Women’s Work: A Century of Maine Experience
Check out the links below to learn more about what type of work women in the region did during the 20th century.
P01987: The women in this picture worked in the lumber camps and lived in Lincoln County, Maine. It seems that they were in the middle of some chore when interrupted for this picture. What might they have been doing?
Women Work for Wages: In Maine they have worked as sardine packers, herring smokers, machine operators, potato pickers, blueberry rakers, broccoli harvesters, telephone operators, shoe makers, clothing and textile workers, secretaries and store clerks and paper makers. They worked in war industries during WWII and also took part in the time-honored traditional roles of nurses and teachers.
Women Owned Businesses: Women have been midwives, healers, dowsers, photographers, and writers. Some have started businesses for which they hired other laborers such as knitters and dressmakers. Some women took in ironing, washing, or boarders. Women have also owned and managed restaurants throughout the twentieth century.
Women Assisting Their Husband’s Work: Women often helped their husbands clear land, and cared for cattle and crops when their husbands had to travel to find work. Women assisted husbands with haying, milking, feeding new lambs, bookkeeping, and marketing.
The exhibit was designed in 1998 and used to be a traveling exhibit. Not all of that made it to the digital version of the exhibit. You may be interested to learn more about the exhibit by browsing through the text that was created for it. Click on the link below to read through the text.
Catalog numbers beginning with P indicate photos, NA indicates excerpts from oral history interviews, from the Northeast Archives of Folklore and Oral History (NAFOH), Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department, UMaine, Orono.
The photographs for this exhibit come from a variety of sources, and many are copyrighted. If you want to use any of these photographs, you must contact the owner to receive permission.
Women’s Folklife Exhibit Planning Committee: Pauleena MacDougall, Anu Dudley, Elizabeth Hedler, Mary Ellen Barns, Mary Jo Sanger, Mazie Hough, Bonita Parent Grindle, Rhea Cote Robbins, Carol Toner, Janet Givens, and Rae Barter.
Exhibit Design: Bonnie Bishop, assisted by Karen Wihbey and Rae Barter
Online Exhibit: Kathleen Martin
Exhibit Text: Pauleena MacDougall, assisted by Elizabeth Hedler, Elisabeth Hill, Anu Dudley, Carol Toner, and Mazie Hough.
Photo Contributions: Sandra Galley, The New England Museum of Telephony, Inc., Ellsworth; Alice Knight, Rockland; Lois Andrews, Eastern Fine Paper, Brewer; Warren Historical Society; Wm. H. Bunting, Whitefield; Julia Hunter, Maine State Museum, Augusta; Down East Magazine; SALT Magazine; Bangor Daily News, Rick Wilson, Brunswick; Becky Cole-Will, Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor; Harold Lacadie, Old Town; Winterport Historical Society; Androscoggin Historical Society; Kathy Van Gorder, West Tremont; Lyn Rogers; Tammy Packie, Bar Harbor.
Support for the exhibit was provided by the Maine Folklife Center and the Division of Lifelong Learning (Certificate in Maine Studies).