fact, as one of these women said in speaking of her experience, “It comes almost unconsciously; some way or other you find yourself knowing just the thing you ought to know without being quite sure when or where the knowledge was acquired.”

Women are adaptable, very much more so than men, as a rule, and since this is true there is no reason why they should not succeed especially well as real estate brokers, as one of the greatest needs in the business is that of adapting themselves to the persons with whom they come in contact. They must be as deeply and as truly interested in the man or the woman who has a small place for sale, or who desires to purchase a cheap house, as they are in those who have the larger commissions for them. They must be as interested in finding the suitable, responsible tenant for the inexpensive cottage or flat, or the suitable abode for the family of 159 limited means, as they are in looking up the tenant for the more pretentious estate, or finding a home for the man or woman of abundant means. It is the plan of the successful business woman that every customer shall bring another, and she works with this end constantly in view. And, girls, those of you who propose to go into business of any kind, that is a good plan to go on.

Said the proprietor of one of Boston’s largest stores to a friend after he had reproved a clerk for carelessness and inattention to a customer and had been met with the excuse that all the woman wanted was a paper of needles:

“It isn’t the value of the sale; it’s the fact of the sale. A woman comes here for a paper of needles, a paper of pins, or any small article; if she is made to feel that it is a pleasure to serve her, she’s coming again; not only will she come herself, but she will send others. If I lose her custom because the needles or pins are given her as though she had insulted the store by making so petty a purchase, it’s a pretty expensive paper of pins or needles for me; I don’t care to pay the price.”

That’s true of all business transactions. If it is made pleasant the result is sensibly felt, and if unpleasant the result is even more apparent and not satisfactorily so. If this is borne in mind the girls who read this will have learned one good lesson in the economics of business, and a most important lesson which will stand them in stead all the way through. It is, indeed, the underlying principle of all business success.


Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXIV

Why should a girl think . . . to attain.
final punctuation unchanged: expected ? (question mark)

She is of Irish blood, but her people have been in this country for more than a century.
[In other words, not one of those dirty drunken Irish immigrants.]

he—the real estate man—and “that fellow Woelper,” seemed to have the most of it
open quote missing





HILE it cannot yet be claimed for women that they have in large numbers invaded what has been popularly supposed to be a province sacred to man—the banking house—nevertheless enough of them have within the last few years been called upon to occupy the positions of cashiers and tellers to make it quite proper to include this among the list of possibilities for the girl who has business talent and finds that she must win her own way in the world.

Most of the women who have occupied these stations in the past have come into them through accident or some stress of circumstance beyond their control. One of the first women to be chosen as a bank official was Miss Grace J. Alexander, of Winchester, New Hampshire. This pretty little town in the Ashuelot valley, like many another country town, finds that its young men as soon as they are fitted for business seek occupation in the cities or go West in search of the fortune which they feel sure awaits them. So it has been found difficult to obtain educated, ambitious young men for the home position. Miss Alexander was chosen to fill a vacancy in the National Bank as teller until such time as a man could be found who was fitted for the position. But as time went on Miss Alexander so fully demonstrated her own special fitness and so won the confidence of all with whom she came in contact, that nothing more was ever said about looking for the man, and she has occupied the position ever since. A few years ago some of the leading business men of Cheshire County were desirous of establishing a savings bank at Winchester, and at a meeting of those interested it was unanimously voted that if, in addition to her duties as assistant cashier of the National Bank, Miss Alexander would undertake to act as treasurer of the proposed savings bank, it should be established.

“For,” said one of the men, “if Grace Alexander undertakes it we won’t have to bother our heads with the affairs of the bank. We just know we’ve got 161 an honest official. I’d trust that woman before any man in the State of New Hampshire.”

photograph of Grace J. Alexander


The savings bank became an established fact, and to this day Miss Alexander holds the two positions. She attained her position, not through accident nor special stress of circumstance, but because she simply demonstrated her eminent fitness for it.

The First National Hank of Indianapolis, Indiana, has a woman as cashier—Mrs. Sarah Frances Dick, who is also a director in the institution, and has demonstrated in every way her ability to fill with perfect satisfaction the important function. When she became assistant cashier she was then Miss Sarah McGrew, and she took the position to assist her father, who at that time was the cashier. This was in 1873. In 1881 the bank was reorganized, her father was promoted to the presidency and she became cashier. In the meanwhile she had been married to Mr. Julius Dick, one of the most influential merchants of Huntington, Indiana. She has since filled the position in a manner that is entirely satisfactory to the bank directory.

Mrs. Dick received her education in the common schools of Indianapolis, and afterward took a course in the business college at Dayton, Ohio. She is quick and accurate in her accounts, and writes a bold round hand. In the handling of money, both coin and paper, she is very expert and rarely makes a miscount. She disposes of a mass of business with a dispatch that puzzles her men associates. She writes all the notes, drafts and deposit certificates of the bank, counts up the interest on the collections, cashes checks, discounts paper, and attends to a lot of work that ordinarily requires the work of several persons. In one day recently she handled fifty-four thousand dollars in small accounts, involving six hundred transactions in three hundred and sixty minutes, with an average of thirty-five seconds to each transaction.

In California Mrs. Mary Costa has just taken the position of cashier in the bank at San Jose. Her husband is the principal owner in the bank, but that does not detract from the fact that she fills the position as well as any salaried employe. 162 Mrs. Costa is a born and bred American and a native of San Jose. Her girlhood went on in a country town a few miles from that city, and her education was at the district school such as California at that time maintained. After marriage her business instincts began to assert themselves and presently she became the secretary of her husband, and was soon his principal business assistant. As she grew in business knowledge she became more and more fascinated with the detail, and from the embryo financier she became fully fledged and an adept in the mysteries of the various transactions in which her husband engaged.

Out in that far Western world a bank, such as the new cashier officiates in, has a multitudinous amount of detail to consider. It is not only difficulties in English that have to be met, but in this particular institution she has to confront financial sorrow in Italian, with an occasional experience in German and French. To understand how to handle an emergency that arises under the auspices of one’s own tongue is not so difficult a task, but when you have to meet it from the standpoint of other countries it is decidedly different, and there is where Mrs. Costa demonstrates her eminent fitness and capacity.

The Rev. Russell H. Conwell in speaking before women in 1891, on how girls and women can make money, gave the statistics of the number of women engaged by the banking houses of Boston and New York, and compared it with the number employed in 1880, showing an increase of over two hundred per cent. It is probable that during the present decade this percentage will be largely increased, especially if among the banking employes are counted, as in all fairness they should be, the stenographers, typewriters and confidential clerks of the bank officials.

The employment of women in private banking houses is much more common than in the national and savings banks, and yet, while in the large cities very few are found filling positions, in country places it is by no means an uncommon thing to find a young woman officiating in the local bank.

It is not in this country alone that the services of women have been found of value by bank directors, but as the result of long and careful experiment, the governor of the Bank of France has now entrusted the work of detection of forged bank notes and of debentures with altered numbers entirely to a special corps of women clerks. He declares that the keen sensibility of their finger tips enables them in handling the notes to distinguish the difference, however slight, between the forged and the real article. The means adopted for bringing to light the falsified numbers on debentures are rather more elaborate, and consist mainly in thee distinction of the difference in the symmetry of the figures, and of the ink used, magnifying glasses being used for the former, and chemical preparations for the latter. It is claimed that the women are more careful and more correct than men, and that they rarely fail in their work of detection.


Bankers have been very materially assisted by the invention of Miss Jennie Wertheimer of Cincinnati, who has made a fortune by the introduction of this happy thought of hers: Three years ago she hit upon a scheme of commercial paper which would effectually exclude all possibility of raising amounts on checks, forging names, or otherwise tampering with its face value. The persevering little woman spent many days, as well as long night vigils, to perfect her system. She patented a private check system for the benefit of bankers, and a plan of commercial paper to make attempts at forgery futile. The principal feature of her invention lies in the form and composition of the draft. From the top of the note to the name in favor of whom the amount is made out the paper material has the usual thickness. But from that point it becomes as thin and transparent as tissue paper. At the same time the paper preserves its strength and durability. If the note has been tampered with in any way it will be shown by holding the paper up to the light. Miss Wertheimer sent to thirty paper manufacturers throughout the United States before she could get one able to work out her idea. She has been offered the interest on eighty thousand dollars for the period of twenty years, and at the expiration of that time the property is to be turned over to her. Possibly Miss Wertheimer should be classified among the inventors, but her work has been so directly a help to those in the banking business, and was so evidently the outgrowth of some experience in banking affairs, that it has seemed better to include her in the list of women whose interests and labors are in banking.

Not all girls can be successful as these women have been in a line of business which calls for so much judgment in financial affairs, but then, neither can every man. There must, for success, be a general business talent, and with this, inflexible honesty, absolute accuracy, quickness and correctness at figures, and a knowledge of the money and stock market. Unless one possesses a natural business gift it will be worse than useless to attempt to enter this business. But, having the talent, it is worth while to fit one’s self to enter a banking house by first taking a thorough course in some good business college. Even then, the opportunity for which you long will not come to you so readily as it would were you a young man. This is one of the cases in which sex militates not against success—for in almost every case the woman banker or banker’s assistant has proven successful—but against the opportunity. Whether it is because men engaged in banking business are more conservative than other classes of men who employ skilled clerical labor, or because they have been so long in the habit of considering young men as the only possible candidates for positions, one cannot judge; but whatever may be the reason, the fact remains that very few women are called to such positions. It may be the fault of the girls themselves. The possibility of the banker’s career may not have presented itself. It wouldn’t be strange if that were the case, for women have been so accustomed to hear themselves set up as 164 examples of bad financiering and have so often been told that they knew nothing about the value of money, that they really have come to believe this; and that, in spite of the fact that in household affairs and in the handling of their own modest income, they have proven their ability to make their expenses come within the limit of their income—an economic achievement which is the dominating principle of all business success.

And now, since the way is open, it only remains for the brave, ambitious girl to set her daring feet within it. As yet, the path is not very well trodden, but enough have gone before her, blazing their way through the forests of prejudice and tradition, to make it safe for her to follow.

bird on an oak branch, overlooking a bridge over a brook

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXV

It is not in this country alone that the services of women have been found of value by bank directors
[Saudi Arabia comes to mind, with its women-only banks.]





HE soliciting of insurance and the management of insurance business, as a legitimate and practical work for women, has recently come to attract widespread attention. At first this work was almost wholly restricted to life insurance, but following the successful work done in that direction, the women agents are extending their lines to embrace fire risks also. Nearly all the prominent life insurance companies now have a woman’s department, efficiently directed by a woman manager. Such positions as these, demanding unusual executive ability, and commanding more than generous salaries, must of course be comparatively few in number; but the field now opening to women for soliciting life insurance and placing fire risks, and for managing local agencies, is almost unlimited.

Miss Carrie Kirtle, the manager of the woman’s department of the Mutual Life at Louisville, Ky., at the Business Woman’s Congress in Nashville, Tenn., in 1897, read a paper on “Life Insurance as an Investment and Field of Work for Women,” in which she said:

“Taking the insurance field as a place of work for women, or insurance as a real business, I believe that it is the coming work for the intelligent, energetic women of the South as it is of the North, East and West. Some time ago a periodical published a list of the best income-earning women in the United States. Among those named were two Vassar graduates who are soliciting insurance. A woman’s department is now a feature of nearly all the State agencies—intelligent women are sought and offered good pay, if successful. All the better classes of women are solicited. The teacher saves a part of her salary to take care of her 166 when her duties grow too arduous. A ten-year policy gives her an annuity, which takes the place of her salary. The clerk, bookkeeper and stenographer buy policies that are to mature during their lifetime. The business woman insures that her business may not suffer a shrinkage at her death, and that her credit may be better. She holds no stronger collateral than a policy in a good company. The wealthy woman protects her estate and buys investments in life insurance where there is little fluctuation in steady earnings, or she buys a policy such that a certain sum be paid to her heirs, or to her estate, during a certain number of years.”

While it is true that many of the women who are entering upon the insurance business to-day do so from choice, it is probably equally true that the majority of those who began the work in years past were influenced to take it up by force of circumstances. It has often happened that the sudden death of a husband and father, leaving his wife to provide for the family, has led her to seek, in the insurance agencies which he had managed, the means to furnish that support. If she has acquired some knowledge of her husband’s business and shows promise of ability, the companies often appoint her to succeed him as their agent. In many other cases a bright daughter, fresh from school and anxious to do something, has gone into the office “to help father.” As time passed she has mastered details and developed ability until when her father died, or became too old to continue the business, the companies which he represented have been glad to make his daughter his successor. Such cases are growing more numerous every year.

Successful women insurance agents have been at work longer than most people are aware. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company recently published an article of considerable length, speaking in the highest terms of the efficient work done by three women in its employ, and showing by comparisons with the work of men, how well the women held their own in industrial insurance. These women were Mrs. Louisa Wood, of New York, who has been in the employ of the company for twelve years, taking up the work upon the death of her husband; Mrs. Hattie M. Gifford, of Syracuse, N. Y., who has been at work for the company for fifteen years; and Mrs. Edith McGregor, who seventeen years ago, when her husband’s health failed, began to do his work, and after his death continued it. Of these three women the company’s article goes on to say: “The spirit of resolute determination which has actuated them in their work, the pluck with which they have removed the barriers to their progress, the courage and fortitude with which they have met every difficulty and overcome every discouragement, furnish an object lesson from which a moral may be drawn with profit by many of the so-called sterner sex.”

Mrs. Louisa A. Starkweather, the superintendent of women’s agencies at St. Louis, for the Mutual Life of New York, is perhaps as well known and as successful 167 as any woman in the business, but every insurance register now gives the names of scores of women fire and life agents. The widow of Mr. Emil Fischer, of Indianapolis, is successfully carrying on his business. Miss Georgia Todd, of Kansas City, Mo., has recently been appointed agent for the Royal Insurance Company. Miss Clara Goodspeed, of Joliet, Ill., has just succeeded to a profitable business which her sister, recently deceased, had built up. Mabel M. Hobart, of Hingham, Mass., since her father’s death, has managed the agencies which he represented. Mrs. F. W. Cheney, of Manchester, N. H., is the manager of the woman’s department of the Mutual Life agency there for New Hampshire and Vermont. When Mr. C. G. Stevens, of Clinton, Mass., retired from business at an advanced age, his daughter, Miss E. K. Stevens, took charge of the several agencies which he had managed. These are only a few of many. The Insurance Register, of Boston, for instance, shows the names of a large number of women insurance brokers doing business all over the city and suburbs.

Among women workers in the insurance journalistic field Miss Emily A. Ransom, of Boston, holds a unique position, being associated with her father, Mr. C. M. Ransom, in editing and publishing the Standard, a weekly insurance newspaper. While of the sixty or so insurance publications in the United States there are several owned by women, as a part of estates left by their husbands, the Standard is, so far as the writer has been able to learn, the only insurance paper actively managed by a woman, and containing a special woman’s department. Miss Ransom is an authority upon questions pertaining to her work, and by invitation read a paper on “Life Insurance for Women” at the Women’s Congress of the Atlanta Exposition. Writing at that time Miss Ransom said:

“According to the best information obtainable, the American life insurance companies have to-day about $50,000,000 of insurance on the lives of women. Allowing $2000 per policy, it follows that about 25,000 of the women in these United States have made provisions for their own future need or that of others. When it is remembered that there are in this country about 4,000,000 women of insurable age, it will readily be seen that the solicitors who shall undertake to place before them the benefits of life insurance will find a plenteous harvest ready to be gathered. In this connection I would suggest that while the proper study of mankind is man, the proper solicitors of life insurance among women are women, and to-day we find many of our sex adopting this business and working most acceptably side by side with the male solicitors. Twenty-one women carry insurance to the amount of $100,000, several are carrying $75,000, and some fifty are insured for $50,000 each. One woman carries $300,000, one $150,000, and another $135,000, while four carry insurance to the amount of $125,000 each. While these amounts may seem enormous, they sink into insignificance when compared with the insurance carried by men, as, for instance, Mr. John 168 Wanamaker, of Philadelphia, who, if he should die to-morrow, would leave insurance to the amount of nearly $2,000,000.”

In this connection it is interesting to know what some prominent women in various lines of work think of life insurance for women. The Insurance Press, of New York, recently collected and published in pamphlet form the opinions on this subject of a number of well known and successful women, from which some extracts are here made.

Mrs. Ellen M. Henrotin, president General Federation of Women’s Clubs, says:

“It is just as necessary for a woman to have her life insured as it is for a man, and how any other idea could prevail it is difficult to understand. It is a great mistake to suppose that the mother does not contribute as much to the finance of the home as the father.

“A great deal has been written about the feeling of security of a man in dying to know that his life was insured, and women would be equally comforted in reflecting, as they leave the scene of their active labors, that their children were provided for. In fact, the same arguments which apply to render it necessary to insure the life of a man apply to that of a woman, with a few others added. I regard it no less the duty of a woman to insure her life than a man, and think in the near future many will do so.”

Mrs. Mary Lowe Dickinson, president of the National Council of Women, general secretary of the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons, says:

“Women the world over must, it seems to me, welcome better facilities and better conditions for life assurance for women, as a new factor in the agencies that protect and further her welfare. The reasons why woman should not benefit by these provisions are difficult to understand, while the reasons why she should benefit thereby are so plain that ‘he who runs may read.’”

Mrs. Harriet Prescott Spofford says:

“I believe heartily in life insurance as a safeguard of the family, and the friend and protector of women.”

Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood, attorney and solicitor, and secretary of the American Branch of the International Peace Bureau, says:

“Life insurance for women is desirable for widows and spinsters. To such a good life insurance might provide a burial fund, opportunity to create a worthy charity, a fund for their own old age, or one to provide for children or relatives in a manner that could not be otherwise obtained. To them it is worth considering.”

From Octave Thanet, the well-known writer:

“Life insurance is as valuable to women who have families to support as it is to men in the same case. It is, in fact, more valuable, since the wage-earning and 169 money-accumulating capacities of women do not equal those of men. Many a mother of little children, whose husband is dead, has less sleep than she needs because of the black thoughts that come of her little ones’ future, should she die. To such a woman I can imagine no greater boon than a sure dependence in the shape of life insurance for enough to take care of her children until the older ones shall be able to take care of the others.”

Miss Laura S. Watson, principal Abbot Academy, Andover, Mass., says:

“In these days when hundreds of thousands of women are supporting not only themselves, but parents, children, and even husbands, what wiser means for providing against the day of misfortune than that which most men deem wise for themselves—life insurance?”

Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, M. D., says:

“I consider that life insurance is alike a protection against ill-health and a prolonger of life itself. When the care of children and others devolves upon a woman, the consciousness that if she were taken away the dependent ones would still be cared for, or (in case of her own old age) that her endowment policy or annuity would provide for her, would give her freedom from that anxiety and worry which is often the cause of sickness and premature death.”

Dr. Phebe J. B. Wait, A. M., dean of the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women, says:

“My advice to women, married or single, is: Insure, and then hold fast to the policy, even though sometimes other things have to be gone without thereby.”

Mrs. Annie Jenness Miller says:

“I firmly believe in life insurance for women, and I prove my faith by carrying policies of considerable size. As an investment for women, the plan is as good as for men, and it is particularly good for the working-woman who has others dependent on her. The knowledge that a yearly investment in the shape of premiums, which she can arrange to meet by judicious management, will insure beloved ones against suffering, in case of accident to her, will remove a great haunting fear from her daily life.”

Mrs. Emily Huntington Miller, dean of Woman’s College, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., says:

“I shall be glad if any word of mine can add weight to the arguments in favor of life insurance as a protective investment for women, and induce them to avail themselves of its opportunities instead of risking their earnings in doubtful speculations.”

Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart says:

“It goes without saying, does it not?—that life insurance is quite as important for women who have families dependent upon them, as it is for men in like 170 circumstances. When the removal of a mother would mean the withdrawal of a family’s living, manifestly that mother would do well to insure.”

With all this accumulation of evidence in favor of insurance for women, is it not fair to argue that they would prefer to deal with women both as medical experts in their examinations for insurance and as writers of their policies? Since so many are already in the field, there is no reason why others should not follow and why it should not be made one of the regular avocations which girls may take up in order to win a livelihood.


Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXVI

is almost unlimited
text has ulimited

The teacher saves a part of her salary to take care of her when her duties grow too arduous.
[I’ve seen one 19th-century article advising teachers to save half of their salary.]

Mrs. Ruth McEnery Stuart says:
text has spurious open quote





OSSIBLY some of you girls who prefer romance to reality may feel inclined to turn up your noses at this chapter, but I assure you you will find very much of interest and profit in it, and will be paid by a careful study of the statistics which it contains. Figures aren’t always interesting, to be sure, but a study of them is almost certain to be helpful, and this is submitted to you that you may know for a fact what women already are doing in the world of labor, and the many opportunities there are for you in whatever field you may think you will excel.

