Frances E. (Frances Elizabeth) Willard.

Occupations for women. A book of practical suggestions, for the material advancement, the mental and physical development, and the moral and spiritual uplift of women online

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Online LibraryFrances E. (Frances Elizabeth) WillardOccupations for women. A book of practical suggestions, for the material advancement, the mental and physical development, and the moral and spiritual uplift of women → online text (page 6 of 44)
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if desired; although the field which they especially undertook to cover was the
city itself In connection with its guides it established a bureau of information
for boarding- and lodging-houses, suitable for women who were traveling without
men protectors. The idea proved a most happy one, and the women connected
with it speedily had all they could do, and their office became one of the most
popular points in the cit}' of London, especially for women. In these days of
telegraph and cable it takes an idea but a short time to travel, and so eager are
women for the new employments that are open to them that they no sooner hear
of any experiment in an industrial line than they go ahead and tr}- it for

The work in London was reported in New York, when straightway it was taken
up and an association formed which is called " The New York Ladies' Guide and
Chaperon Bureau." With the establishment of this association, the time has
passed when the unj^rotected woman may look forward to a visit to New York
with trepidation. It has issued a circular which it is .sending about, and a few
quotations are given from it so that the girls who read may have some notion of
the work. It is even more far-reaching than the one in London, and has added



quite a number of new features. The circular informs the public that their guides
have a practical knowledge of the history of all important places of interest, and,
being armed with the association's badge and credentials, receive a more cordial
recognition than the mere stranger. From these advantages and from the varied
experience among shops of all kinds, the benefit to be derived is self-evident.

The chaperons, selected with the utmost care, place at the disposal of the
3^oung ladies whose mothers or guardians are unable to accompan}- them, the
facilities so often required of going to the theatre or concert. Young ladies are
escorted from and to their homes; and school children to and from school. Choice
seats are furnished for all places of amusement, carriages are sent whenever
desired, direction given to permanent or transient guests for the best hotels and
boarding-houses, rooms are engaged in advance, railway and steamboat tickets
and berths are engaged, strangers coming to the city are met at the station if
desired, and all arrangements made for their comfort during their sta3^

The association also sends out home or foreign excursion parties of ladies
under the care of experienced chaperons who attend to all ordinary and necessary
details. The circular goes on to say: " The bureau can be used to great advan-
tage by those living in the suburbs, expecting friends whom it is desired they
should meet; by telephoning to the bureau a chaperon can be sent who will
conduct the visitor from one station to another and save time and mone}- for the
patron without discourtesy to her friend. A new and important feature of our
work is to provide lady experts to assist in or take full charge of the interior
decoration of a house, furnishing it throughout, selecting books for libraries, etc.
Elocutionists, pianists and singers supplied for entertainments. In short, there is
no aid or service that one woman may be able or required to render or perform for
another, that will not be cheerfull}^ undertaken and the best efforts made to give

In order that the bureau might be reall}^ of service, the charges were made
quite moderate, the following being the schedule adopted by the association:

Guides for shopping and sight-seeing, according to competenc}-, $3.00, $3.50
and $4.00 a day.

Those who act as interpreters, 50 cents to $1.00 a day additional.

Deductions are made for weekly engagements.

Chaperonage to the theatre $1.00. Chaperonage of children to and from
school $2.50 a week.

Directing to boarding-house 25 cents. Securing room and board 75 cents.

Securing seats for the theatre for one or more 50 cents.

Phj^sicians and lawyers recommended 50 cents.

Use of the room for changing toilet, meeting parties on bu.siness, etc., 50


Typewriting 5 cents per folio.

Meeting ladies at station, accompan3-ing young ladies and children, or any
brief service, 40 cents an hour.

Shopping orders executed for 5 per cent on the amount purchased.