The detailed table of occupations just issued from the Census Office gives many interesting facts in relation to the entrance of the American woman into various branches of trade and industry, and also throws light upon her advent into the professions.

The totals of the occupation tables were published a year or two ago, and from them it was learned that the number of women engaged in the gainful occupations increased between 1880 and 1890 nearly 48 per cent, while the number of men engaged increased about 28 per cent. During this period professional women increased 75 per cent, and those engaged in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits nearly 63 per cent, while in trade and transportation the increase was 263 per cent and over—two and a half times as great as in 1880. These were figures to make one think and they naturally awakened curiosity as to what particular professions, trades and industries women had selected as a means of earning a livelihood.

To satisfy this curiosity and reply to the inquiries the Census Bureau made a comprehensive inquiry as to the occupations in which women find a means of 172 support and usefulness. The inquiry included also the comparative work and wages of men, women and children. The information elicited is just given to the public.

Broadly speaking, it would appear that the American woman, like her British kin beyond the sea, has taken a dip into every occupation. The advance of woman has been complete, and, with the exception of the United States army and navy, there are no blanks. She labors in the field and dairy, and thrives as a farmer, planter and overseer. She goes forth in a boat and braves the wind and sea in fishing, and drags the bed of the ocean for oysters. She may be found in lumber camps, doing duty as wood-chopper and lumberman, and even as a raftsman woman has tried her hand, and is not afraid to own up to the census man. With pick and dynamite she quarries stone and delves into the earth in search of the common minerals and the precious metals.

In the professional world woman has made here appearance in every occupation save that of marshaling armies and conducting war. Her progress in professional life has been as marked as in trade and industry. Here we have it with all the authority of the government official:

1870. 1890.
Actors, 692 3,949
Architects, 1 22
Artists and teachers of art, 412 10,815
Authors and literary, 159 2,725
Chemists, assayists and metallurgists, . . 39
Clergymen, . . 1,143
Dentists, draughtsmen and inventors, 13 305
Engineers (civil, mechanical, electrical and mining), . . 124
Journalists, 35 888
Lawyers, 5 208
Musicians and teachers of music, 5,753 34,518
Officials (government), 414 4,875
Physicians and surgeons, 527 4,557
Professors and teachers, 84,047 246,066
Theatrical managers, showmen, etc., 100 634
Veterinary surgeons, . . 2
Other professional service, 8 479
Totals, 92,257 311,687

Isn’t that an interesting story told in figures? A story of advance, of endeavor, of actual accomplishment. It is full of suggestion to the bright girl who needs only a hint to set her in the way in which success will be found.

Beside all the old occupations, we find women planning houses and decorating them; in the chemical laboratory; administering gas and pulling teeth; designing 173 and inventing; and grappling with the difficult problems of civil engineering. They are on the road as theatrical agents and managers, and in the roll of veterinary surgeons, administering to the ailments of dumb animals. Notice, if you please, the increase of newspaper women—that is so much better term than journalists—from 35 in 1870 to 888 in 1890, and as authors, from 159 to 2725. There are six times as many women on the stage in 1890 as in 1870; three times as many professors and teachers; ten times as many women government officials; nine times as many women physicians and surgeons; more than forty times as many women lawyers; six times as many women musicians and teachers of music; twenty-five times as many artists and teachers of art; while the number occupying the pulpit has increased from 67 in 1870 to 1143 eleven years later. Summed up, we find an army of over 300,000, or about one-third of all persons engaged in professional services in the United States, to be women. This is not only a large actual increase, but, relatively to the men, the number of women is greater than in 1870.

Turning from this brilliant advent into professional life, we will follow woman’s progress in what the dry tables of the census office generally term “domestic and professional service.” Beside the old stand-by occupations—lodging-house keepers, laundresses, nurses and servants—we find the nineteenth century woman pushing into heretofore unheard-of avocations; as a barber, her dexterous fingers lightly remove man’s grizzly beard; 19 women brave the wilds of forest and mountain as hunters, trappers, guides and scouts; while, more singular still, perhaps, 28 evince no fear of ghosts and spirits in the somewhat mournful occupation of sexton. There are three times as many women hotel keepers as in 1870: nearly twenty times as many janitors; while entirely new occupations have been discovered for women as engineers, watchmen and detectives, under which last head 279 are returned.

It is in trade and transportation that woman has made her most tremendous record in these years. Over 200,000 intelligent, industrious, capable women have found a sure and honest way of making a living. As bookkeepers, clerks, typewriters, stenographers, cashiers, telegraph operators, women have found a profitable field of labor and occupation for which they are as well fitted as men, if not better. In the largest class—bookkeepers, clerks and saleswomen—the increase has been phenomenal. As agents and collectors, the number of women has increased from 97 to 4875. There are five times as many women returned as merchants and dealers, and over thirty times as many under the head of “packers and shippers”—aggregating in 1890, 6520 women. From 355 operators in 1870, women telegraph and telephone operators increased to 8474 in 1890, and probably number over 10,000 now. Women seem to flourish and increase and multiply in trade, transportation, as bankers and brokers, commercial travelers, dairymen, 174 peddlers, weighers and gaugers, as bank officials; yet as sailors, undertakers, auctioneers, boatmen and pilots, they have met with no success.

In manufacturing and mechanical pursuits women have found new and important industries and have not been slow in availing themselves of the opportunity thus offered for bread-winning. The census shows five times as many women bookkeepers, nearly four hundred times as many engaged in making boots and shoes, seven times as many employed in box making, as there were in 1870. In 1890 clock and watch making gave employment to nearly 5,000 women, and in 1870 to only 75. The increased demand for confectionery of all kinds brought the number of women employed in that industry from 612 to 5674. About one-third was added to our cotton operatives. The tremendous increase in dressing the women and children of our country may be studied in the fact that our army of dressmakers, milliners and seamstresses multiplied more than five times in the period mentioned. Pottery, photography, lithography—all now give employment to nearly 10,000 women. The printing office, the rope and rubber factories, the shirt, collar and cuff manufactories, the silk mills, are employing more than 50,000 women.

In the industries American women are literally taking a hand in all branches. As blacksmiths they ply the hammer on the anvil and make the sparks fly. They bind books, and make bottles; as contractors, they build houses. They work in all the metals, including gold and silver. They cut stone, lay brick and plaster walls. And one woman has returned herself to the census man as a well digger.

A study of the figures given above not only suggests the intense fight for existence which has been going on for the last quarter of a century and has made it necessary for the women of the family to do something for themselves, but it likewise brings out the fact that they have not been slow in taking advantage of opportunities afforded them for a wider range of employment. While they have taken up some peculiar occupations, the satisfactory feature of the inquiry lies in the fact that they have made greatest headway in the occupations which are best fitted for them, namely, the professions and trades and many branches of manufacture. Upon the whole, the 4,000,000 women bread-winners of the United States may be congratulated on the headway they have made on the road to independence, and still more are they to be congratulated at the reputations they have won for themselves as workers. In almost every case those who employ women speak of their honesty, their sobriety, and above all their extreme faithfulness. They obey not only the letter, but the spirit of the unwritten rules that are set for the guidance of every employe. With these qualities, it is no wonder that women have come so well to the front and that the positions which they occupy are constantly increasing in importance.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXVII

the increase was 263 per cent and over—two and a half times as great as in 1880
[Three and a half. The figures from earlier in the paragraph make it plain that we are talking about increases on top of the base 100%.]

with the exception of the United States army and navy, there are no blanks
[The Army Nurse Corps dates back to 1901, but it took time to develop.]

woman has made here appearance in every occupation
text unchanged: error for her appearance?





FTER all, this is the vital question: With what sort of a weapon will you ward off the attacks of the blood-hound Poverty, which Dame Fortune is pretty sure to set on everybody’s track sooner or later, that she may try his mettle, and learn what manner of spirit he is of? In times like these, when men’s hearts are failing them for fear, when riches are saved the trouble of “taking to themselves wings” by the faithless cashiers and bookkeepers who are adepts at furnishing these flying implements, and, above all, when labor is coming to be king, the question “What will you do?” has fresh significance.

After all, it doesn’t so much signify what you do as that you do it well, whatever it may be. Think a moment. Will you be led to say, “The good old ways are good enough for me,” and so drop into the swollen ranks of teacherdom, or rattle away on a martyrized piano, and then set up for a musician, though you have not a particle of music in throat or finger-tips? Or will you stay at home and let papa support you until you grow tired of doing nothing and expecting nothing, and proceed to marry some man whom you endure rather than love, just to get decently out of your dilemma?

Nay, I do you injustice. Few girls who breathe the free air of our Eastern mountains and Western prairies will be so cowardly. I will venture—that when you marry, you will seek not a name behind which to cover up the insignificance of your own; not a “good provider,” to feed and clothe one who has learned how to feed and clothe herself; not a “natural protector,” to shield you in his plaidie, the gallant, gallant laddie, from the cauld, cauld blast; but you will seek that rarest, choicest, most elusive prize of man’s existence, as of woman’s—namely, a mate.


In less enlightened days, your ideal woman composed the single, grand class for which public prejudice set itself to provide. She was to be the wife and mother, and she was carefully enshrined at home. But, happily, this is the world’s way no longer. The exceptions are so many, that not to provide for those exceptions would be a monstrous meanness, if not a crime. And the provision made in this instance is the most rational—indeed, the only rational one which it is in the power of society or government to make for any save the utterly incapable—namely, a fair chance for self-help. Clearly, to all of you I am declaring a true and blessed gospel, in this good news concerning honest independence and brave self-help! Clearly, also, no one is wise enough to tell who, in future years, shall need a bread-winning weapon with which to defend herself and perchance also the helpless ones between whom and the world there may be no arm but hers. But it is a principle in public as well as private economy, that the wisest foresight provides for the remotest contingency, and thus, in its full force, all that I have been saying applies to every woman who may read these pages. Suppose that many of you, dear girls, are destined to a downy nest, instead of a strong-winged flight—what then? Will the years spent in making the most of the best powers with which God has endowed you be worse employed than if you had given them to fashion and frivolity?

Thus far I have been trying to impress upon you the reasons why you should cultivate individuality and independence in word and deed. I have claimed that each one of you has a “call” to some specific work, indicated by God’s gifts to you of brain, or heart, or hand. But if you acquire, let it be that you may dispense; if you achieve, that others may sun themselves in the kind glow of your prosperity. People who spend their strength in absorbing are failures and parasites. It is alike the business of the sun and of the soul to radiate every particle of light that they contain. And so, having made sure of your light, strength and discipline, strike out from the warm and radiant centre of a self-poised brain and heart, into the lives about you, and you will find that “What is good for the hive is good also for the bee.” “Self-culture” is much in vogue nowadays, and has for its high priests some of the most incisive minds of this or any age.

But self-culture stops in the middle of the sentence I would fain help you to utter. It says, “Make the most of your powers;” it does not say “for others’ sake as well as for your own.” It claims that if we set the candle of our gifts upon the candlestick of modern society, its life will inevitably radiate according to its power of shining, and thus, while brightening ourselves we shall have done our utmost toward lighting up the general gloom. But self-culture forgets that a candle is no type of you and me. We are human spirit-lamps, whose rays should be directed and intensified by the blow-pipe of an unceasing 178 purpose; for we are all so made that unless we will to light up other lives, we can never do so to the limit of our power.


photograph of Lady Henry Somerset, in ornamental frame


Now, then, young women who are ready for work, the memory of my own early aspirations leads me to add: I desired financial independence—that is, to bear my own weight. I said, “Grant me a place to stand,” and sought a lever by which I might help to move the world. If this describes your mental outlook, let us confer together concerning your vocation.

There is none nobler than that of a teacher or a professor in an institution for the higher education. But these ranks are overcrowded, and without decided talent, some experience or rare influence, you risk much in making choice of teaching as your field of labor.

Journalism is difficult. Literature, without the highest order of talent, is hopeless. Lyceum lecturing has passed its prime and the most gifted and famous alone can win in that arduous field. Public reading as an avocation for women is as much overcrowded as the legal profession is for men. In music, vocal and instrumental, there is an absolute glut of the market, save for the highly endowed. Moreover, in all these lines the standard is rising so steadily and to such a height that mediocrity, once endurable, is now hopelessly condemned. To be a fourth or even a third-rate musician is to have failed outright. To paint daubs and call them pictures is a positive sin. To murder the modern languages by false accent and atrocious grammar hath not forgiveness in this world. But behold, all these things are done daily by droves of young persons who are blindly or ignorantly resolved upon the unattainable.

This inventory includes most of the higher occupations save one, and that is the well-nigh boundless field of practical philanthropy. There is a welcome from the best, for women, on the moral battlefields of this busy age. Soldiers are needed; new recruits eagerly sought. No class of workers outrank women in opportunity, dignity, or the rewards that a sincere heart prizes most. To be sure, wealth cannot be won here, but a moderate income, sufficient for current needs, is certain to all faithful and efficient workers. A noisy fame is not to be attained, but a thousand homes will be your own and ten thousand hearts will bless and shelter you.

Growth of brain, heart and conscience is nowhere more certainly assured. There is no one-sided development, as in purely intellectual work, but thought and sympathy go hand-in-hand. It is a home-like place for a woman’s soul to dwell in, this golden harvest field of Christian work.

I might enumerate the societies for Home and Foreign Missions, Indian Reform, Associated Charities, and many other attractive lines of work, but my present object is to win your attention to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union as the most promising field of labor and reward that can be named for 179 women, young or middle-aged or old. Let me tell you something of its history and aims as I gave it in “How to Win:”

The National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, with its fifty auxiliary State and eight Territorial Unions, besides that of the District of Columbia, is the largest society ever composed exclusively of women, and conducted entirely by them. It is now organized in every State and territory of the nation, and locally in all important towns and cities. Great Britain, Canada and Australia are also organized, and we have organized a World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

This society was founded through the agency of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of the United States in 1883. The National Union was organized in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1874, and is the sober second thought of the great Woman’s Temperance Crusade which swept over the country during the previous winter, and whose influence extended to lands beyond the sea. Scarcely was the organization of the National Society completed when the question arose, Why not have an International Woman’s Christian Temperance Union? At the Detroit Convention, held in 1883, the president urged, and the Plan of Work Committee recommended the appointment by the Executive Committee of a commission on a Plan of Organization of a World’s Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and in the same year Mrs. Mary Clement Leavitt received her appointment as pioneer missionary for the proposed organization. Through her untiring labors during the intervening years, supplemented by those of other missionaries who followed her later, and of individual workers in various nations, unions have been organized in more than forty countries and provinces. Mrs. Margaret Bright Lucas, of England, the first president, was elected in 1886.

The chief National Auxiliaries are those of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, South Africa, Japan and the Hawaiian Islands.

The first delegated Convention of the World’s Union, held in Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass., U. S. A., in 1891, adopted the following Declaration of Principles and form of Constitution and By-laws:

Declaration of Principles of the World’s W. C. T. U.

We believe in the coming of His Kingdom whose service is the highest liberty because His laws, written in our members as well as in nature and in grace, “are perfect, converting the soul.”

We believe in the gospel of the Golden Rule and that each man’s habits of life should be an example safe and beneficent for every other man.

We therefore formulate, and for ourselves adopt, the following pledge, asking our brothers of a common danger and a common hope to make common cause with us, in working its reasonable and helpful precepts into the practice of every-day life:


“I hereby solemnly promise, God helping me, to abstain from all Alcoholic Liquors, as beverages, whether distilled, fermented or malted; from opium in all its forms, and to employ all proper means to discourage the use of and traffic in the same.”

To confirm and enforce the rationale of the pledge, we declare our purpose to educate the young; to form a better public sentiment; to reform, so far as possible, by religious, ethical and scientific means, the drinking classes; to seek the transforming power of divine grace for ourselves and all for whom we work, that they and we may wilfully transcend no law of pure and wholesome living; and finally we pledge ourselves to labor and pray that all these principles, founded upon the Gospel of Christ, may be worked out into the Customs of Society and the Laws of the Land.

To this end we plead with all good women throughout Christendom to join with us heart and hand in the holy endeavor to protect and sanctify the Home as that temple of the Holy Spirit which, next to the human body itself, is dearest of all to our Creator; that womanhood and manhood in equal purity, equal personal liberty and peace, may climb to those blest heights where there shall be no more curse.

We ask all women like-minded with us in this sacred cause to wear the white ribbon as the badge of loyalty; to lift up their hearts with us to God at the noontide hour of prayer; to take as their motto, “For God and Home and Every Land,” and to unite with us in allegiance to the foregoing Declaration of Principles and to the summary of our plans and purposes, as embodied in the Preamble of our Constitution adopted in Faneuil Hall, Boston, U. S. A., November 11, 1891.

The Polyglot Petition.

A great petition has been circulated in all parts of the world against legalizing the sale of opium and alcohol, and in favor of an equal standard of personal purity for both sexes. This petition has been called “The Polyglot,” because translated into and signed in so many different languages. Over seven millions of names, either by signature or endorsement, have been secured to it. The length of the petition is 7000 yards. It is the largest petition ever presented on behalf of any object, and is the most international in its proposed reforms. Every prominent nation has had a share in signing it, and in due time it will be presented to all the leading governments. The Polyglot has recently been photographed, and it is hoped all White Ribboners will order copies from the W. W. C. T. U. Secretary. Catholic and Protestant, Gentile, Jew, Hindoo and Mohammedan have found in the Polyglot Petition a common ground of faith and works.


At the Women’s Temple, Chicago, is located the Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, a stock company, whose directors, stockholders and business manager are all women. This house sends out about 135,000,000 pages annually. The Union Signal, the official organ of the Union, has a large circulation in all parts of the world.

The Woman’s Temperance Hospital, located at 1619 Diversey avenue, Chicago, demonstrates the value of non-alcoholic medication.

The general officers of the World’s W. C. T. U. for 1897-98 are as follows: president, Miss Frances E. Willard; vice-president-at-large, Lady Henry Somerset; secretary, Miss Agnes E. Slack; assistant secretary, Miss Anna A. Gordon; treasurer, Mrs. Mary E. Sanderson.

The first round-the-world missionary was Mrs. Mary Clement Leavitt, of Boston. The second, Miss Jessie A. Ackermann, of California.

As a general estimate (the returns being altogether incomplete), we think the number of local unions in the United States about ten thousand, with a paid membership of one hundred and fifty thousand or more, and a following of three hundred thousand, besides numerous juvenile organizations. This society is the lineal descendant of the great Temperance Crusade of 1873-74, and is a union of Christian women of all churches, for the purpose of educating the young, forming a better public sentiment, reforming the drinking classes, transforming, by the power of divine grace, those who are enslaved by alcohol, and removing the dram-shop from our streets by law.

In the order of evolution, the departments of work are embraced under the following general classification: (1) Organizing; (2) Preventive; (3) Educational; (4) Evangelistic; (5) Social; (6) Legal.

Twenty-three years of constant study and experience have enabled us to reduce to a science the methods by which these departments have been made successful. These can be learned by active co-operation with the local society in your own town; by reading our weekly paper, The Union Signal (Chicago); “Do Everything” (our handbook); and by studying our national minutes and other practical helps, to be had by addressing Mrs. Kate L. Stevenson, Headquarters National W. C. T. U., Chicago. For a history of the origin and growth of this great movement, and some knowledge of its leaders, I refer you to my own book entitled “Woman and Temperance.” (Same address.)

Hundreds of women have already become experts in this branch of social science and religious activity. As organizers, national, State, district and country, they are kept constantly busy, and their income is provided by those for whom they labor. As local and State officers, salaries are often paid, but not as a rule, and in but one office of the national society. Nearly all these workers have learned to speak acceptably in public without manuscript or notes. They are 182 quiet, well-mannered, sensible women, who would compare favorably with the same number of teachers, artists, or musicians.

Among the noted speakers and workers of the W. C. T. U. in the last twenty-three years since the Crusade have been Mrs. Mary T. Lathrap, Mrs. Mary A. Woodbridge, Mrs. L. M. N. Stevens, Rev. Anna Shaw, Mrs. Mary H. Hunt, Mrs. Katharine Lente Stevenson, Mrs. Sallie F. Chapin, Mrs. Clara C. Hoffman, Mrs. Frances J. Barnes, Mrs. Helen M. Barker, Mrs. Louise S. Rounds, Mrs. Frances E. Beauchamp, Miss Belle Kearney, Mrs. S. M. I. Henry, Mrs. Helen L. Bullock, Mrs. Ella A. Boole, Mrs. Jennie F. Willing, Miss Anna A. Gordon, Mrs. Helen G. Rice, Mrs. J. K. Barney, Mrs. Addie Northam Fields, Mrs. Lucy Thurman, Miss Elizabeth W. Greenwood, Mrs. M. B. Ellis, Mrs. Caroline F. Grow and other women who devote their entire time and talent to building up this greatest of all women’s societies.

The White Ribbon Women have founded a publishing house and a hospital, the latter for the purpose of demonstrating the advantage of non-alcoholic medication. The Women’s Temple in Chicago is universally known as the headquarters of the Association, Mrs. Matilda B. Carse is its founder.

Indeed, the majority of our leaders have, at some time, been teachers, but found the profession of Gospel temperance workers broader, just as independent, and no less beneficent. By the efforts of our societies the teaching of physiology and hygiene, with special reference to the effects of alcoholic stimulants and narcotics, has already been introduced by law into the public schools of almost every State, and by the action of Congress into all the territories and the District of Columbia. Kindergarten (with temperance adaptations) is one of our departments, also kitchen garden, both departments, helping to prepare those who teach in them for the home cares, which later on, will come to most of our young workers. As corresponding secretaries of local unions, as private secretaries, clerks and accountants, many are supporting themselves and helping the greatest of reforms; others, as organizers of Young Women’s Christian Temperance Unions and Juvenile Societies. In our delightful “Flower Mission” there is great promise for willing hands, while our temperance, literature and press departments offer the widest field for cultured brain and skillful pen. As lecturers in our departments of heredity and hygiene many a young lady physician has added to her power, while girls who would gladly have studied for the ministry have found the door wide open in our Gospel temperance meeting, and credentials furnished by our department of evangelistic work.

The White Ribbon movement throughout the world stands pronounced for the ballot for women. This has been chiefly brought about through the influence and work of its president, who began the agitation in 1876. In 1886 she urged the adoption of the department of purity and was made its superintendent. This 183 has now developed into a great movement attached to the W. C. T. U.; Dr. Mary Wood Allen, of Ann Arbor, Mich., is the present superintendent.

Dear younger sisters, think about these things. They are “true, pure, lovely, and of good report.” Talk them over in your literary society, your Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, your quiet hour with loved ones at home. We want you, and perhaps you have need of us. Before long we shall establish a training school with model Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, model juvenile society, kindergarten, kitchen garden, etc. If you should apply in sufficiently large numbers I am confident some wealthy temperance friend would help us to a “local habitation” for this use, but we have already begun with summer training schools at several pleasant summer resorts. Lake Bluff is one of these, near Chicago, on the shore of Lake Michigan. Having been so many years a teacher, before enlisting in this grand Woman’s Christian Temperance Union work, I have long meditated sending out this invitation to “sweet girl graduates” and any others to whom it might be like a friend’s hand pointing to a safe and helpful avocation.

May our blessed Master lead you wisely to decide the question of your work “for God and home and native land.”

group of rocks surrounded by low shrubs

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXVIII

skip to next chapter

As the author says at the top of page 179, parts of this chapter were adapted from the chapter “Aimless Reverie versus a Resolute Aim” in How to Win.

learn what manner of spirit he is of
[In the circumstances, “spirit” seems an unfortunate choice of words.]

certain to all faithful and efficient workers
text has efficent

with its fifty auxiliary State and eight Territorial Unions
[The figure becomes more impressive when you recall that in 1897 there were only forty-five states—including Utah, which was admitted in 1896 and which probably did not offer much scope for the WCTU. In How to Win (1887), there were thirty-eight State Unions, corresponding to the actual number of states. (A whopping six were admitted between November 1889 and July 1890: the four High Plains states, plus Idaho and Washington.)]

The Women’s Temple in Chicago is universally known as the head­quarters of the Association, Mrs. Matilda B. Carse is its founder
punctuation unchanged


woman bringing food to ragged family of mother and four children






 BELIEVE—indeed, this is one of the chief articles of my creed of living—that no one was sent into this world without a work to do; there is nothing without its mission in the whole catalogue of created things, and it is not likely that we, “made in the image of God,” and “only a little lower than the angels,” will be exempt from our share of usefulness. What the special life-work of each may be, depends entirely on surroundings and opportunities. Each one must decide for herself what her duties are, and in what manner she can perform them to the best advantage.

Golden opportunities present themselves every day to all, if they only would use them, but either they do not see them, or in their careless indolence they pass them by, not attaching the proper importance to them. The trouble is, girls, nearly every one is inclined to “despise the day of small things,” and wants, if she is to work at all, to do something grand and startling, out of the common course, that will astonish the world; and in her lookout for the grand opportunities that so seldom come, she may lose many ways of doing real good. Not all can be representative women or do grand, heroic deeds, but each one can work quietly and unostentatiously, carrying the deeds of kindness into everyday life and making herself better and every one around her happier by the influence of a consistent, lovely, unselfish life.

But because you have a work to do and life is earnest and you are to be in earnest with it, you need not go through it with knit brows, as though you were puzzling over some perplexing question in mathematics. Not a bit of it! You should carry so much sunshine in your hearts that it will shine through your eyes and brighten your faces. The world needs all the sunshine it can get, and you 186 have got to help make it. Clouds will come sometimes, as a matter of course, but they need not come as frequently as they do if you would not let them; you often make your own clouds, let trifles annoy you, grow impatient and fretful at small troubles and render yourself and everybody else uncomfortable by your unhappy mood. Clear away the clouds—you can do it by a little patient endeavor and some consideration for the comfort of others.

Less of self and more for others, and your work is well begun; after that, once fairly started on the upward way, your progress will be easier; you will find your field of labor extending before you are aware that you have begun your task, and with each day’s duties will come new love and interest in your work.

You must have aims, each one of you, not clearly defined, perhaps, vague and but half realized, it may be, yet there notwithstanding, latent in your mind and only waiting opportunities to form themselves into some tangible shape and show you clearly in what particular channel your life-work lies. Even to the most aimless of you there comes a time when you recognize the fact that there is something beyond your every-day life with its petty annoyances and wearying trials, and you long to do some act that shall raise you above the present level of your life. No life is perfected without some grand motive power, some definite end which you wish to attain. Otherwise it would not be living, but mere existence—something which animals have in common with you, but which is in no whit beyond animal life; nay, it is rather below it; for they use to their best the powers that are given them, while you willfully let run to waste the energies and talents that belong to you, either through indifference, or because you are too lazy to exert yourselves, and do not care to do more than you are at present accomplishing, which is nothing at all; worse than nothing; for you cannot stand still—you must either advance or recede, grow or dwarf.

There are girls—I hope you who read are not among them—who have every gift that one could ask bestowed upon them, yet treat them as indifferently as if they were things to be thrown carelessly one side, and who live on as if life held nothing beyond the present moment, their to-morrow nothing grander or greater than their to-day. One looks at such girls and wonders; they are anomalies. One feels sorry for them and grieves over their wasted lives; they must sometimes have a longing for something that is more satisfactory, a perception that there is a height that they have not yet attained, a possibility that by and by may become a living reality, and they may glow with a desire to attain this in their better moments. But this desire is only a flash; it goes out again when blown upon by the cold breath of their social surroundings, and it may be a long, wasted time before it is rekindled.

But while there is this class of girls, there is another at the other extreme—girls who want a career, who long to become bright lights in the world, to do 187 something that shall make them famous forever—who cannot comprehend what a vast amount of good can be done in a quiet, unostentatious way, but think every attempted work of philanthropy or reform must be begun and carried on with a blowing of trumpets and beating of drums, a sort of advertisement of their work, just as the side shows at the country fair draw their spectators in numbers proportioned to the noise they make at the entrance. These girls are in advance of the others, for a thing is better overdone than not done at all, though they too are sadly at fault. The danger is, that these girls, finding themselves falling far short of their mark, and seeing others succeed quietly where they fail noisily, get disgusted, and fall out of the ranks of the workers, crying out that they are not appreciated! The simple truth is, they were working for the world’s approval, entirely ignoring the fact that the truest reward was the approval of their own consciences and the trusting, restful belief in the approval of that Higher Power, for whom their work should be done.

It is satisfactory to do something grand enough and brilliant enough to win the applause of the world and make it acknowledge you and your achievement, but as I have told you already, you cannot all be representative women; yet none the less can your lives be filled or your influence felt. What you are, more than what you do or say, gives others their ideas of you, and when they see a life full to the brim of charity, good-will and gentleness, recognize a soul whose aspirations are pure and noble, they feel that they are the better and the happier for coming so in contact with that beautiful life. It may be the name is never breathed beyond the little circle of home and friends. To those who do not know the wearer, it would signify nothing; yet there are those to whom it is a perpetual song of praise, a never-ending hymn of thanksgiving. It is never seen in the list of the reformers, yet none the less does she who bears it do her own quiet work of rescue, reformation and redemption. To stranger eyes there may be no glory of sainthood throwing a halo around the beloved head, but those who know her best see the aureole shining there. Is not her work as complete, her life as grand a success, as though her name were trumpeted to all the world?

To you all a life like this is a possibility, something to which you may attain. It cannot be reached at once, but you might get a long way toward it while you are folding your hands and lamenting your inability to do what some one else has done before you, whose life-work lay in quite a different direction from your own. Girls, you whose brains have turned with all sorts of impracticable, quixotic schemes, stop dreaming of impossibilities, and instead of being mere castle-builders, become actual workers and do not think because you cannot be Joan of Arc, Madame Roland or Florence Nightingale, that there is nothing for you to do. There may be a moral heroism in overcoming yourself, greater than any you have ever read in the pages of history. It may be known only to God and yourself; 188 yet whose approval would you rather have than His? Is there anything beyond that to care for? Can the world’s praise heighten your pleasure or give more depth to your satisfaction?

And you who do not care, please give the matter a little thought. Your lives do not satisfy you. There is a longing for something better than has yet been brought you. Mere existence is not sufficient. You cannot feel that you are fulfilling the grand plan of your being. How shall you do it? First of all, let every one try to make her own life so sweet and sunny that her influence will be felt on all around, and after that, the other opportunities will come as fast as you can use them. They may not be large ones, but whatever they are, take them up and do them faithfully, because being set to your hand, it is for your hand to do them.

small boad drawn up on a riverbank

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXIX

This chapter is adapted from “Our Aims” in the “A Girl’s Talk to Girls” series, originally published in The Ladies’ Repository for November 1869.





HE first of the professions to be invaded by women was the medical. Now the name of a woman physician is to be seen in almost every city block in any of what are known as “physicians’ districts,” and almost every town of size has at least one woman on its list of medical practitioners.

The first woman to graduate from a medical school was Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. Her sister, Dr. Emily Blackwell, dean of the Medical College of the New York Infirmary, was the second. The story of the difficulty of gaining a proper medical education is well told by the latter of the Blackwell sisters. She says that to appreciate the advance which women have made in the medical profession one must go back forty years, to the time when not only had no woman in America written “M. D.” after her name, but women graduates in any department of study were almost unheard-of. Diplomas, advanced courses of instruction, were then things entirely outside of the ordinary life of woman. It is difficult for students of the present day to realize the narrowness of the then existing opportunities for intellectual cultivation, not only in the absence of college courses, but in the comparative slightness in the scope and quality of instruction in the girls’ schools of that time.

But aspirations for a higher life were in the air. Miss Lyon, Mrs. Willard, Catherine Beecher, and other pioneers in the education of women, had begun their work, and less conspicuous women all over the country were beginning to give expression to the coming demands. The entrance of women into the medical profession must be reckoned from the time when a woman first obtained admission to a medical college to pursue the course of study required by law as a preparation for the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with the legal authority to practice and the 190 professional recognition as a physician which the degree confers. This dates from the admission of Elizabeth Blackwell to the Geneva Medical College in 1848.

When, a few years earlier, she began to make inquiries, and asked advice of physicians as to how to accomplish her purpose, she was met on all sides by incredulous and contemptuous amazement and discouragement. In 1848 she addressed letters to several medical colleges asking permission to matriculate as a student. By most of them no notice of the application was taken. Others simply declined. From one only, the Geneva Medical College of New York, a favorable answer was received.

How this answer came to be given was told Miss Emily Blackwell by Mr. Stephen Smith, of New York, and it shows how quixotic an undertaking it was then regarded. Mr. Smith said:

“The first course of medical lectures which I attended was in a medical college in the interior of the State. The class numbering about 150 students, was composed largely of young men from the neighboring towns. They were rude, boisterous, and riotous beyond comparison. On several occasions the residents of the neighborhood sent written protests to the faculty, threatening to have the college indicted as a nuisance if the disturbance did not cease. During lectures it was often almost impossible to hear the professors, owing to the confusion.

“Some weeks after the course began, the dean appeared before the class with a letter in his hand, which he craved the indulgence of the students to be allowed to read. Anticipation was extreme when he announced that it contained the most extraordinary request which had ever been made to the faculty. The letter was written by a physician of Philadelphia, who requested the faculty to admit as a student a lady who was studying medicine in his office. He stated that she had been refused admission by several medical colleges, but as this institution was in the country, he thought it more likely to be free from prejudice against a woman medical student. The dean stated that the faculty had taken action on the communication, and directed him to report their conclusion to the class. They decided to leave the matter in the hands of the class, with this understanding, that if any single pupil objected to her, a negative reply would be returned. It subsequently appeared that the faculty did not intend to admit her, but wished to escape giving a direct refusal by referring the question to the class.


scene in operating room, with bearded male doctors and young female nurses


“But the whole affair assumed the most ridiculous aspect to the class, and the announcement was received with the most uproarious demonstrations of favor. A meeting was called for the evening, which was attended by every member. The resolution approving the admission of the lady was sustained by a number of most extravagant speeches, which were enthusiastically cheered. The vote was taken, with what seemed to be one unanimous yell, ‘yes.’ When the negative was called, a single voice was heard uttering a timid ‘no.’ The scene that followed 192 passes description. A general rush was made for the corner of the room which emitted the voice, and the recalcitrant member was only too glad to acknowledge his error and record his vote in the affirmative. The faculty received the decision of the class with evident disfavor, but returned an answer admitting the woman student. Two weeks or more elapsed, and as she did not appear, the incident of her application was quite forgotten, and the class continued in its riotous career.

“One morning, all unexpectedly, a lady entered the lecture room with the professor. She was quite small of stature, plainly dressed, appeared diffident and retiring, but had a firm and determined expression of face. Her entrance into that Bedlam of confusion acted like magic upon every student. Each hurriedly sought his seat, and the most absolute silence prevailed. For the first time a lecture was given without the slightest interruption, and every word could be heard as distinctly as if there had been but a single person in the room. The sudden transformation of this class from a band of lawless desperadoes to gentlemen, by the mere presence of a woman, proved to be permanent in its effects. A more orderly class of medical students was never seen than this, and it continued to be till the close of the term.

“Our woman student came up for examination for graduation at the close of the term, and took rank with the best students of the class. As this was the first instance of the granting of a medical diploma to a woman in this country, so far as the faculty had information, there was at first some hesitation about conferring the degree. But it was finally decided to take the novel step, and in the honor list of the roll of graduates for that year appears the name, Elizabeth Blackwell.”

Notwithstanding the amusement the application seemed to have caused, the letter of the faculty admitting the woman student was accompanied by a handsome letter from the class assuring her that there should be nothing on their part to make her position difficult. And they kept their word. Any annoyance she experienced came from outside. The ladies at her boarding-house ignored her presence. Those passing her in the street not infrequently testified their disapprobation by manner, even by remarks. She often felt when the college doors closed behind her, that she had entered a refuge.

When the degree of Doctor was taken, the first phase only of a medical education was completed. The hospitals in which the student must acquire familiarity with the practical part of the profession were absolutely closed to the young woman doctor. Her only chance to seek such opportunities was in the great medical centres of Europe, and again she was discouraged on all hands by assertions of the impossibility of a woman studying without insult among the crowds of foreign students. But she was not to be diverted, and true to her intention, she went abroad, and after three years of successful studies in Europe, 193 Dr. Blackwell returned and established herself in practice in New York. The new departure was made.

Immediately after her graduation a few women were admitted to other medical colleges. Invariably so much pressure was put by the medical societies upon any college admitting a woman, that the doors of that particular college were henceforth closed. Exclusion from all medical institutions became the settled policy. Separate colleges for women were promptly established, Boston taking the lead in 1850, and Philadelphia following in the same year. And yet, not all men were opposed to this new departure. As early as 1845 Dr. Samuel Gregory, in connection with his brother, Mr. George Gregory, published pamphlets advocating the education and employment of women physicians. In 1847 he delivered a series of public lectures upon the subject, and proposed the opening of a school for the purpose. In 1848 a class of twelve women was formed, under the instruction of Dr. Enoch C. Rolfe and Dr. William M. Cornell. An association styled the “American Female Medical Education Society” was organized the same year, and afterward merged in the New England Female Medical College, chartered in 1856, which still owns valuable property and has many facilities for its work.

In 1854 the doctors, Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, obtained a certificate of incorporation for the New York Infirmary, the first, and for many years the only, beginning of a woman’s hospital.

Now followed the period of the greatest depression for the new effort. The first women students had, to a certain extent, the advantage of the great system of instruction organized for men. Their immediate successors were restricted to the facilities afforded them by the small women’s schools. The adverse sentiment which closed the college influenced unfavorably the growth of the schools. Some of the medical societies declared that physicians teaching in these schools should be excluded from their ranks. The unfriendly tone of the profession was that of the general public. Social and professional ostracism was the rule in regard to both students and teachers. When Dr. Blackwell established herself in New York she was obliged to purchase a house, because she found it impossible to rent reputable rooms. When, in 1857, the indoor department of the infirmary was opened, under the charge of Dr. Zakrewska as resident physician, many of the friends feared that the little hospital would come to grief. Some of the trustees were remonstrated with by their friends for allowing their names to be connected with an institution that would cause scandal and trouble.

That opinions have changed since those early days and that, after all, the correctness or propriety of anything depends upon our own standpoint toward it, is shown by the following little incident which happened at the Boston home of this same Dr. Zakrewska after she had left Dr. Blackwell’s hospital and started 194 into practice for herself. Her home was the centre of attraction for all the women medical students of Boston, and they were always welcome there. Living with Dr. Zakrewska, as housekeeper, was her widowed sister who had a little daughter about six years of age. This little one was a pet among the girl meds., as the students were familiarly called. It happened that her mother took her one day to see her dentist. At dinner the little girl seemed much absorbed and neglected to eat. Dr. Zakrewska said to her, “What’s the matter, little one? Why don’t you eat your soup?”

“Oh, Auntie,” was the child’s reply, “what do you think? I went with mamma to see Dr. —— and that doctor was a man!”

The idea that a doctor could be anything but a woman was as strange to this child, brought up among women physicians, as it was to the men physicians of fifty years ago that a doctor could be anything but a man. So you see, after all, it is only a question of standpoint.

Mrs. Clemence S. Lozier was one of the first women to study medicine. She was a native of Plainfield, N. J., her mother was a Quaker, a woman who had a natural love for tending the sick, and good qualifications for doing so. Her elder brother was a doctor of repute in New York. In 1830 she married Mr. A. W. Lozier. His health soon failing, she opened a select school in West Tenth Street. She continued here for eleven years, introducing into her school the study of physiology, anatomy and hygiene. She was the first to teach these branches to girls. During this time she read medical works under her brother’s direction. When her scholars were ill, she would generally be called before the physician, and in ordinary cases she was the sole reliance. She also prescribed for many poor. Her husband died in 1837, but it was not until she was thirty-five years old, in 1849, that she regularly attended medical lectures. She graduated at Syracuse Eclectic College, having been refused by all others, on the ground that no woman student could be received. Returning to New York, she entered at once into regular and successful practice.

Struggles such as those of the Doctors Blackwell and Dr. Lozier are over. The girl has now no trouble to gain admission into the best medical colleges. They are open to her all the country over. It is only to will to study, and to do it.

Hundreds of women physicians have a large and lucrative practice. Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, the wife of an equally renowned physician, has her office thronged with patients. It is said there are as many in her waiting-room as in her husband’s. Dr. Ella Mark, of Baltimore, one of the younger women in the profession, is earning fame and reputation by her skill. These are only a few of the hundreds of successful women practitioners in this country alone.

Women are now becoming specialists. A few have taken a step in the right direction, in becoming oculists. The Emperor of Austria has lately authorized 195 Madam Reba Kershbaumer to practice as an oculist. In Strasburg the Princess Hohenlohe and her daughter Elizabeth have taken a practical course in military hospital nursing, assisting at operations, amputations, cleansing and bandaging wounds.

In Buffalo, N. Y., Dr. Lilian Craig Randall, with a corps of woman assistants, has opened a surgical hospital for women. Dr. Randall is possessed of great firmness and decision of character, together with a gentle and most womanly heart. She believed that such a hospital as she proposed could obviate many of the distressing features connected with surgery, where sensitive women are the patients. As soon as it was made clear that her enterprise was in no way an aggressive attempt on the part of women to usurp the place and work of man, but merely the result of an earnest desire to fill a long-felt want where women were so often the sufferers, the new enterprise received the hearty good-will and co-operation of all. It has had a steady growth and been from the first entirely self-supporting.

It has taken courage and faith and self-devotion in the pioneer workers to struggle through the long day of small things, but the result of their labors is shown in the stable and influential institutions into which these small beginnings have grown and the right of way which is given to women in this profession as though her choosing it always had been a matter of course.


Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXX

skip to next chapter

European readers may wonder at the entire omission of midwives, both here and when we get to Trained Nurses (Chapter LXI). By the time this book was written, midwifery as a medical profession had been entirely obliterated in the US; it would not be revived until the late 20th century.

and it continued to be till the close of the term.
. missing

a handsome letter from the class assuring her that there should be nothing on their part to make her position difficult
[Who would have guessed that young men in rural New York State could have better self-discipline than young urban Scotsmen of some decades later?]

not until she was thirty-five years old, in 1849
[Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier (1813–1888) was born in December, so she was only sixteen when she married.]

A few have taken a step in the right direction, in becoming oculists.
[Following the example of Doctor Victoria.]





HE last presidential election showed a remarkable increase over other elections in the number of women who did active work in the political field. This was so noticeable that not a few persons have commented on the fact as one of the most significant proofs during the last few years of the rapidly widening scope of woman’s influence. Each of the several parties had its feminine advocates. Mrs. J. Ellen Foster, of Washington, was at the head of the Woman’s National Republican Association of America. In the various States the same organization had active and able leaders, Miss Helen Varick Boswell being State President for New York. In the West women have been particularly prominent in political work. In New England several prominent women actively championed the gold cause, while Mrs. Elizabeth Sheldon Tillinghast, the daughter of Judge Sheldon, of New Haven, Conn., proved herself an eloquent speaker in behalf of free silver. The Prohibition party has for years counted many noble women among its most earnest workers, and has repeatedly inserted a plank in its platform stating that it believes educational qualifications, and not sex, should regulate the elective franchise. The labor and socialistic movements have devoted and able women among their speakers and leaders.


photograph of Mary A. Livermore in ornamental frame


All this is of comparatively recent origin, though. Mrs. Lucy Stone, speaking of this in Boston not many years ago, reviewed the developments of forty years. In speaking of the first National Woman’s Rights Convention, which had met just forty years before, some of the things Mrs. Stone said were:


“Forty years ago, when our convention met in Worcester, the papers far and wide laughed at it as a ‘hen convention.’ That was what they called it. One of the gains between that time and this is that women can meet and sit in convention and find themselves fairly and well reported.

“Among the first and best gains that have been accorded to us is free speech for women. Up to that time and before it, the women speakers had been hailed with mobs, brickbats and stones. When I held a meeting in Malden, Mass., the pastor of the Orthodox Congregational Church, being asked to give notice of the meeting (this meeting was under the auspices of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society; William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips were officers of the Society), this minister in Malden held the notice up before his face, and he said, ‘I am requested by Mr. Mowry to say that a hen will undertake to crow like a cock at the Town Hall this afternoon at five o’clock. Anybody who wants to hear that kind of music will, of course, attend.’ So unpopular and unwelcome was the idea of a woman speaking in public, that, after years of effort by Angelina and Sarah Grimké and Abby Kelley, that was the welcome that came to a younger worker. The consequence was, I had a very large meeting. Everybody came, and Mr. Mowry was asked what kind of a hen it was, and all about it; and altogether it was a very good advertisement of the meeting.

“Then see the different tone of the press. Deacon Samuel Bowles, editor and founder of the Springfield Republican, a most excellent man, said of me in his own paper, ‘You she-hyena, don’t you come here!’ To-day the Springfield Republican is one of the staunchest advocates of woman suffrage, and it publishes a department every week concerning woman and her interests.”

In the times of anti-slavery agitation women exerted a strong influence in politics, often amid scenes of great excitement. Mrs. Stone was a little woman with an attractive face and a sweet voice. It is told of her that once, at an anti-slavery meeting held on Cape Cod, in a grove, in the open air, a platform had been erected for the speakers, and a crowd assembled; but a crowd so menacing in aspect and with so evident an intention of violence, that the speakers one by one came down from the stand and slipped quietly away, till none were left but Stephen Foster and Lucy Stone. She said, “You had better run, Stephen; they are coming!” He answered, “But who will take care of you?” At that moment the mob made a rush for the platform, and a big man sprang up on it swinging a club. She turned to him and said without hesitation, “This gentleman will take care of me.” He declared that he would. He tucked her under one arm, and holding his club with the other, marched her out through the crowd, who were roughly handling Mr. Foster and such of the other speakers as they had been able to catch. Her representation so prevailed upon him that he mounted her on a stump and stood by her with his club while she addressed the mob. They were 199 so moved by her speech that they not only desisted from further violence, but took up a collection of twenty dollars to pay Stephen Foster for his coat, which they had torn in two from top to bottom.

In 1869 Mrs. Stone, with William Lloyd Garrison, George William Curtis, Colonel T. W. Higginson, Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, Mrs. Mary A. Livermore and others, organized the American Woman Suffrage Association. From that time until now the cause of woman’s suffrage and the interest of women in politics generally has steadily increased, although not without the opposition and disapproval of many of the same sex.

Sixty years ago women could not vote anywhere. In 1845 Kentucky gave school suffrage to widows. In 1861 Kansas gave it to all women. In 1869 England gave municipal suffrage to single women and widows and Wyoming gave full suffrage to all women. School suffrage was granted in 1875 by Michigan and Minnesota, in 1876 by Colorado, in 1878 by New Hampshire and Oregon, in 1879 by Massachusetts, in 1880 by New York and Vermont. In 1881 municipal suffrage was extended to the single women and widows of Scotland. Nebraska gave school suffrage in 1883 and Wisconsin in 1885. In 1886 school suffrage was given in Washington and municipal suffrage to single women and widows in New Brunswick and Ontario. In 1887 municipal suffrage was extended to all women in Kansas and school suffrage in North and South Dakota, Montana, Arizona and New Jersey. In 1891 school suffrage was granted in Illinois. In 1892 municipal suffrage was extended to single women and widows in the Province of Quebec. In 1893 school suffrage was granted in Connecticut and full suffrage in Colorado and New Zealand. In 1894 school suffrage was granted in Ohio, a limited municipal suffrage in Iowa, and parish and district suffrage in England to women both married and single. In 1895 full suffrage was granted in South Australia to women both married and single. In 1896 full suffrage was granted to women in Utah and Idaho.

The first petition for woman suffrage presented to Parliament, in 1867, was signed by only 1499 women. The petition of 1873 was signed by 11,000 women. The petition presented to the members of the present Parliament was signed by 257,000 women.

The well-known newspaper correspondent, Harold Frederic, says, “The question may be one at which many politicians smile, but the steadily increasing support it receives cannot be denied by any careful student.”

Naturally, it is in the four Western States of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho, where suffrage is absolutely free, that women have become most prominent in politics. The Colorado House of Representatives for 1897 contained four women members. They acquitted themselves of their duties creditably and with dignity. One bill in connection with which they did specially good work was 200 that for the establishment of a separate reformatory for women. An observer of this branch of the Colorado Legislature wrote:

“The lower house outranks the Senate in the serious decorum of legislative deliberation. The few women who sit as members in the representative hall of the beautiful Colorado capitol seem unconsciously to impose upon its proceedings a greater regard for the amenities of speech and conduct than is observed in the upper house, where there are, as yet, no women to be considered.”

The office of chairman of the Committee on Printing, of the same Legislature, was filled by Mrs. Conine, one of these women, and so efficiently that the cost to the State for the printing for the session was $2000 less than ever before.

Mrs. A. J. Peavy, State Superintendent of Public Institutions for Colorado, proved herself a woman of strength and ability. The office sought her, and not she the office. Her administration was characterized by thoroughness, economy and honesty.

A similar record was made by the County Superintendents. Twenty-six women occupied these positions to thirty men.

Wyoming has had for some time a successful State Superintendent of Public Instruction in the person of Miss Estelle M. Reel.

In city politics the women of Denver particularly distinguished themselves in 1897. In the spring of that year the Civic Federation, consisting of about 10,000 women, conceived a plan to call a convention and put out a non-partisan ticket for the municipal election of April. A single organization not being strong enough to carry an independent ticket, the Civic Federation accepted the invitation of the Tax-payers’ League and joined forces in an effort to secure a ticket in the interest of good government. The Tax-payers’ League was organized as a revolt against gang rule, and its platform received the endorsement of the Civic Federation in 1895. Both organizations stand for Home Rule and the interest of the people as against the control of corporations. The call for the convention was issued conjointly by the Civic Federation and Tax-payers’ League and when the election occurred their candidates were elected.

The convention which was the result of this movement assembled in the Chamber of Commerce Hall at 10 o’clock, February 25. Mrs. Frank Hall, president of the Civic Federation, was chosen temporary chairman, and presided until the convention was organized. The delegates, numbering more than a hundred, represented the best elements in the city—ministers, lawyers, physicians, labor men, trades assembly, etc. Women constituted about half the delegates. At the Silver Republican Convention, held a week later, a score of women were delegates.

The following account of an election in Denver is interesting. It was written by a woman who was not herself in favor of women voting:


“I went from polling place to polling place in the lower part of the city. I did not see one person under the influence of liquor. Every saloon in the town seemed closed. The polling places were invariably clean, and in perfectly approachable buildings. There were no crowds, and no disorder of any kind. The women were treated with absolute courtesy in every way. I saw not the slightest sign of that contempt which is said by opponents of suffrage to come with too much familiarity. Neither did I see the little self-consciousness which marks the ordinary woman in the ordinary crowd. The women seemed serious and straightforward.”

While it is not the purpose of this article to give prominence to any special movement, but to speak of women in politics in general, it is interesting since woman suffragists are generally most active in politics, to read what certain well-known men and women think of the suffrage question.

Clara Barton, in speaking to the soldiers, said:

“When you were weak and I was strong, I toiled for you. Now you are strong and I am weak. Because of my work for you I ask your aid. I ask the ballot for myself and my sex. As I stood by you, I pray you stand by me and mine.”

Hon. John M. Long, Secretary of the Navy, said:

“Somebody says few women would vote if enfranchised. Well, it often happens in an election that more than half the men refuse to vote. But if one man or woman wants to exercise the right to vote, what earthly reason is there for denying it, because other men and women do not wish to exercise it? If I desire to breathe the fresh air of heaven, shall I not cross my threshold because the rest of the family group prefer the stale atmosphere indoors?”

Hon. George F. Hoar, United States Senator, said:

“If any person deems the franchise a burden and not a privilege, such a person is under no constraint to exercise it. But, if it be a birthright, then it is obvious that no other person than the individual concerned can rightfully restrain its exercise. The committee concede that women ought to be clothed with the suffrage in any State where any considerable part of the women desire it. This is a pretty serious confession. What has become of the argument that women are unfit to vote?”

The names of the women who have been prominent in politics are too many in number to be included with any degree of completeness in an article like this. One thinks of Miss Susan B. Anthony, who years ago declared her constitutional right to vote, in New York State, voted in spite of the law, and was arrested and fined. The fine was never collected, but the courts decided that women did not have the right under the Constitution to vote.

Mary Elizabeth Lease, of Kansas, has proved one of the most eloquent speakers, and has perhaps come to be quite as well known throughout the country 202 as any other of the “new women” of whom she speaks so earnestly. Two quotations from Mrs. Lease show her picturesque power with words.

“The hands on the dial plate of time mark the hour for a new dispensation. The Samson of soul power is shaking the pillars of material authority. In these later days the phrase ‘new woman’ has become strangely familiar. . . . . Looking into the soul life of the world we find abundant evidence that the new woman, new in a much higher sense than many can now perceive, is here, a prime factor in the world’s redemption.”

“Then strong in faith the hour abide.

Light, Truth and Love, the battle-ground,

For every wind and every tide

That pulses all the wide world round,

Shall start the languid pulse of time,

Shall beat and surge in rhythmic song.

All hail! the New Woman for whose love

The world hath hungered long.”

Mrs. Anna E. Diggs and Mrs. Anna Waite are prominent Populist leaders among the women of Kansas. The latter edits a paper in Ellsworth. Mrs. Laura M. Johns, of Salina, Kan., is a Republican worker. Mrs. Judge Henderson, the wife of a former Senator from Missouri, took an active part in the last campaign as a gold standard Republican.

Mrs. Belva A. Lockwood, for many years a practicing lawyer in Washington, came prominently into public notice as a presidential candidate in the campaign in which Cleveland was first elected.

It is much to the credit of our sex, however, that their most important political work has been done in and for the Prohibition Party. This party was founded some twenty-five years ago, and from the first has stood not only for the prohibition of the liquor traffic, but for the full enfranchisement of women. Its record has been that of an educator of other parties, although it has elected some candidates, and has had tickets in the field in almost every State in the Union. So far as can be learned the highest number of votes yet polled is three hundred thousand. Women have served on its executive committee, and on that small central committee which manages its affairs; they have been delegates to its convention, and have received every recognition. At the last presidential campaign the Prohibition Party left out all its previous planks except that relating to the liquor traffic, which caused a division, and about one-third of the delegates, led by Governor St. John, of Kansas, adjourned to another hall and formed the Liberal Party, which makes women’s ballot part and parcel of the movement, because it is believed that the ballot in the hand of women means prohibition.

The white ribbon women of the country sympathize strongly with this wing of the party, but inasmuch as the Prohibition Party had a resolution for the 203 ballot, although it did not at this particular convention include the subject in its platform, the W. C. T. U. is loyal to both these parties, and its influence is in favor of their being merged in one as before. They have been requested by the white ribbon women to change their name to Home Protection Party, because this name indicates precisely what all the temperance forces of the country are working for.

The names which have been given above are only a few of those which the history of the last few years have made prominent, and although the turmoil of political life may fail to attract some women, may even for a time, at least, repel them, the passing years have shown that here, as in so many other fields, the opportunities for women to work, and to make their influence felt, have vastly increased.

affluent family in private railway car

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXI

till none were left but Stephen Foster and Lucy Stone
[New Hampshire’s abolitionist Stephen Symonds Foster (1809–1881), no relation to Pennsylvania’s songwriter Stephen Collins Foster (1826–1864).]





N no profession which woman has entered has she encountered such bitter opposition as was shown her when she tried the ministry. Much as those had endured who in the earlier days became medical students, it was slight compared to the obloquy showered upon those who sought entrance to the schools of theology. They were assailed by pulpit and press. St. Paul was quoted to them, their opponents meanwhile overlooking, in teaching the letter of the Apostle, the spirit of Christ, which was revealed to women as well as to men. But the barriers of prejudice were at length broken down, for a few strong, fearless men gave the benefit of their influence to the women, and now the woman minister is no unusual sight, and her ministrations are followed in almost every case by blessed results.

The Universalist Church has from the first welcomed woman to its councils, and has accorded to her the fullest liberty in the exercise of her powers in its service. Maria Cook and Lydia Jenkins, both of New York State, were the first women who are known to have preached Universalism. They preached for a short time in the early part of this century, though neither of them sought ordination. Olympia Brown was the first woman upon whom ordination was conferred. This occurred directly after her graduation from the Canton Theological School in 1863. There are sixty-five women in the ministry of the Universalist Church.

There are more than twenty women in this country who are pastors, not preachers merely, but settled pastors over Unitarian churches, and they are uniformly successful. The president of the Iowa Unitarian Association, Rev. Miss Safford, is one of the most conspicuous women pastors. Still another is the 205 Rev. Mary P. Whitney, of the Unity Church, South Boston. She is not only an able pastor, but a woman of force in church councils; and the same may be said of the Rev. Florence L. Pierce, of Pomona, Cal.; the Rev. Harriet D. Boynton, who, with her husband, is settled at Roslindale, Mass.

The Congregational Church of to-day draws no line of eligibility to pastoral ordination between men and women. According to the latest pastoral lists, however, there are only seventeen ordained women preachers in the Congregational Church. Half a dozen of them are in the New England States, the majority are stationed in the far West.

The Methodist Episcopal Church refused to ordain women as preachers. But licenses have been granted to many, Mrs. Jennie Fowler Willing, sister of Bishop Fowler, and Mrs. Mary T. Lathrop being the most prominent. It can be but a little time before this church, usually so broad and liberal in its views regarding women, will wheel into line and ordain those who desire to become preachers of the Word of God. Certainly there are no more devoted women in the world than those belonging to the Methodist Church.

While the women preachers of the Methodist Church are more properly evangelists, yet many have gained for themselves the name of able preachers, in the full sense of the term. Mrs. Maggie Van Cott has been for many years engaged in active evangelistic work in almost every State of the Union. Other well-known women preachers of the Methodist denomination are Mary Sparkes Wheeler, of Philadelphia; Grace Weiser Davis, of Jersey City; and Mrs. E. O. Robinson, of Indianapolis, and many evangelists of the W. C. T. U.

Rev. Anna Howard Shaw graduated from the theological department of the Boston University with high honors in 1878, and served the Methodist Episcopal Church at Hingham, Mass., for a year. Her second pastorate was at East Dennis, Cape Cod, where she faithfully discharged her duties for several years. The “fault of being a woman” prevented the Methodist Episcopal Church from granting her ordination, notwithstanding her long and useful services, so in 1880 she applied to the Protestant Methodist Church and was regularly installed a minister of that denomination.

A prominent woman minister in Greater New York is the Rev. Alice K. Wright. She and her husband are co-workers in a parish just outside the city limits. They graduated in the same class at the Canton Seminary, were consecrated together, then married. In speaking of her work Mrs. Wright says:

“I make the young people my specialty, and they come to me for advice and counsel. I am the confidante of almost every young man and girl in our congregation, and I am kept busy straightening out the many unhappy tangles into which young people fall so easily. The older people go to my husband with their difficulties, but I find that he often turns them over to me when there is a 206 particularly delicate case to handle, or when the persons concerned require an extra amount of sympathy and patience. This is the one thing that makes the life of a woman minister more difficult than that of a man. Being a woman, she is expected to have an extra supply of those two qualities—patience and sympathy—and to have them ready for immediate use on every occasion. But I love the work, and am doing everything in my power to encourage more women to enter the ministry. During the ages of woman’s bondage she developed many characteristics which unfitted her for useful service in the new fields of labor to which she is now called. Our most successful leaders had much to overcome within themselves while they carried on the conflict against prejudice and ignorance.

“When we study these conditions we cannot but marvel at the wonderful success that has so early crowned woman’s efforts in the new fields of her choice.

“But during those ages of ‘the dominion of muscular force,’ as Oliver Schreiner calls them, woman developed some characteristics which, I hope, she may never lose, as such a calamity would divest her of the power by which she rose above bondage and by which she is destined to succeed in whatever good and worthy thing she undertakes.

“The characteristics are chiefly patience, tenacity, tact, truthfulness, and, above all, mother love. And when woman comes to focus these tendencies upon great and unselfish ends they broaden and develop into glorious potencies.

“The ministry is one of those fields of effort where the characteristics mentioned are in demand, and where women seem peculiarly fitted to perform a much-needed work. I believe that the ministry is the broadest, loftiest field on earth for the exercise of noble and helpful characteristics. No field furnishes so great an opportunity for reaching all classes, all ages and both sexes with the gospel of purity, honesty and equality for which the world is famishing.

“The responsibility of the ministry exceeds that of any other profession, in the fact that one who preaches with real and lasting effect is one who tries harder than anybody else to live up to the truth professed.”

Rev. Caroline Bartlett Crane has established a working church in Kalamazoo, Mich., of which she is the pastor, and which is one of the most influential for good of any church in the city. Rev. Augusta J. Chopin is another active minister doing noble work.

photograph of Caroline Bartlett Crane


And why should not women enter the ministry? The mother heart of God will never be known to the world until translated into speech by mother-hearted women. Law and love will never balance in the realm of grace until a woman’s hand shall hold the scales. Men preach a creed; women declare a life. Men deal in formulas, women in facts. Men have always tithed mint and rue and cumin in their ecclesiasticism, while the world’s heart has cried out for compassion, forgiveness and sympathy. Men’s preaching has left heads committed to a 207 catechism and left hearts hard as nether millstones. The Greek bishop who said, “My creed is faultless; with my life you have nothing to do,” condensed into a sentence two thousand years of priestly dogma. Men reason in the abstract, women in the concrete. A syllogism symbolizes one, a rule of life the other. Religion is an affair of the heart; the world is hungry for the comfort of Christ’s gospel, and thirsty for its every-day beatitudes of that holiness which alone constitutes happiness. Men have lost faith in themselves and in each other. Boodlerism and “corners” on the market, greed of gain, passion for power, impurity of life, the complicity of the church with the liquor traffic, the preference of a partisan to a conscientious ballot, have combined to make the men of this generation faithless to each other. The masses of the people have forsaken God’s house. But the masses will go to hear when they speak, and every woman who leads a life of weekday holiness and has the gospel in her looks, however plain her face and dress may be, has round her head the sweet Madonna’s halo, in the eyes of every man who sees her, and she speaks to him with the sacred cadence of his own mother’s voice.

Men have been preaching well-nigh two thousand years, and the large majority of the converts have been women. Suppose now that women share the preaching power, may it not be reasonably expected that a majority of the converts under their administration will be men? The entrance of woman upon 208 the ministerial vocation gives to humanity just twice the probability of strengthening and comforting speech, for women have at least as much sympathy, reverence and spirituality as men, and they have at least equal felicity of manner and of utterance. Why, then, should the pulpit have been so long shorn of half its power?

Formerly the voices of women were held to render them incapable of public speech, but it was discovered that what these voices lacked in sonorosity they supplied in clearness, and when women singers outranked all others, and women lecturers were speaking daily to assemblies numbering from one to ten thousand, this objection vanished. Men said that admitting women into the pulpit would disrupt the home. In this, as in other arguments, they have been proven wrong. The mother heart has not changed—never will change. Women may enter the arena of literature, art, business, the professions, what you will, become a teacher, a physician, a philanthropist, a writer, a minister, even, but she is woman, first of all, and cannot deny herself. A woman in the clerical profession is never in danger of forgetting that she is a woman. She is continually expected to do things that are never required of men in the same position, that men could not do if they would, and at the same time she is required to perform all the regular duties of the minister. And what is the reward for all this? None whatever, unless she finds it in her own heart, born out of the love for her work. The woman who goes into the ministry thinking thereby to make a good living in an easy way, or to popularize herself and get her name before the public, will meet as she deserves to do, disappointment, dissatisfaction and failure. But when a woman goes into the ministry with a true ideal of her work, if after one year of conscientious effort—one year of trial and heartache, too, perhaps—she turns back, she will be an exception to the rule. There is a satisfaction, an inspiration which comes very early in the work and binds one to it forever. Let the discouragements and troubles come as thick and fast as they may, the true-hearted minister will not falter in her loyalty to the grandest calling in the world, for in her heart is a joy that can hardly be expressed, beside which “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared.”

One minister in speaking of her work says: “To know that God has worked through you to bring sunshine into but one dark home; to give hope to one soul that was in loneliness and doubt; to have heard the words ‘My pastor’ spoken in confidence and love when a heart could call to no other human source for sympathy; to know that every week some tired mother or some little child will come to you for sympathy and help—it is these things that raise the minister above the criticism, the fear of failure and disappointment. It is the desire to help and the occasional satisfaction of hope fulfilled, that makes the ministry a good and happy field for work.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXII

draws no line of eligibility to pastoral ordination
text has elegibility





OMEN who were girls half a century ago, and who, looking back over the years, see what the time has brought both in advantage and opportunity, may well call this, as one woman did not long since, “the golden age for women.” There is very little to-day in the way of profession or employment that the woman with ability, steadfastness of character and courage, may not undertake. Avenue after avenue has been opened, and quietly, without flourish of trumpets, women have set out to walk therein. It is no longer a matter of surprise to find them occupying almost any position, and if one wonders at all, it is that they had not found its desirability earlier.

I do not know how many of the girls who are reading this book in the hope of finding the one suggestion that shall open the way for their own advancement, know how many girls are employed as piano and organ tuners, or how successful they have proven in this position. Does the idea startle you? Have you grown so accustomed to having your piano always tuned by a man that you can’t imagine doing it for yourself, or having some other woman do it for you? Have you always thought of it as exclusively a man’s business? Well, why should it be? It is not difficult, it is pleasant, and more sheltered than many other employments which take women out of their homes.

The first person to employ women as tuners was the Hon. Jacob Estey, the founder of the famous Estey Organ Company, of Brattleboro, Vt. It is thirty years since women were first introduced into that factory, so you see this avocation is not so very new, after all.


“Deacon Estey,” as every one called him, was a very progressive man, and his daughter stood in as high regard as his son. He believed in woman’s capacity and ability to do the finer parts of mechanical work, and when the opportunity came he put his theory to a practical test. This was soon after the civil war when so many women were left dependent on their own resources, and oftentimes the sole support of little children or aged parents. New ways must be made for these workers, and one of the first men to give them opportunity was kind Deacon Estey. When first a woman was introduced into the factory, the men tuners were exceedingly indignant, and after holding a meeting at which they expressed themselves very freely, and worked themselves up into a wrathful state of mind, they waited upon their employer and demanded that the offending woman be sent away. The alternative was given him of discharging her or losing them. He listened to them very patiently, and when they were through, he answered them with as much determination as they had shown, but with no anger. The woman was there, she did her work satisfactorily, she was to stay. Of course they could do as they chose about remaining; every man had a right to do what seemed best for himself; but he should never be guilty of an injustice to please any one. The men listened, withdrew—and stayed. As the work increased and the business was enlarged, other women were employed.

It is a pleasure to be able to record that this introduction of women into the Estey Organ Works was not made in the interest of “economy;” they received the same wages as did the men who did the same kind of work, and had every advantage that was given their fellow-workers. Good Deacon Estey has gone on, out of this world, but women should always have a kindly thought for him and hold him in grateful remembrance. His son, who has succeeded to his business, follows his father’s example in employing women tuners, and respecting all the traditions of liberality and justice.


young woman tuning a grand piano


A little less than twenty years ago, in response to the rapidly increasing demand for practical instruction in piano tuning, there was introduced into the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston a department which would afford special facilities for the development of this important art. Among those who applied for admission to this department were a number of young women; they were cordially welcomed, for the late Dr. Tourjee was another man who believed in the capacity of women to excel in various directions. Their progress was noted with special interest, for they were the first, so far as could be learned, who had undertaken the systematic study of the theory and practice of tuning. To the great satisfaction of the management and faculty, their advancement was from the start both rapid and thorough, and before the first term was ended, it became evident that a new field of endeavor had been found for girls. As time passed, the highest expectations were abundantly realized; the young women easily kept 212 pace with the young men who were pursuing the same course, and amply proved their entire ability to excel in this new line of work. From that time the proportion of women to men students has constantly increased until now they are about equal; and years of active effort by the women who have received an education in this department have proved beyond a question their special adaptation to the work.

The department has become one of the most important in the Conservatory and it is provided with ample accommodations for a full and systematic course of instruction. The common idea that the art of tuning is exceedingly difficult to acquire, demanding primarily an exceptionally fine ear, is incorrect. The success which has attended its pursuit in the Conservatory has fully demonstrated that it is within the reach of all who have sufficient natural ability to succeed in any other department.

The faculty of the Conservatory strongly recommend the course to all who would become teachers, and especially to those who reside in sections of the country where competent tuners are not to be found.

For the benefit of the girl who may like to prepare herself for this business, the outline of the course of study is briefly given. It requires two years to obtain a diploma, and the first year the studies include, for the first term: The general study of pitch and relation of musical intervals. Their application as employed in tuning. Structure of the temperament. During the second term: Principles and practice of piano tuning continued. Factory tuning begun. Musical acoustics, embracing the theory of scales, harmonics, beats and temperaments. Study of general construction of piano-forte begun, action model drafting. Polishing begun. Third term: Tuning at Conservatory and factory continued. Study of mechanism of piano-forte action in minutest detail. Stringing and principles of action regulating. Polishing. Fourth term: Tuning practice as in previous terms. Setting up and regulating piano action. Voicing. Capping, etc.

The course for the second year includes in the first term: General review and development of previous year’s work. Reed organ construction and tuning begun. Second term: Reed tuning continued; general repairing. Study of reed organ building at factory. Pipe organ construction and tuning begun. Third term: Reed tuning and voicing. Pipe organ tuning continued. Study of organ pipe construction at factory. Organ construction completed. Fourth term: General completion of all departments of study in the school.

In introducing this profession for women it was fully expected that the same prejudice and opposition would be encountered which have always greeted any innovation, and those who were instrumental in bringing the movement forward prepared themselves carefully to defend it. They knew that the objections would be just what they turned out to be; the first one was, that young women would lack the necessary physical strength. To this they had the ready reply that the 213 demands made upon the strength were not so great as those made in factories, mills, sewing rooms, or even kitchens; in fact, that the tuner’s work was not so fatiguing as were many of the employments in which women were constantly engaged, and which came under the head of “woman’s work.”

The second objection made was, that women, as a rule, lacked mechanical ingenuity. The only answer needed to this objection was to point to the many manufactories where the nicest mechanical skill is necessary, and which are crowded by women operatives.

The third objection was, that women lacked the power of application necessary to the acquirement of a difficult mechanical art. Time has answered that argument, as it alone could, and the experience of the years since the department was first instituted has proven that young women, with the naturally delicate ear and touch, possess peculiar qualifications for this work, and that the fine discrimination necessary to the tuning of an instrument is characteristic of them.

A large number of the women students in this branch come from the West and South, where skillful tuners are rare, and many of them have gone back to their homes and are practicing this art with great success, some of them combining with it the profession of piano or organ teacher.

The attractions which the profession of tuning presents are many. The work itself is well classed among the arts, being the correct adjustment of the musical instrument to the purposes of artistic expression. The manual labor necessary to the accomplishment of this branch of work is calculated to make it healthful and strengthening, and the mental application is sufficient to impart zest and interest to it, while it is attended also with the satisfaction of immediate results. Aside from the limited amount of tuning done during the construction of the instrument, the sphere of the tuner in the homes of the people, or in the warerooms of music dealers, lies in sharp contrast to the life in shops and mills. The profession is conspicuously one in which there is, and is to be, plenty of room. A glance at the actual condition of the country, as concerns the tuning of pianos, and the numbers of instruments demanding constant attention, proves this to be true. In the cities, naturally enough, the profession is fairly represented, although the number of thoroughly educated tuners is limited, while, as I dare say many of you realize, in almost any part of the United States there are whole counties, containing hundreds of pianos, with new ones being constantly added, where only an occasional traveling tuner can be found to hurriedly attend to them all. With the vast number of old pianos, which each year demand more care as they show additional signs of wear, and the thousands of new ones, which scores of manufactories are producing yearly—to say nothing of many times the number of organs—there is surely no occupation which promises a more abundant and ever-increasing business than this of tuning. Every piano made requires care, whether it is used much or 214 little. And as the country increases in wealth and the art of music becomes more universal—especially as pianos become lower in price and are even in greater demand than now—the question very naturally arises, Who shall keep these countless numbers in condition to be used? This, then, is a new field of labor opening to women—another avenue in which our girls may seek employment.

Not every girl will be attracted to this new field, but there is work and remuneration for those who are. In regard to the qualifications necessary to a perfect acquirement of this business, they are: a correct musical ear, a fair amount of musical intelligence, and a desire to excel.

pair of snakes entwined around a torch

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXIII

demanding primarily an exceptionally fine ear
text has and exceptionally

Third term: Tuning at Conservatory and factory continued.
text has Conversatory





VER since that far-away time of which the poets sang:

“When Music, heavenly maid, was young,”

women have naturally turned to music as a field in which they may properly exercise their talents for the sake of giving pleasure to themselves and others, and when necessary, find in them a means of earning a livelihood. While it is true, then, that certain opportunities have been open to women in music longer, perhaps, than in almost any other direction, it is no less true that during the last quarter of the nineteenth century new opportunities have presented themselves in music, new fields for work been opened, in the same gratifying proportion as in so many other lines.

In vocal music there has been a widening of the field for opera and concert work, and the addition of one entirely new branch in the teaching of music in the public schools. In instrumental music, not so very long ago, women played practically no instrument except the organ, piano and harp. Now there is no instrument in the largest orchestra—with the exception, perhaps, of the heaviest double bass horn—which women do not play. They direct orchestras and write music. In fact, there may be said to be no branch of music now in which a young woman with reasonable talent, and a willingness to work hard, may not hope to succeed.

Of all forms of musical expression, singing is the one most commonly employed. Song comes as easily and spontaneously from the lips of the human being as it does from the throat of a bird. In writing of women in music, then, 216 one naturally thinks first of the women who sing, and those who hope by singing to earn for themselves that independence which is the ambition of so many young women to-day.

To write even the names of the women who have become famous as singers would fill a chapter as long as this can be. This century has seen Bosio, Sontag, Lucca, Jenny Lind, Albani, Marietta Piccolomini, Anna de la Grange, Krezzolini, Gazzaniga, Parepa Rosa, and many others almost, if not quite, as distinguished.

Nearly all of these birds of song were heard in America. Of them all no one attracted so much popular attention as Jenny Lind, probably because she had the advantage of the consummate advertising skill of P. T. Barnum. The young people of to-day cannot remember the enthusiasm which was excited by her visit here, and since they cannot, they also fail to understand the firmness with which the majority of people who crowded freight sheds and extemporized shelters to hear her, contend that since her time they have never heard her equal.

Of later great singers there has been, perhaps, no greater favorite than Annie Louis Carey, now Mrs. Raymond. She was a Maine girl, born to very modest circumstances, who determined to develop her rarely beautiful voice, and did so, through years of hard work in village and city choirs, concerts, and finally opera.

Albani was a Canadian girl, her father a country organist. She first learned to play the organ, and played in church. Then came the piano, both instruments to be practically abandoned later, when she came to realize that her talent lay in her voice. After years of work she was able to go to Paris and study with Lamperti, eventually becoming one of the great singers of the world. Albani, now Mrs. Gye, has lived for many years in England, where her sweetness of disposition and beauty of character, added to her talent as a musician, have given her a hold upon the English public which makes her appearance upon any stage a signal for a tumult of applause long before she has opened her lips to sing. The writer heard Albani sing not long ago at the great Handel Triennial Festival in the Crystal Palace, London. There were 22,000 people in the audience, and 4500 were in the chorus. When Madam Albani walked down the stage there arose such a shout of welcome as must have been a satisfactory reward for even so many years of hard work as hers. More than that, her life and talents have so attracted the attention of Queen Victoria that she has long enjoyed the royal favor as no other artist does, and the woman who was once a little Canadian girl enjoys the rare distinction of frequent invitations to Windsor Castle, where she is greeted not merely as a great singer, but as a friend.

Adelina Patti needs no word. Her triumphant career as an artist is fresh in the mind of every one. The practical financial results of it are seen in the castle in Wales in which she lives in regal style. Her wonderful coming up, with her sister Carlotta, from being bare-footed little Italian girls in New York, has always 217 been one of the phenomena of musical history. She sang as naturally as a bird, and with almost as little regard for that “method” which is so essential to most artists.

To-day the mind turns naturally to Nordica, Calve, Eames and Melba, when one thinks of great singers. The State of Maine has been remarkable in the number of great singers which it has sent out. In addition to Carey, Nordica and Eames were natives of the Pine Tree State. Nordica came as a girl to Boston to study in the Conservatory of Music. She thought herself fortunate to get a place, some time later, to sing in a quartette, and from that went on to concert work. Eventually she was able to go to Paris to complete her studies. Emma Eames was another Maine girl who was willing to study hard and profit by the advice of older and more experienced musicians. She is gifted with great adaptability. Her marriage to Julian Story, the successful portrait artist, has been a very happy one, and without doubt, the doubly artistic atmosphere in which she has lived has done much to develop her talent.

Melba was an Australian girl who studied in Paris, and has achieved a very great success.

The possibility of becoming a Nordica, a Melba, or an Eames is a fascinating one, and it is only natural that in the success of such women other young women should find encouragement for the cultivation of musical talent. And although there can of necessity be but few great prizes, such as these women win, because few persons are gifted with their pre-eminent talents and abilities, there will almost always be open to the woman of moderate talent who will thoroughly fit herself for such work as she can do, and is willing to do it, a field in which she can earn a comfortable living, and be happily independent in doing so. This field is by no means narrow. It embraces among other lines of work the ordinary teaching of singing, the teaching of singing in the public schools—a constantly widening field—choir work in churches, and concert and festival singing.

The writer has asked one young woman of her acquaintance, whose experience as a teacher of singing has proved the correctness of the above statement, to write out a brief account of what she did, with the thought that it will be of interest, and the hope that it may be of help, to other young women who may have the same ambition.

“My home was in a county town of about 2500 inhabitants. My father was a clergyman, and while there was always the money which might be necessary to provide us children with the means for an education, we expected and wished to practice all possible prudence. The fact that there was a good small college in the town made the matter of education easier to accomplish. I think the fact that I had a good voice was first noticed as far back as when I was a child in Sabbath-school, and I began to sing little songs in the school entertainments. 218 When I was twelve years old our church gathered a chorus choir, and I was among the number. It was not long before I began to be asked to sing the solo parts there. Two or three years later I began to take my first special lessons, driving twelve miles on Saturdays to an adjoining town to do so. That was when I was in college.

“We had a long winter vacation, then, of seven weeks. The last year I was in college I spent that vacation in Boston, studying with a good teacher there. The next winter I went to New York, and devoted the whole winter to hard work there with one of the best known teachers in that city. It was my intention to have returned to New York for another year with the same teacher, but an older brother having decided to go to Leipsic, Germany, to study that year, the family decided that as there would not be very much more expense, and many added advantages, I had better go with him, and I did so.

“As my studies had now begun to cost more money than I could expect to easily have from home, I had my life insured and began to borrow from a friend who from interest in my work was willing to accept the insurance as security. The debt incurred then, and added to during the next few years, I was able to fully repay after I began to work for myself.

“I always tried to be economical, except that I did not hesitate to go freely to concerts and the opera, because I felt that to be a legitimate part of my education. Fortunately such expenses in Leipsic are comparatively small. We used to pay thirty-seven and a‑half cents for seats at the opera, and although they were far back we were able to hear well. I am frequently asked what a student can live for, and study, in Europe. My experience was so largely in Leipsic that I can answer for only that city. My first year’s expenses, all told, were only between $500 and $600. Except for the entertainments which I have spoken of I am afraid most young people would have thought I lived pretty poorly. I do not mean but what we were comfortable, and very happy. My brother was with me, as I have said. We lived in lodgings, and got our own breakfasts and suppers, taking our dinners at a restaurant. I remember we restricted ourselves to a supper of bread and butter, and milk, with the addition of so much extra as could be bought each night for not more than twenty-five pfennigs, an equivalent of five cents in our money. Sometimes that meant two little slices of cold meat, sometimes a bit of cheese, but I think we never exceeded the sum.

“I studied in Leipsic three years. The next two years cost me more, as my brother was not with me, and I had rooms and board with a family. I studied the piano, composition, counterpoint, and the general branches of music at the Conservatory, and vocal music with an able teacher outside. For two years I took lessons in the German language. When I am asked what I think of the advisability of students going to Germany to study, I have always said that I think 219 they will get there a better ‘all round’ education in music than anywhere else. It seems to me as if the Germans make the study and teaching of music such a serious matter that no conscientious student can help coming to feel the responsibility and value of the work, and study accordingly.

“After my third year in Leipsic I came to London and studied for seven months with William Shakespeare, and the next year came home, in debt, but feeling that I had now sufficient knowledge of music so that I ought to be able to earn a living by teaching, even if I could not do anything else. I think many young women who want to begin to teach music make a mistake in thinking they cannot be successful, or perhaps contented, unless they are in some large city. The field is very much more crowded there. I began in a large country town, some distance from my home, but near enough so that I could go there in the morning and come back at night. I had no trouble in getting thirty-six pupils at the very first, in that one town, and soon there were others in other towns and at home. It was hard work. I used to teach all day long, and sometimes would get pretty tired. But from the very first I was able to more than pay my expenses, and I paid my board at home, too, because I had all along been determined that there was no reason why I should not take care of myself, just as my brothers were doing. During the next year an opportunity presented itself for me to go to an institution in a Western State to take charge of the music there. The salary was very reasonable, and as this institution was in a city of 20,000 inhabitants there was a chance for considerable outside work. I succeeded in getting a church position, and during vacations was able to take some concert engagements. My total income the second year, when I had got fairly settled there, was a little over $1500, and that I felt was doing very well for a girl. Since then it has steadily increased, and I have been able to live very pleasantly, and, as I have said, pay all my debts.”


Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXIV

skip to next chapter

Now there is no instrument in the largest orchestra . . . which women do not play.
[So long as they do not aspire to do so in Berlin or Vienna.]

Melba was an Australian girl who studied in Paris, and has achieved a very great success
[Nellie Melba had no less than two dishes named after her—Melba toast and peach Melba—which is two more than most people, no matter how famous.]

My home was in a county town of about 2500 inhabitants
text unchanged: error for country?

studied for seven months with William Shakespeare
[Tenor, composer and teacher John William Thomas Shakespeare (1849–1931).]

a chance for considerable outside work
text has ouside





HE three lines of music work—teaching, choir singing and concert work—are so closely interwoven that it would be hard to treat them separately. Very many musicians combine two of them, some all three. Choir work forms, perhaps, the first steady means of earning money, which the majority of singers find available, although the pay at first may be very small. As a general thing, while there are many more paid church singers now than in years past, the average salary is less. Many women are glad to get a chance to begin in church work for nothing, singing for the sake of the drill, the experience, and the reputation which the position gives them. Then, perhaps, a dollar a Sunday is paid, and later two dollars. A woman who is paid five dollars a Sunday may count herself doing well. The average salary for a good church soprano is now from $400 to $600 a year. Of course, there are fortunate exceptions. A few wealthy churches in each of the great cities pay some favorite and famous singers much higher prices. Even in these cases $1200 to $1500 is generally the limit, although there are exceptions, and one woman in New York City is said to receive no less than $4500 a year for singing in church.

The training necessary for making a successful church singer should be quite as arduous as that in any line, and no one makes a greater mistake than the woman who, because she has a good voice and knows a little something of music, thinks she is fitted to sing in a church choir. Nowhere else is the ability to read music at sight correctly so indispensable. Most church choirs can have but one rehearsal—generally on Saturday night. If the director is to keep any kind of a 221 reputation for himself and choir, he must present fresh music from Sunday to Sunday, and it must be of a high order of merit. If he puts such music into the hands of a person who cannot read it readily, it is like putting a French book down for a child to read who hardly knows English. It is possible for the ignorant singer to learn the piece of music by rote, if she have a quick ear, but even then the whole time of its rehearsal must be given to her especial benefit, and the time of the other three members of the choir, quite likely able musicians, entirely lost.

portrait of Gertrude Franklin


The young woman who hopes to perfect herself as a church singer should furnish herself at once with an instrument, preferably a piano, and then practice, practice, practice, until she can read readily and correctly. Then, and only then, ought she to think of asking for a place in a first-class choir.

In vocal work one of the most widely and favorably known teachers, church and concert singers, is Gertrude Franklin, of Boston, formerly Miss Virginia Beatty, of Baltimore. Her musical education began while she was quite young, and at the age of thirteen she gave promise of becoming a brilliant pianist. Her taste, however, was for vocal rather than instrumental music, and prompted by natural inclination, and the possession of a voice of remarkable sweetness and purity, she began the study of singing. Mr. Aaron Taylor and Signor Agramonti were her first teachers, and on the advice of the latter she went to Europe to 222 complete her musical education. In Paris she studied under Madame Lagrange, and with Professor Barbot, of the Conservatoire, and in London. On returning home she took an extended course of study under Madame Rudersdorff, for oratorio and the more serious range of classical concert music.

Miss Franklin has appeared in the symphony concerts of Boston, New York and Brooklyn, and in classical and other concerts in most of the large cities of the United States. Her work has been under the leadership of such men as Theodore Thomas, Walter Damrosch, Emil Pauer, Karlberg, Henschel, Gericke, Nikisch, Tomlins, Gilchrist and others. Her concert work was remarkable apart from her fine voice, because of the extent of her repertoire. She sings in French, German, Italian and English, and has the proud distinction of having the largest repertoire of any American singer, also the largest collection of arias and orchestral scores for the concert stage. Miss Franklin has never repeated a program in the same place, or an aria, unless called upon at a moment’s notice to sing without rehearsal. At present her time is so engaged in teaching that she has given up concert work. In private she is now known as Mrs. W. C. G. Salisbury.

Mrs. Jennie Patrick Walker, Miss Gertrude Edwards, Mrs. Humphrey Allen, Mrs. Marie Kaula Stone, Mrs. Titus—one of the Boston symphony soloists, are only a few more of the women who in New England alone, have won reputation for themselves as church and concert singers.

Miss Julia Wyatt, who was born in Dover, N. H., but went to Boston to study, has won special success as a teacher. She emphasizes the point mentioned above in her teaching, saying in public recently:

“The pupil should learn to accompany herself. In this way, self-reliance is learned and a freedom in execution, all-important factors in the training of a successful vocalist. How often is a pupil asked to sing and cannot do so because she cannot accompany herself!”

The teaching of music in the public schools is a branch of work which is being rapidly developed. Almost all the larger towns and cities now require the services of at least one musical superintendent, and the majority of these are women. One or more hour’s teaching a week will be given to each school, and a general oversight kept over the music teaching of the regular teacher in that room during all the time. In the larger towns the salary is good. Often a woman will be able to combine two or three smaller towns, going to each certain days in the week, and from the combination secure a good living. The best training for this work is in a measure distinct from that for ordinary teaching. The pupils are instructed in large classes, instead of singly, and the teacher must learn to impart musical notation in a single rhythmic way.

There are now held at various places in the United States several summer schools of music, arranged and managed by the principal system of musical 223 instruction for schools now before the public. Much can be learned at these schools, and a few courses of their instruction, supplemented by diligent practice, have fitted many women to do work which enables them to command paying positions.

full-length portrait of Nannie Hands-Kronberg


Concert work is apt to lead very naturally out of teaching and successful church work. It is an acceptable adjunct to other musical employments, but perhaps no one takes to it entirely for a support. A few women can command high prices for an appearance in concerts, but the opportunities are not many. Traveling from town to town is hard at best, and becomes a much more serious matter when one remembers how much care is necessary to preserve such a delicate organ as a singer’s voice. Probably a scale of from $5 to $50 would embrace the prices paid very nearly all concert singers, after expenses are paid, and the majority of those would be nearer $5 than $50. Of course, there are to be excepted the great opera stars when they appear on the concert stage, and all such singers as may have made a world-wide reputation in other lines of work. If a young woman has made up her mind that she wishes to study music as a profession, and taking stock of her especial talents has also decided in just which branch of music her taste and talents incline, so that she may more reasonably hope for success in that than in any 224 other line, she should next, if she is really sincere in her desire to fit herself to do such thorough work as can only lead to genuine success, seek the judgment and advice of a thoroughly able specialist in that particular line.

Do not trust only to the advice of relatives and friends. Even if they honestly desire to be sincere in their opinions they cannot help being prejudiced and they too often make the mistake of raising false hopes in a young singer who would do well enough in a parlor but who is by no means a person of sufficient parts for the arduous study which alone can make the artist, be they ever so talented.

For instance: at one time, some years ago, there happened to be studying music in Milan, Italy, between three hundred and four hundred Americans. Over half of them were women. Out of the number there at the time referred to only one woman, Madam Albani, has achieved a really distinguished success.

There are many things to be considered. A famous American teacher tells of one experience thus: “A young woman came over a thousand miles to have me try her voice and advise her if she should study for the stage. I had her come to my studio and sing several arias. She had been well trained in technique, and her voice was a beautiful one, but she sang every one of the numbers out of tune. When she had finished I told her so, and she said, ‘That may be so, but don’t you think my voice is a beautiful one?’

“I told her that her voice was a beautiful one, and then tried it again, but with the same result, and told her so. She argued that this would not interfere with her artistic success, until finally I told her. ‘If you possess all of the other artistic virtues but that of absolute pitch, you forfeit your right to them all when you think of following the career of an artist.’ She was so offended that she put on her cloak and went away without even thanking me.”

Asked for a general summary of the whole situation, the same teacher replied:

“There is no doubt but what the musical profession is overcrowded to-day with persons who could do something else a great deal better.”

tree-lined stream

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXV

cannot do so because she cannot accompany herself
text has see cannot

impart musical notation in a single rhythmic way
text unchanged: error for simple?





FTER a young woman decides that she has sufficient musical talent to be justified in devoting time and money to its cultivation, she ought next to try and find out if hers be a special talent in some one direction, and if it is, direct her work and energies accordingly. Of course the distinction between study of the voice and of instrumental music is easy to make, and in the latter there is generally a decided taste for some one instrument. There is, however, a further division which can be made in most cases, and it would be of advantage to many young women music students if they would realize this earlier than most of them do. In the teaching of vocal music, for instance, there is, as has been said in a preceding chapter, a very decided difference between the qualities necessary for private teaching and for teaching in the public schools. Some young women seem to have a special fitness for dealing with children in large divisions, which is of the greatest value in school work. It is just the same with the student of the piano. Given talents which may be developed into equal ability, one woman may be able to excel as a teacher, another as a concert performer, or another as an accompanist.

The remarkably successful career of Mrs. Martha Dana Shepard, of Boston, as a music festival pianist, is a striking proof of the truth of this statement. Mrs. Shepard very early in her life realized in just what direction her talent lay and developed it in that direction. Her home was in the town of Ashland, N. H., and she lived there some years after her marriage. She had gradually won a good local reputation as an accompanist for choruses and festivals, until through the instrumentality of some one who knew of her work, there came a chance for her to go 226 to Keene, N. H., to play at a festival there at which Carl Zerrahn, already the most famous director in New England, was to conduct. This was the first opportunity which she had had to play at so large a festival and under so experienced a conductor. Mrs. Shepard tells the story herself as follows:

“I was a young woman then, almost unused to the world outside my own country town, and when I came to consider the proposition found myself frightened at the thought of coming before so large an audience and so able a conductor. Mr. Zerrahn even then had the reputation of being a keen critic, and not very favorably disposed toward women pianists. I was determined I would succeed, though, in the line of work which I had chosen, and this seemed to be the first beginning to be made. I accepted the offer and made my plans to go. My baby then was only six months old, and this in itself seemed reason enough to make me give up, but when the time came I took my baby and my girl and went to Keene. The girl stayed at the hotel and minded the baby and I went to the hall. To say that I was frightened wouldn’t begin to express the situation, but I watched Mr. Zerrahn’s baton, and when that came down I came down on the piano. I did the very best I could, and I succeeded.”

Mr. Zerrahn was quick to recognize the merits of his new-found accompanist, even if she was a woman. From that time until her retirement from her field of work in 1897, thirty-two years, Mrs. Shepard played every year at a great many festivals, all over New England, New York and Canada. After a few years she moved to Boston, and added the position of a church organist and director of a choir to her other work. During the thirty-five years that Mrs. Shepard was constantly before the public she had the rare record of having failed to meet only one engagement, and that only on account of the illness of her husband. In this time it is probable that no one else but Mr. Zerrahn did so much for the cause of music in New England outside the large cities as did Mrs. Shepard. Her success was largely due to her possessing, in addition to her musical ability, the talent to inspire a country chorus of inexperienced singers with confidence and enthusiasm. Added to this she was gifted with perfect health and a physique so strong as to enable her to do a prodigious amount of hard work. Week after week she has played at her church in Boston on Sunday, taken an early Monday train for perhaps extreme northern New England or Canada, reached her destination on Monday evening, and played the same evening at a rehearsal, played the next four days at forenoon and afternoon rehearsals and evening concerts, and come home on Saturday to conduct her church rehearsal on Saturday evening. Mrs. Shepard’s own explanation of her success is simple: “I have always worked hard, and always tried to do my best.” The young woman who is willing to really do those two things, given any reasonable amount of ability to begin with, may hope to be just as successful.


photograph of Martha Dana Shepard in ornamental frame



Of other women who have won distinction and a means of support from the piano, the number is too great to try to count by name. The field for this work has been greatly widened of late from the constantly increasing number of churches desiring a capable organist, and willing to pay them. When only a few years ago it was thought a woman could hardly play a church organ, they are now to be found doing satisfactory work in some of the largest churches.

A great many girls, too, earn a pleasant summer in first-class mountain or seaside hotels by playing the piano a few hours every day and evening. Sometimes they are given nothing but their board and railroad fare, and sometimes they receive a small salary besides.

That such an institution as the National Conservatory of Music of America should have been founded in this decidedly practical country is worthy of note, but that the foundation and the eminence attained by it, despite many adverse or negative conditions, are due to the spirit, courage, labor and indomitable perseverance of one woman alone, Mrs. Jeannette M. Thurber, of New York, is remarkable. It has been sheerly a labor of love with Mrs. Thurber, love of the art of music and love of the culture of her countrymen; the Conservatory is not conducted for the purpose of making money. It supplies tuition at a nominal cost to all pupils who in the judgment of the faculty are apt to make a reputation in the world of music. Mrs. Thurber finds repayment for the expenditure of her time, labor and means in the hundreds of young men and women graduates of the Conservatory who are making a name and a living as singers and players.

The National Conservatory has been in existence a dozen years at 126-128 East Seventeenth street. New York. Its faculty numbers nearly sixty, and includes such musicians as Rafael Joseffy, Adele Margulies, Leopold Lichtenberg, Victor Capoul, Gustav Hinrichs, S. P. Warren and Anton Seidl, while its director is a composer of world-wide fame, the greatest composer perhaps since Brahms—Dr. Antonin Dvorak. The pupils of the Conservatory number at present six hundred and eighty-six, and it has supplied tuition since its inception to three less than three thousand pupils, in many cases free, thanks to Mrs. Thurber’s broad generosity and love of music. Whatever there is to be learned in the practice and theory of music is here taught by the best masters, and, while called national, this Conservatory is really universal in the inclusive scope of its curriculum.

Of women composers of music there are at least four living at the time this chapter is written who have achieved a success which has given them a worldwide reputation. These are Chaminade, a native Parisian; Augusta Holmes, a woman of Irish birth, but so long a resident of Paris that she is reckoned as a Parisian; Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, a native of New Hampshire, and Margaret Ruthven Lang, a native Bostonian.


Mile. Chaminade writes chiefly songs and pieces for the piano. Her work charms by its delicate beauty, and it has given her a unique position in the entire musical world.

Augusta Holmes has written songs, piano music, orchestral music and large choral works. Her success compares favorably with that of any living writers of music to-day. She has an unusual talent for melody.

Kate Vannah, of Gardiner, Me., is another successful song writer.

portrait of Amy Beach in round frame


Mrs. H. H. A. Beach was born in Henniker, N. H. When but a child of four years musical ideas began to crystallize in her mind, and she could put in correct form the harmonies which came to her. No more interesting study could present itself to the student of psychology than the natural talent of this woman, which, though inherited in part from her ancestors, suddenly took a fresh bound and resulted in genius. Before she was thirty years old she had written a mass for solo voices, chorus, orchestra and organ, a symphony, and over sixty other works for piano. Her talent becomes the more interesting when one learns that it was self-acquired, with the exception of rudimentary instruction received from a few teachers in harmony and musical form.

In musical composition Mrs. Beach for years has pursued diligently lines of study which have proved valuable, and among which may be mentioned the habit of analyzing the works performed by the noted Boston Symphony Orchestra. In addition to this practice she translated for herself treatises not existing in the English language, and which have an important bearing on her lines of study. Her first public success as a pianist was in 1883, when but sixteen years of age she appeared with the Symphony Orchestra, playing Moscheles’ G minor concerto for piano and orchestra. Since then she has appeared many times with the latter organization, and also with Theodore Thomas, as well as at numerous recitals, performing chiefly her own compositions.

Her “Gaelic” Symphony is a composition well thought out, original and admirably handled. It does not suggest the sex of its composer, but rather the mind of a well-balanced master in form and color. Her skill in the instrumentation of this work is remarkable. Mrs. Beach’s talent in developing the heavier forms of musical composition found instant recognition on the performance of her Mass in E flat by the Handel and Haydn Society in 1892. This work was at once given just and enthusiastic praise. In the words of an eminent 230 musical critic: “Mrs. Beach at once took rank among the foremost of America’s composers.”

portrait of Margaret R. Lang in round frame


Margaret Ruthven Lang was born in Boston, November 27, 1867. She inherits her musical ability from both parents. Her father, B. J. Lang, the eminent organist, leader and teacher, who has long held a foremost position in the musical life of Boston, has been the most influential factor in shaping her musical growth.

Miss Lang, therefore, has had coupled with her natural gifts a musical education which has been carefully nurtured in every detail. She began writing music when about twelve years old. Among her first compositions at that time was a quintette of one movement for strings and piano, and several songs. She began the study of the piano forte under one of her father’s pupils, and later continued it under his direction. Sometime after this she studied the violin with Louis Schmidt in Boston, and continued under Drechsler and Abel in Munich during the winters of 1886-87. While in Munich she also studied composition with Victor Gluth.

On returning to Boston in 1887, she took up the study of orchestration with G. W. Chadwick, since which time she has written a large number of compositions, many of which have had great success. Her “dramatic overture,” op. 12, was performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Nikisch on April 8, 1893; her overture, Witichis, op. 10, was performed in Chicago under Theodore Thomas, at two concerts in July and August, 1893, and at a third concert under Bendix. Both of these compositions are in manuscript; also a third overture, op. 23, “Totila.” Of other works for orchestra, composed later, are three arias: one for alto, “Sappho’s Prayer to Aphrodite,” was performed in New York in 1896; one for soprano, “Armida,” performed at the Boston Symphony concert, January 13, 1896, and one for baritone, “Phœbus.”

She has also in manuscript several part-songs, piano-forte pieces, songs, a cantata for chorus, solo and orchestra; a string quartette and several compositions for violin and piano; also forty published songs, several part-songs and piano pieces.

What these four women have done others may do. While it is not reasonable to expect that all will have the special talent necessary for composition, it may be 231 safely thought that some will have it, who, if they are willing to work, may succeed. After all, it is the same story—application; and if Chaminade, Augusta Holmes, Mrs. Beach and Miss Lang were to tell you how they came to succeed, it is a question if all four would not unite to say that they believed hard work, quite as much as talent, lay at the foundation.

ornamental urn

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXVI

skip to next chapter

given any reasonable amount of ability to begin with, may hope to be just as successful.
. missing

such an institution as the National Conservatory of Music of America
[Founded in 1885, it went officially belly-up in 1952 after several decades of decline.]

its director is a composer of world-wide fame, the greatest composer perhaps since Brahms—Dr. Antonin Dvorak
[By the time this book saw print, Dvorak was long gone. He spent less than three years—1892-95—at the National Conservatory, during which time he wrote the New World Symphony.]

Chaminade, a native Parisian
[Her full name was Cécile Louise Stéphanie Chaminade (1857–1944), but she published under her bare surname.]

Mrs. H. H. A. Beach
[Generally known as Amy Beach (1867–1944).]


photograph of the all-woman Fadette Orchestra



group of camels approaching an oasis



ERHAPS no one instrument has been more nearly monopolized by women than the harp. While there have been able and famous men performers on the harp, like Ap Thomas, the talented Welshman, and Schueker of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it is probable than many more women than men play this instrument. The attraction which the instrument has for a woman may be partly accounted for from the fact of its picturesque accessories. It certainly is true that no more charming picture can be imagined than a beautiful woman, clad in a simple but artistically designed gown, playing upon a harp.

Maud Murray is a young woman who has achieved success as a harpist at concerts and various public performances. Another very successful young woman harpist is Miss Harriet A. Shaw. Although she played the violin and piano it was not until she was fourteen years of age that Miss Shaw turned her attention to the harp. Then she went to Europe and began a most thorough course of study. In Dresden she pursued her work under Carl Ziech, of the Royal Grand Opera. Other teachers on her chosen instrument were Mr. Lockwood, harpist to the King of Bavaria, and A. Thomas, harpist to the Queen of England; also under John Thomas and Lorenzi, the Italian master, with whom she spent two years.

This extensive course of study, coupled with diligent work, has made Miss Shaw an artist of great merit. She has appeared as soloist with some of the most noted foreign orchestras, and has performed with the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, on which occasion she performed the difficult Nikolai Concerto.


Miss Shaw has also written many delightful compositions, not only as solos for the harp, but songs with its accompaniment. Her song, “Thou Art My Everlasting Light,” has been particularly successful.

Miss Shaw seems to strive especially, and far more than most harpists do, after great variety of tone-color, not confining herself to the single contrast between whispering pianissimo and what approach to forte the harp can make, but seeking after and often successfully exploiting a wider range of tone-effect. Her technique is brilliant, and her playing essentially musical.

The demand which has sprung up during the last few years for small orchestras to play at hotels, more particularly at summer hotels and summer resorts, has opened a new field for women in music. With all due deference to the men, any one will admit that a prettily dressed company of young women is much more attractive to look at than the same number of men can be. They seem to be equally fortunate in selecting and performing such music as will please the public at these resorts. The number of these ladies’ orchestras is now considerable. Many are small, only a quartette, directed by one of their own number. The larger organizations, with the exception of the Fadette Ladies’ Orchestra, have usually been directed by a man. With the Marion Osgood Orchestra, however, came a departure in the shape of a woman leader, Miss Marion Osgood, who started the first one in America. This organization was succeeded by the Fadette Orchestra in 1888, with only six players. In 1890 Mrs. Caroline B. Nichols assumed the leadership and has conducted very successfully ever since. The size of the orchestra has been greatly increased in later years, and it is competent to perform the most difficult and intricate compositions.

From time to time another instrument has been added whenever an efficient player has been discovered. Even then, to provide some most important instrument, it has been necessary to have women specially trained. The French horns, for instance, whose beautiful, mysterious tones add so much color to orchestral pieces, were taken up, malice prepense, by two young violinists. So, at the time this article is written, an oboeist and bassoonist are preparing themselves—are, indeed, almost ready—to fill the only existing vacancies in the “wood-wind” division of instruments. The full import of this will be better understood when it is known that a person who already has a thorough musical understanding must still devote several years of hard, constant practice to acquire even a moderate degree of skill upon any of those difficult instruments.

In 1895 this orchestra was incorporated in Boston, its permanent home, and since then it has steadily grown in favor. It numbers a first violin and director, four additional first violins, four second violins, two violas, two violoncellos, two contrabassos, kettle-drums and a bass, two flutes and piccolo, two clarionets, two cornets, two French horns, three trombones, snare-drum and “traps,” and pianoforte. 235 Six of the ladies are notable soloists. In the winter the work of such an orchestra includes playing at club meetings, receptions, weddings and evening parties. They often play for dancing at balls or “small and earlies,” and are favorites for afternoon or evening musicals.

photograph of Caroline B. Nichols holding a violin


Who would not prefer, at a reception or the commencement exercises of a girls’ seminary, music evolved amid the flutter of lawn and lingerie to that struggling up from amid the stiff starched front and the dismal swallow-tail; or harmonies scented with the delicate aroma of violet water, rather than with beer, tobacco and bologna!

Marietta Sherman (Mrs. Raymond) was also a pioneer as a woman director. All three of these women learned to play the violin, and developed from that into directing. Miss Osgood and Miss Sherman always directed with the violin in hand. It remained for Mrs. Nichols to assume the baton and become the first regular woman director.

An interesting feature in this connection was the presentation, in the autumn of 1897, of a solid silver baton to Mrs. Nichols by Dr. Ivan Michels, a Russian diplomat, who had been attracted by the playing of the orchestra at Washington in the summer of that year. All through the summer they played at Glen Echo, on the Potomac, six miles out of Washington, giving daily programs of popular music in a shell-shaped pavilion on “Wooded Island.” On Friday evenings a concert of entirely classical music was given. The auditorium seated ten thousand people. For the daily work the members wore a neat uniform suit of cadet blue, with jacket and military braiding, and in 236 the evenings, light silks and muslins. The leader and manager of the Fadettes, Mrs. Caroline B. Nichols, is a most attractive woman, with marked ability along business as well as musical lines. She is a member of one of the old families of Dedham, Mass., and inherits her musical propensity from her father, who was a leader in Boston’s musical circles. She has devoted a number of years to close and careful study of the violin, of which instrument she is thorough master; also to the science of harmony and to instrumentation and orchestration.

Miss Dora P. Damon, one of the soloists of the Fadettes, is regarded as one of the finest cornetists among Boston women. She is a member of the Damon Quartette, her three sisters, still school girls, playing the violin, flute and piano.

Another soloist is Miss Belle B. Yeaton, whose chosen instrument is the trombone, upon which she has no feminine rival in the country. A native of Chelsea, she was instructed entirely by her father from the age of twelve.

Miss Viola M. Dunn, the clarionet soloist, came of fine Maine stock, where her ancestors were among the early settlers. From her childhood she showed a pronounced taste for music, and began her devotion to the clarionet at the age of fourteen. She has been a pupil and is now assistant to Eustach Strasser, the noted clarionetist, who points to her with pardonable pride as his first female scholar. She has had many honors conferred upon her, and holds the office of clerk, treasurer and the leader’s assistant in the Fadettes.

Miss Mary J. Tracy, performer on both violin and viola, began her study of music when only a child, when she took up violin playing.

The Fadettes’ first violoncellist is Miss E. Josephine Hale, of Malden. She has done work with a quartette and trio, besides the orchestra, and at a musical festival in Weirs, N. H., not long since, was the only woman in the orchestra, and was highly praised for her performance.

Miss Alice E. Ball is flute soloist to the Fadettes, and the sisters Cora and Ardelle Cunningham, of Chelsea, Mass., are the only women French horn players in America.

To the list of her other musical accomplishments Miss Estelle M. Churchill adds the playing of snare and bass drums. She also intends to add tympany or kettle-drums, but her real position is that of first pianist to the ladies’ orchestra.

Miss Blanche M. Little has mastered that unusual instrument to take a girl’s fancy, the contrabass, and is happy in the possession of a genuine Mittenwald instrument of the finest tone and strength. She is a Boston girl, and comes of a thoroughly musical family.

Other members of the orchestra are Misses Nettie and Freda Damon, Beth Page, Florence Hall, Minnie Grover, Eleanor Mauser and Christine Allendorf, all young women of character and strength of purpose.


What the orchestra has done in Boston can be done elsewhere. Girls of talent will find the keys of a musical instrument more interesting to handle than the keys of a typewriter, especially if in the former case the hours are very much less and the pay a great deal more. Let competent women in our larger towns and cities think on this. Here is a new field opening; here new opportunities. Really good players will always be in demand.

cartouche with two classical men in profile

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXVII

skip to next chapter

Perhaps no one instrument has been more nearly monopolized by women than the harp
[Until embarrassingly recently, the Vienna Philharmonic was male-only and therefore by necessity employed male harpists. It looks too comical for words, and to heck with gender stereotyping.]

she performed the difficult Nikolai Concerto
[The what? I find a harp concerto by Nicolai Berezowsky—who was born in 1900—and another by Nicolas-Charles Bochsa (1789–1856).]

Miss Shaw has also written many delightful compositions
[Her 1899 publication 7 Solos for the Harp can still be had as a POD reprint.]

an oboeist and bassoonist are preparing themselves
spelling unchanged

began her devotion to the clarionet at the age of fourteen.
. invisible





O the savage, woman is a slave; to the half civilized she is a toy and to the enlightened she is man’s equal.

The old Greek law gave woman a child’s place and held her in lifelong tutelage. Fathers in mediæval history and Christian fathers assigned no higher position to her. From the English Heptarchy to the Reformation she was still a servant. During succeeding years she might have been seen drawing ploughs through the furrows, bent under heavy loads, harnessed with the animals in the fields and forced into every imaginable drudgery. From American discoveries to the Civil War she seemed harnessed in the place she was compelled to occupy for the sake of an established custom of servitude. Today she keeps step with man in scientific pursuits, in art and in all occupations.

The places occupied fifty years ago are not sufficiently wide and broad for the girl of to-day. Changed conditions have brought women not only to positions of larger duties and heavier responsibilities, but to broader growth and nobler life.

Man to-day has to cope with a knowledge and aptitude which often baffle him at every point. This is as it should be, for a woman’s intellect is as worthy of cultivation as a man’s. Does the new education, the new order of things, tend to make her less womanly?

No indeed; a true woman is womanly in whatever she chooses to do and wherever she chooses to live. Whether she be found at the bar, in the pulpit, the Senate or bench, she may still be a woman in the highest, noblest sense.


Since the day of woman’s creation, there never was an age when so many legitimate opportunities were given a girl to become a part of this working world, an essential factor in its progress and a sharer with her brother in its emoluments.

She finds her highest service in ministering to humanity. Patients in hospital wards wait for her ministrations, pharmacists require her assistance, childish souls need her guidance, publishers, printers, artists, architects offer to her the chance for a cultivated and honest life in places hitherto unoccupied.

James Russell Lowell once wrote: “No man is born unto the world whose work is not born with him.”

A child uninfluenced by the suggestions of others will engage in occupations for which she is by nature naturally adapted. She will do those things which she loves best. For hours her work will take up her attention. In one’s life vocation “a little child shall lead.” A child’s mind is a guide to the woman’s place.

The little girls whose dolls are sick, fed, nourished and nursed may in late years find her place among the physicians or in hospital wards cheering and ministering.

The child who for hours sits with her books, totally oblivious to all surroundings, may later find her place in the field of literature. The crude, deformed pencil drawings of many a girl have in womanhood developed her, and her productions as an artist are then widely prized. The little one who makes imaginary pianos of the chairs and tables, who sings her lullabys, carols, oratorio or opera selections to her dolls and child friends, may in womanhood find her proper place in the music world.

The child of domestic tastes, she who fashions marvelous creations in dresses or hats, who produces with the scissors wonderful designs from colored papers or teaches her mimic doll-schools, will later find her place among the dressmakers, milliners, designers or teachers.

The lives of our women who have become famous in various lines of work show that many hours of their childhood days were spent in the work in which they afterward became pre-eminent. The child’s uninfluenced occupations are often but the woman’s work in embryo.

The struggles, the disappointments of many a woman in industrial pursuits often arise from a lack of thought in regard to her chosen career.

A grave and daily recurring mistake is made in seeking the fields which are already overcrowded and not seeking new occupations. If fewer girls would qualify themselves for the overcrowded professions and fit themselves for other skilled employments and newer industries, there would be a less number of anxious, discouraged, overburdened women.


Even after a work is mastered, or the girl is proficient in her art, then comes the question, where shall I pursue it? To many a girl in the country town comes the dream of earning her living in the city. Unless her preparation has been exceptionally thorough, her talent remarkable, her work superior to all others, her resources and influential friends many, it is a risk for her to seek the city. Stenographers, photographers, dressmakers, physicians who are unknown in a city must wait, and wait long, must struggle, and struggle hard.

The girl who would make her work profitable must select some special branch and pursue it diligently, striving with heart and soul to render herself as nearly perfect in it as possible.

Her name should become known in some one occupation; one work, one particular branch, one place.

Unless she strives incessantly to get to the top she will remain at the bottom, and down there lies the threatening monster starvation. Unless in filling her position, she can make her influence and her power broadly felt, unless she can develop and bring the highest of her nature to her work, she has not chosen the right work or the right place in which to pursue it.

Whatever may be your gift, whatever your God-given powers, cultivate your own talents; as Emerson says:

“Insist upon yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it.”

To think we have the ability to do a thing is almost to accomplish it.

To determine upon success is frequently success itself. Eager, earnest resolution in some line of work is its accomplishment, for to a steadfast, consecrated, resolute soul there are no impossibilities.

Maternity is her mission and education is her work. George Herbert said, “One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters.” The advancement, improvement and the safety of the nation depend upon the perfect home, and earth’s noblest thing is the woman perfected in the wife, the mother who rules that home. The husband’s character and work, the child’s love and life, are dependent upon her; what she is they will be.

The history of the home life of our famous men demonstrate that it was a woman’s love, encouragement and help that inspired them to the noblest purposes, and through her influence they became a power for good.

A man may build a palace, but he can never make of it a home. The spirituality and love of a woman alone can accomplish this. By right divine these are a woman’s special and unrivaled privileges.


Throughout the broad highways of life we find the gates have been opened by a long procession of noble women.

In the hospitals by the battlefields of the Crimea, Miss Nightingale gave cheerfully and unfailingly her own vitality for the comfort and new life of the soldiers.

The name of Clara Barton means the greatest of humanitarian movement. Incredible exposures, tainted atmosphere, of battlefields and hospitals, unremitting care for wounded soldiers, a life of love and sacrifice are all associated with her name.

In prisons and reformatories we find the influence of Mary Carpenter, Sarah Martin and Angela Coutts. They, by lifelong efforts, lessened the hours of imprisonment, provided employment, education and shelter for the unfortunates and left names ever to be associated with foremost deeds in philanthropy and self-sacrifice.

In the broad fields of literature we are influenced by Harriet Martineau’s untiring work in education, government, woman’s rights, temperance and political economy. Here, too, was Fredrika Bremer, the Swedish authoress, Charlotte Bronté and her experience with soul-despairing fate, Louisa Alcott, a providential gift to father, mother, sisters, and hundreds of girls, and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’ long struggle for the oppressed.

Trained for the profession as physicians, conquering much that threatens womanhood, are the names of Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell, our country’s earliest and noblest women physicians. Dr. Zakrzewska’s struggles and victories have made the path smoother and easier for other women who would study medicine, and the work of Cordelia Green inspires many a girl to enter the profession of giving life and strength to humanity.

The schools founded by Mary Lyon, the organized training schools of Catherine Beecher, the American work in kindergarten instruction by Elizabeth Peabody, all point to a path and a place in the educational world for the young girl of to-day.

In the scientific field the observations and discoveries of Caroline Herschel and Maria Mitchell demonstrate the work is not beyond that of a woman. The world wide-fame and true, faithful works of Rosa Bonheur, Susan Hale, Sarah Clarke, Anne Whitney and Harriet Hosmer are an inspiration to the girl who would enter the studio and produce true art and beauty.

A woman’s place to-day, as in the early years, must largely be defined by her taste, capacity and health.

“Blessed is she who has found her place, and is conscious that her efforts are strong links in the endless chain of woman’s life and work.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXVIII

The history of the home life of our famous men demonstrate that
text unchanged
[Men demonstrate; history demonstrates.]

Dr. Zakrzewska’s struggles and victories
[This is the only time Dr. Zak’s name is spelled right.]

the work of Cordelia Green inspires many a girl
spelling unchanged: error for Greene





HOTOGRAPHY is especially adapted to a woman’s artistic taste and delicate touch. Many girls practicing photography as amateurs, do their work well and it seems unaccountable why so many who reach a creditable degree of excellence in the work should be satisfied and so cease to produce better results. Why should they not continue in the art, master every detail, enter the field as professionals, and pursue the work as a business? Hundreds of women might accomplish far more in this occupation than at present.

Is it lack of energy, of courage or capital that deters them? It cannot be lack of energy, for the hours spent in the work by the ambitious, enthusiastic and painstaking amateurs prove the contrary. It should not be on account of insufficient courage, for it has been said that “the business woman is a nineteenth century production. She is honestly proud of her work, and of being a link in the great chain which keeps the business world moving.” The hesitation should not be based upon the plea of “no capital,” for the bright, determined girl of the present will always overcome this difficulty.

The work is not too difficult for a woman. For years it was regarded as a particularly occult and mysterious process, requiring a special gift, a knowledge of chemistry and years of professional study. During these years photography, to the woman, suggested untidy work, blackened hands, and soiled aprons. 243 To-day it is acknowledged to be a fascinating work, easily understood, requiring no superior knowledge, and demanding but a comparatively short time of study and preparation.

The introduction of electric lights, dry plates, light machinery, and dainty photographic devices renders the work more agreeable and available to women, besides offering at the present day a most inviting field.

Nearly two-thirds of a photographer’s patrons are women and children, and a woman photographer of pleasing manners, obliging disposition and artistic sense is most successful in securing happy results when the critical moment of posing arrives. There is but one best position, one best view of all objects. It is acknowledged that in woman the artistic sight is more perfectly developed than in man. This natural gift enables her to immediately discover the one best position—the one best view of her subject.

A woman quickly grasps the beautiful and harmonious in nature and in art. She naturally understands posing, colors in dress, and all the details that make up the artistic photographs of women and children. She will quickly tell why this line, shade or curve is more desirable. She possesses the faculty of bringing out the best in the patron who poses before her.

Many years elapsed in the history of photography before the public became assured of these neutral gifts in women—gifts so admirably adapted to this work, so favorably suited to its success. The photographers in several of our cities were assured of woman’s efficiency in this work after securing her aid in their studios. It was when thus employed as assistants that women fully realized their adaptability, discovered opportunities for improvement, and resolved to pursue the work as a profession.

Mrs. Julia Cameron, of England, early realized that the ideal portrait consists in portraying a glimpse of a man’s soul; not only the face but the intellect, the genius, the spirit in its completeness—these must all enter into the faithful portrait. This she aimed to accomplish and seldom has the work been more satisfactorily accomplished. She produced portraits which were an immediate inspiration to others who were striving to do sincere and truthful work. It is said: “She was of a most distinguished and fine nature, and was of unique pre-eminence in the profession of which she has made a great and noble name.” Tennyson was her neighbor, and often he posed for her. The faces of Browning, Carlyle, Sir John Herschel, Charles Darwin and Tennyson were among her noblest of English portraits. In these she succeeded in portraying the loftiest aim and the utmost steadfastness which were the principles of their lives. It is this that vivifies their portraits. “When I have had these men before my camera,” she once said, “my whole soul has endeavored to do its duty toward them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of 244 the outer man.” This is the secret of her power and her success: “Truth in art for truth’s sake.” It has been said that her work merits comparison only with the best portraits from the old masters.

London to-day has the most celebrated woman photographer in the world. Miss Alice Hughes, the daughter of Edwin Hughes, the portrait painter, has earned this enviable reputation.

Her photographs are more expensive than any others produced in London, and yet she is scarcely able to attend to her orders. Her work is all done at her home in Gower street, London, and here there are no surroundings usually associated with photographic galleries, No outward sign on portal or windows suggests the atelier. Her studio is built out over the garden and from the drawing-room one descends to it by three or four steps. The secret of her success is that she makes her subjects perfectly at ease. She lets them pose themselves and makes only the changes that are absolutely necessary. Among her photographs are nearly all of our American girls who married Englishmen, from Lady Randolph Churchill to Lady Terence Blackwood.

Mrs. Emily Stokes, of Boston, is an example of what a woman may accomplish in photography. When compelled by misfortune to give up her London home, she came to America to begin life among strangers. Having been associated with enthusiastic photographers in England, and believing that the position could be filled by women as well as men, she resolved to enter the field as a professional. For sixteen years she has aimed to produce the true child portrait. She has conquered difficulties, and is an enthusiastic and successful artist. “This one thing I know,” she said brightly, and it would be well if many girls could say the same. “I know every detail of the work; it is the only way to success,” she added, as she glanced about the room at the pictures of sweet child faces.

Since the first public exhibition of photographs in London in 1852, and especially since the Paris Exposition in 1889, photography as an art has steadily advanced, and in the recent exhibitions in European and American cities the photographs executed by many women have been an inspiration urging others to enter the field. Not only have these women exhibited portraits, but their photographs of landscapes, marine views, mineral and vegetable specimens have won for them a wide reputation.

Some of the most beautiful photographs in the United States have been produced by Miss Johnston, of Washington. She has attained a superior degree of excellence in all her work. As a professional she ranks among the list of leading photographers in the country. The truthfulness and artistic beauty in all her photographs have earned for her a name pre-eminent among photographers. She has done much work for newspapers and magazines, giving to the public truthful pictures of much that is constantly occurring in the public life of the capital city.


photograph of Franklin Park, Boston, with lake and trees



Miss Beatrice Tonnesen, of Chicago, has opened a studio in that city, and her photographs of women and children, especially the latter, are already noted for their beauty.

Mrs. Farnan, a California woman, has earned the reputation of accomplishing remarkable results in photography.

In February, 1896, the Youth’s Companion offered prizes for the eight best amateur photographs submitted during the following six months. Over six thousand photographs were received in response to the offer. Miss Emma Farnsworth, of Albany, N. Y., submitted a most truthful scene, “When the Day’s Work is Done.” This was awarded the first prize, and strikingly illustrates the perfection to which a young woman has brought her art.

Others who obtained prizes were Mrs. Sarah Holm, of Wisconsin, and Miss Kate Matthews, of Kentucky.

The girl who decides to leave the army of amateurs and enter the professional arena must feel assured that she has patience, an artistic taste, determination and business ability. She must be willing to inform herself of the multitudinous operations to be performed; she must expect waste and loss, and she must be able to rise above disappointments and trials. To be successful in working a “four-by-five” outfit does not imply an equal success with an “eighteen-by-twenty-two.” The ability to make a few blue-prints daily does not mean equal success in producing five hundred to one thousand a day in albumen, ilo or platinotype. To be able to please a few interested, intimate friends is widely different from contending with the capriciousness of disinterested strangers. To take a picture and secure a local artist to do all the work requires little ability when compared with understanding the operating, printing, mounting and finishing. Possession and production are widely different in their meaning. It is one thing to work for pleasure and one’s self and quite another to work for profit and the public.

Too often a girl thinks if she buys a camera, some plates and a few chemicals she can become a photographer. In her mind all that is necessary is to expose the plate properly, develop it, print from it, tone and fix the prints, and then the art will be mastered. She forgets that few can expose a plate with perfect success, that judicious, painstaking care is necessary to develop it, and that toning requires skill. It must not be supposed that with the cheapness of material and the present comparative simplicity in applying it, the pictures require less care than formerly. The conditions of light and composition are the same as they were in the early days of photography, and the laws of lenses and theories of light must still be studied with the greatest care.

The girl who would be a photographer should consider her adaptability for the work, and, having decided to pursue the occupation, she will do well to work with some reliable firm. When once an opportunity is found in some photographic 247 studio she must work earnestly and hard in learning the details of the work. After a short time is given she will obtain a position as assistant in the work. If she be on the alert for opportunities she will, when fitted, find the right locality and here build up a business of her own. The cost of materials, furniture, rent, wages and the fund for emergencies must then be considered. One young woman of the East fitted up a skylight for fifty dollars. The expense incurred will vary according to the taste of the young woman. Once furnished and equipped the subsequent outlay is but trivial, and if good work is furnished the profits are assured. A young woman may choose to devote herself to but one branch of the work. Should she excel she will find with determination the opportunity of assisting in some large studio. The operator and the one who poses the subject hold positions of importance and responsibility and are usually paid the highest salary. An education in photographic science is required, a knowledge of light and its effects, an artistic taste, and a knowledge of theories that constitute art in portraiture. Women who excel in these, who are professionals, will receive from fifteen to fifty dollars a week.

Especially adapted to a woman’s delicate touch is the process of retouching photographic negatives. Before entering upon this branch of the work it is essential that she should draw and possess a knowledge of anatomy, especially of the face, neck and shoulders. If the work be undertaken without this knowledge, distorted, unnatural productions will be shown, and failure will result. The work also requires strong eyes, for the use of artificial light is a constant strain upon the eye. The amount paid for this work in large cities varies from ten to fifteen dollars a week.

Printing is the most interesting part of the work. Several women in the larger studios receive from twelve to eighteen dollars each week.

Girls who enter the work to mount the pictures should be alert, detect at a glance any imperfection, and must have artistic feeling.

During the past thirty years there has been a demand for the application of color to photographs, and to-day hundreds of young women are devoting themselves to supplying the demand. The technique of the work is simple. Many women earn from twelve to fifteen dollars a week by executing orders. After a short course of study they are able to earn more. A knowledge of drawing is necessary, or the artist is unable to produce form, and the work is flat or distorted; there must also be a knowledge of color, or the tints will be dry and hard.

One young lady of the East has supplied the teachers of schools with figure subjects. She has reproduced with exactness the little dramas and comedies of life. Here there are pictures of boys, their work and pastimes; school girls in their natural pleasures or duties. Kites, hoops, marbles, tops, dogs, are all so truthfully pictured that the teacher is seldom required to tell long stories for the 248 children’s amusement and instruction, for the photograph’s explanation is clear, and from these the numerous stories are told or written.

Another young woman with her camera has reproduced engravings, and her copies of famous old pictures in European galleries and prized ones in America, have earned for her reputation and profit.

One woman makes a specialty of children’s photographs, another confines her work to landscapes, a third takes photographs of interesting events in the city and sends them to the illustrated papers.

Everywhere in the scientific world the power of the photographic camera has been felt. Physics, Chemistry, Mechanics, Astronomy, Zoology convince one that by patience and study a woman may put her camera to a most excellent use.

Many eminent scientists are constantly preparing and publishing scientific papers. However perfect their language may be, however clearly their thoughts may be expressed, the words are often found inadequate to convey an actual visual impression. These papers, to satisfy the public and make the thoughts of more value, should be illustrated. The old illustrations of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish are frequently untrue, misshapen representations.

The young woman whose photographic work possesses merit and accuracy may in this field pursue her work to most profitable ends and to the advancement of learning. This field is full of interest to the gifted young photographer, but one in which ingenuity is demanded.

This is an age of books and book illustrations. The various processes of book illustration are annually enriched by new applications of photography. The present knowledge of the flights of birds and the motions of animals can be produced by the camera in a most accurate degree. Here the young woman may choose her work, and if she would succeed she must strive for the best and seek to do not only good work but a superior quality of work.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXIX

skip to next chapter

The best is yet to come: Dorothea Lange was born in 1895, Margaret Bourke-White in 1904.

before the public became assured of these neutral gifts in women
text unchanged: error for natural?

Mrs. Julia Cameron, of England, early realized
[She is in the past tense because she died in 1879.]

from Lady Randolph Churchill to Lady Terence Blackwood
[For variety’s sake, the names are correct. The two American heiresses each married a Lord Firstname, the younger son of a duke or marquess, and thus became Lady His-First-Name.]

producing five hundred to one thousand a day in albumen, ilo or platinotype.
. invisible





HEREVER architecture leads, decorative art follows.

While there are women there will be homes; and women will never cease to desire beauty and attractiveness in their homes. This desire is inborn and universal. The home of every woman should be as individual a possession as her wardrobe and requires equal care and taste in the selection and purchase.

A home manifesting an air of taste, refinement and classic simplicity is far more desirable and is a better indication of the owner’s character and education, than the possession of a costly, inharmonious, unrelated array of paintings, porcelains, rugs and bric-a-brac. The perfectly furnished home is a crystallization of culture, expressing the habits, tastes and character of the family. Strangers, visitors and friends will judge the woman by the taste, comfort and equipments of her home.

It is the woman’s hand that can and has given to many a home that mysterious, nameless charm, that atmosphere of harmony and quiet happiness which is felt in the very entrance hall. Such women have possessed unconsciously a knowledge of the laws of color and harmony and have been naturally endowed with the requirements which make many a woman of to-day the successful interior decorator.

Within the past two decades the profession has grown to such a remarkable extent that it has brought about a revolution in many American homes. During the past few years some of the most notable successes of women have been achieved in the art of interior decoration.


It is as impossible to overestimate the importance of her work in the art as it is impossible to overestimate the importance of beautiful and tasteful surroundings in real life. Goethe said no man leaves a room the same person that he entered it, and if this be true then the room should attune his spirit to harmony, dignity and truthfulness. Every parent to-day realizes the duty of surrounding his child with beauty and fitness; it is his duty to establish a standard of taste in his children which will endure throughout their lives.

In the days of Jewish history woman’s inherent love for personal beauty and artistic surroundings was manifested in the skill with which she embroidered veils for herself, for her home and her sanctuary. Grecian mythology teems with stories of the women who performed work for the decoration of their homes. In all ages, when the arts have flourished, every part of a room has been adorned with ornament.

The Egyptian women decorated their walls. The Byzantine women, the Moors, the Greek and Roman women never held plain walls in good repute. Even the women among the cave-dwellers decorated the interior of their homes with bone ornaments.

The Japanese women excelled in the simplicity of their home decorations. An air of elegance, refinement and serenity of mind is manifested in their quiet, airy, open rooms. Here there is no crowding, no incongruous objects, but everywhere appropriateness and harmony of coloring with exquisite workmanship. Here there is no false standard of display. The Japanese women as interior decorators teach us the “simple grace of not too much.”

The women in England’s homes were surrounded by examples from which they felt beauty and inspiration. Growing up amid great museums, rare collections, noble old houses, depositories of accumulated art treasures, rich interiors, famous architecture, is it not a natural consequence that their homes should exhibit the influence of high art?

Mary Moser, of England, who was early admitted as a member of the royal academy, earned the reputation of an interior decorator. She was much admired by Queen Charlotte, and she, at one time, decorated a room at Frogmore for four thousand five hundred dollars. This room was one of the earliest examples of interior decoration by a professional woman artist.

Miss Robinson, of England, superintended all the interior fittings and decorations of the ocean steamship “Campania,” of the Cunard line. The appropriateness, taste and skill combined with its magnificence are a proof of what a woman may accomplish with patience and persistence. She was conscious of her natural artistic instincts, and so received thorough instruction in the art. In Manchester, after opening her rooms of artistic furniture, failure seemed imminent; few orders and no sales resulted from the venture. The few orders 251 were executed with such satisfaction that others followed. At the Manchester Exhibition, her fittings attracted the attention of the royalty and won for her the appointment of “Decorator to the Queen.” Success followed. A branch office was opened in London. Her decorations were soon seen in hotels, theatres, churches and homes. Miss Robinson is said to be the first woman to receive recognition from Her Majesty.

The women of America grew up amid different surroundings from those of their English sisters. It was and is necessary for Americans to create examples of this decorative art.

For years in the United States, buildings remained without ornament. Hotels, theatres, churches and a few homes of the wealthy were ornamented later, but not until the past few years has a general taste for interior decoration been manifest.

This present decorative impetus is largely due to the Centennial Exposition in 1876. The present movement owes its origin largely to the women, who quickly gained a general idea of the true meaning and importance of the art of decoration.

Women eagerly urged the manufacture of more artistic materials, new industries were the result of urgent requests for more artistic stuffs and metals. Several women from this time gave their attention to the study of the best mode of treatment for the adornment of American homes, and as Americans are receptive people, the new work quickly gained lodgment. To-day the demand for good decorators has almost exceeded the supply of competent artists in this work. Everywhere people are waiting for information, ideas, and designs, regarding their homes. They are on the alert for anything new, suggestive, appropriate and beautiful.

The interiors of our public buildings and homes are daily being prepared for the decorator of taste—the artist who excels in the work.

Among the most successful of interior decorations done by women, those in our own colonial style rank among the highest in simplicity, appropriateness, suggestiveness and intelligence.

In reproducing the interior decoration of different periods or peoples, American women have been most successful in the Moorish and Japanese styles. The old bamboos, curious bronzes, carved teak wood, celestial porcelains, Japanese flower panels, swinging seats and curiously wrought lanterns make a most interesting and pleasing effect.

Several firms of women house-decorators in New York have succeeded to a most gratifying extent both artistically and financially. These women are always prepared to make designs and decorate one room, a suite, or a whole house. Estimates of the cost are given. One firm began business in 1882, and employs 252 from fifty to sixty women, who design and make hangings for houses, and superintend the interior decoration. During the past ten years this firm has produced more than five hundred designs in silks and cottons which have been manufactured and sold throughout the United States.

Mrs. Candace Wheeler, of New York City, is the leading spirit of the firm called the Associated Artists. About 1880 she began a business in a modest, unpretentious way, and to-day its influence is felt in homes from New York to San Francisco. Mrs. Wheeler’s draperies, hangings, tables, stands, fabrics, show a peculiar artistic beauty and fitness. Her skill demonstrates what a woman may accomplish in this field of work.

Since the inauguration of this little band of artists in New York, a revolution has taken place in elaborate interior decoration in America.

This society has elaborated curtains for theatres, balls, decorations for the interior of churches, club-houses and other public buildings.

Under the direction and inspiration of Mrs. Wheeler (Dora Wheeler Keith), Miss Emmet and Miss Clark, the art of interior decoration has been brought to what was formerly considered an impossible degree of excellence. The footsteps of these few brave women have made a wide path in this new field.

Here true art and manufacturing industry are blended in their own furniture, inlay work, ceiling decorations, wall papering, panelings, parquetry floors and glass mosaics.

The products of American looms never before included such filmy silks and damasks, and the tints surpassed those in the gown of Enid of old.

Hardly a building of magnificence in the country does not possess some work of the Associated Artists. It may be a dull Japanese portière for the Veterans’ Rooms of the Seventh Regiment Armory, or a curtain of cloth of gold for the library of the Union League, but in all, excellence and marvelous taste is displayed.

All “Wellesley girls” are familiar with the beautiful frieze in the Browning Room at the college. This is composed of flower panels, painted by Miss Ellen Robbins, of Boston. These exact reproductions of familiar flowers show in design and color absolute truth in following nature.

Miss Grace Lincoln Temple, of Washington, D. C, has worked up to a prominent position in interior decoration. She had charge of the decorations in the Woman’s Building at the Atlanta Exposition in 1895, and her work then made an impression that was national and everywhere favorable.

Every woman who is planning a home is ambitious and anxious that it manifest a superior taste and refinement in its furniture and decorations.

This may be the old country place to be remodeled into the repose and dignity of a colonial home, the winter rooms in the city or in the South, the 253 summer cottage by seaside, or the mountain home; wherever it is to be, artistic ideas are demanded, and each style of building, location and surroundings calls for its own particular adornment and treatment. Every woman, when planning or purchasing, is apprehensive; she fears that this or that acquisition may not be the correct purchase. This work of planning and purchasing is often a serious perplexity, and too frequently vexation and disappointment attend the final disposition or arrangement. Two contiguous objects are incongruous. The Naples yellow tint in the new and expensive rug mars and absolutely destroys the delicate canary yellow of the walls. How vexatious it all is! In this extremity one must do one of three things: be reconciled, exchange the rug or have the walls redecorated. Inharmonious rugs, draperies, ceiling or wall decorations may mar the beauty of a home when with proper treatment these would have been a delight, and all this might have been accomplished at the same expense. It is in just such instances that the professional interior decorator’s knowledge is demanded, appreciated and prized. Women, from these experiences, foresaw the necessity of trained artists for this work, and earnestly made preparations to conquer all difficulties.

Among the first women who resolved to master the art—art it is—was a young Eastern woman. She was conscious of possessing an artistic taste of more than ordinary excellence. She resolved to study diligently and earnestly the needs of home-makers in regard to interior decorations and furnishings.

It was an unknown path, and she had for a guide only her love and taste for the work. Her capital in stock was represented by a little knowledge of the general rules of decorative art, the harmonies of color, good judgment, artistic perception and a fair amount of business ability.

Thus equipped, she searched through the various art and decorative magazines, she purchased manuals and hand-books of decoration, and resolved to succeed. She at once classified the hints given. In the index to her blank-books were the styles: Moorish, Turkish, Japanese, Roman, Dutch, Louis Quatorze, Louis Quinze, Henri Deux and Colonial. She studied the characteristic features of each style, the simple but definite suggestions and descriptions applying to each, and enlarged upon many by adding original designs.

Then she studied the effects produced by certain treatments of rooms. Halls, reception rooms, libraries, dining-rooms that were large, small, high, low, dark or sunny, received careful study. Her investigations included the best tone and coloring for the rooms; frieze, wood-tints, wall-papers, curtains, portières, rugs, coverings, in fact every detail from a scheme for ceiling decoration to the skins and mosaic of the parquetry on the floor were earnestly studied, together with the quantity, quality and effect of different light, the surroundings and the inmates of the home.


She then secured her samples of carpets, wall-papers, paints and silks. Arranged on her tables were the cool shades adapted to entrance-halls, staircases and vestibules; the quiet tones in olives, bronzes and greens for the library, the warm rich shades required for the dining-rooms, the light and airy tones for drawing-rooms and boudoirs.

In addition to these she secured samples illustrating that important and underlying principle of color gradation. A floor covering of pure strong tone, the wall decoration carrying out the next gradation, and the correct tint for ceiling to complete last gradation. This was her preparation.

She then sent her cards to a number of friends and acquaintances, announcing herself as ready to furnish them with suggestions and plans for interior decorations and furnishings.

Her first efforts, like those of others in all work, were of necessity limited to a small territory, but her energy, ability, superior taste and judgment were at once recognized. Her work broadened. Each new order when filled, caused the next to look less formidable, and each new decoration represented her best work. She soon required assistants, and to-day many Eastern homes show the skill and resolution of this young woman.

“How may I become a successful interior decorator?” is the question asked by the girl of to-day.

Go to some art school or school of design; seek a thorough training—one which will enable you to make broad schemes, comprehensive combinations; which will teach you the laws of harmony and color effect, and that mechanical and mathematical knowledge founded upon the immutable laws of both nature and science. All this knowledge is necessary. Then obtain the co-operation of some architect; for the day has arrived when architecture and interior decoration go hand in hand. They are dependent upon each other for the realization, the perfection of the highest in art.

Nearly every large city has its art schools. In these schools the average yearly fees rarely exceed one hundred dollars. Exceptional work, marked talent or promise of superior skill may win a free scholarship.

At the School of Applied Design in New York over two hundred pupils assemble in the different classes.

Here young girls of sixteen are working side by side with women of fifty. Here one’s amateur accomplishments may be directed to practical use.

At the Cooper Union, one of the famous art schools for women in New York, there are free classes. In order to enter these, each applicant must furnish proof that she is unable to pay for instruction.

It is not desirable that applicants should be under sixteen years of age, and no applicant over thirty-five years old is received.


To the girl who is unable to attend a school, there is the chance of serving an apprenticeship to some firm of interior decorators. With natural ability, taste, keen observation, and love for work, she may at length become an assistant.

Such a young woman will soon learn that the first principles of successful decoration lie in harmony of color. She will next learn that the first, accurate and best teacher of color is nature. Nature’s classes are free. It has been said, “An intelligent study of the distribution of tints in the natural world will make a successful colorist.” Nature never errs, her tints and shades never jar, and here everything works together for beauty. Ruskin dwells constantly upon this fact.

What are the chances for success in this work?

A woman, who, at a glance, can grasp the situation of a home, the character of its occupants, who can understand just what will be appropriate, who possesses the power to please individually and collectively, who can group all things in perfect harmony and unerringly combine tints that charm, will find her work in demand, her remuneration gratifying and her success assured.

Fewer occupations are better adapted to a woman’s taste; few offer a greater scope of originality and in none will the true artist more rapidly advance.

Hundreds of women whose environment and opportunities prevent them from entering more popular or more familiar fields may find their true place among the interior decorators.

This work meets the needs of the rich, and the field is not crowded. The work also meets the needs of the middle class of people whose refinement and cultivation apparently exceed the means for gratifying their desires in reference to home decoration. To the girl who will make a special study of decorations, and furnishings suited to the demands of this class, who will be quick to follow the popular taste in a way equally effective but less expensive, there is a larger, surer opening, for the value of interior decoration depends not so much upon the richness of material as in harmony of color.

Where is the most desirable place to pursue this work? Where shall I meet with the greatest success? If unknown, and with few resources, the struggle in the city may convince one that “art is long.”

In a large and prosperous town a woman’s success may be more prompt. She will be able to provide material far more artistic and beautiful than the average local shopkeeper can afford to keep in stock. This local shopkeeper, too, rarely possesses the taste or understands the art even if he could afford to keep the materials.

Among a few thousand inhabitants her ideas, her ability and taste in interior appointments will be recognized almost immediately. Her samples of artistic goods are soon known by all, and appreciated. A business here means less advertising, less capital, less competition. If she excels in her work, she will 256 find the radius lengthening and she will soon be employed in decorating the suburban homes of the city.

If the young woman chooses to locate in the metropolis, she will do well to associate herself at once with architects and co-operate with them. If her work possess real merit, her success will come, although not as promptly as she might wish.

Is it possible to make this work profitable financially? Yes; if you have business faculty. No; if you possess only the artistic ability and lack those business qualities which so essentially attend the success of any occupation in this present age of competition. You may have talent, pre-eminent talent, your work may call forth praise and admiration, but you cannot live upon these prized phrases uttered so often by admiring friends. Praise is a sorry and uncertain crutch to lean upon when traveling in your field. The harvest will yield but poor profits.

If one can study but one branch of the work, which is the most advisable? The decoration of homes is productive of most good, in that here the inmates are daily influenced by the work.

Churches have from time immemorial been the recipients of priceless treasures of art and craftsmanship, and to-day these buildings afford a large field for the decorator, for in all true art there is religion.

There is another public building in which interior decorations should be given more attention; this is the school. In what better place can permanent, artistic decoration fill so important a part in stimulating the imagination and forming the minds? Leading, distinctive and impressive subjects should here be seen. Whether in painting or sculpture, a suggestive, appropriate decoration here would be a daily inspiration to thousands of minds that would retain the influence throughout their lives, and make them nobler and happier.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XL

The Japanese women excelled in the simplicity of their home decorations.
[It has been pointed out that this stark simplicity can only be achieved by half the population continuously picking up after the other half.]

Mary Moser, of England, who was early admitted as a member of the royal academy
[In 1768, Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffman were the two female founding members of the Royal Academy. After both had died, there would be no more women until Laura Knight in 1936.]

Mrs. Wheeler’s draperies, hangings, tables, stands, fabrics
comma after “hangings” invisible

All “Wellesley girls” are familiar with the beautiful frieze in the Browning Room at the college
[Opened in 1880 in a building that was destroyed by fire in 1914, so we have only black-and-white photographs.]

The Naples yellow tint in the new and expensive rug

[Today, “Naples Yellow” is in the range of this or this, though some sources appear rather more garish.]

In the index to her blank-books were the styles: Moorish, Turkish, Japanese . . .
[Leo Rosten has a piece about an interior decorator trying to ascertain what “period” his nouveau-riche client is interested in. Client replies, “I want my friends should walk in, take one look and drop down dead—period.” But how long ago was this “young Eastern woman” working? By 1897, “Mission style” should also be on the list.]

. . . Louis Quatorze, Louis Quinze, Henri Deux and Colonial
[Henri II of France (reigned 1547–1559) is dynastically significant because all four of his sons died childless. (Thanks to the Salic law, his daughters simply didn’t exist.) France then had to go back ten generations before picking up the patrilineage.]

Fewer occupations are better adapted to a woman’s taste
text unchanged: expected Few

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.