This circular is issued by an association, but the rules and the scope of work
may give a hint to some young woman of what she herself may do. Great
succe.>^s has followed the innovation of the woman guide. It is the latest addition
to the forces of a New York hotel. The services of this woman guide are dail}'
in demand. Women of means, who have come to the city with their husbands
to see the lions, have generally had a stupid time and have often gone home with-
out the glimpse of even one lion. Business has kept the husband away all day
and the lonel}' wife has spent her time looking out of the hotel window. Now
she pays this young woman guide to show her all over the cit3\ The business is a
good one. if it /.y tiring. One guide said, "A tour of the picture galleries and
other points of interest about the city, including a spin through the park with a
description of the obelisk and the various statues and pictures in the Art Museum
and on the drives, cost $5.00; while a day at the shops cost my patron $10.00."

But women with money are willing to pay it.

Not every young woman can undertake the task of entertaining people — for
this is practically what a guide must do. There are certain indispensable
requisites. In the place, one must be well educated, able to talk well, and
imderstand all the history of places which she is to show. She must be well bred
and courteous, and tact, and have some knowledge of human
nature. Meeting many different kinds of people, as she must, she will need all
these qualifications. In the large cities .she must know w^hat is going on at the
various theatres and places of amusement, so as to know just where to take her
party. She must know the picture galleries, keep the run of the art exhibitions,
and know the best .shops for bargains. All this a bright, quick woman may easily
learn, and she may keep her knowledge at her tongue's end and her finger tips.

Having these requisites, with a fund of and good temper, and
being sure that she is ready to meet any emergencies that may arise, she may
start on her work. Of counse, she find a waj' to gain patronage. She
would do well to make friends with the leading hotel people and the best of the
.shop keepers. vShe should have cards prepared, stating what she is ready to do,
giving as references the name of her clergyman and one or two well-known men or
women whose names will carry weight with whoever may .see them. She should
leave these cards at the hotels and see personally every day that they are distrib-
uted to the newly arrived women guests. She should also insert an adverti.sement
in the leading papers, not only of her own city, but in the papers of cities at a
distance from her home. vShe should be at the various hotels at certain appointed




hours every day to see if anyone needs her services. All this time friends are
speaking for her, distributing her cards, and if she has any acquaintances in out-
Ij-ing cities, she asks them to recommend their friends to her care while in town.

In this wa}^ it will not take her long to work up a good business.

It should not need to be said — but alas, the necessity does exist for sa5-ing it
— a guide must take care to be well and quietly dressed. She must look and be
the refined, gracious woman, w^ho for the time is acting the part of hostess, and
she must bear in mind that to be anything less than refined in her outward
appearance would be an insult to her guest, or to the person who for the time
occupies the position of guest. A dark cloth tailor-made gown, with wrap and
bonnet to suit, immaculate linen, nice gloves and boots — and your are ready.
Wear a bonnet rather than a hat, for a bonnet is alwaj's ladylike, while there is
an informality about a hat that is not appropriate to the occasion.

You can make j'our prices from the circular that I have quoted to you,
varying them as it seems to you best, although this is a fair list. Of course it is
understood that ^-our patron pays your expenses, the car fares, lunches, carriage
rates, etc. That is, she may allow 3'ou to do it, but 3'ou must keep the account
and settle the expense at the end of each day.

If you are to meet a woman who is a stranger to ^-ou at one of the stations,
you may wear the badge which has been adopted by the New York Woman
Guides — a knot of blue and white ribbon on the left shoulder. She cannot then
mistake you.

Although this chaperon system has been some time in vogue in London,
it is comparativel}' new in New York, and there are many cities in which it does
not exist at all. Consequently, this new field is anything but crowded, and there
is room for ladylike, educated women who thoroughly understand themselves" and
the city in which they live. They must be able to see about hacks, plain baggage,
find expressmen, and settle all the preliminaries of hotel or boarding-house. In
short, they are supposed to be able to do everything for the healthy stranger
witliin the gates that a man could do, and much more besides. This gives you
possibly a fair idea of what the duties of the guide and chaperon must be.

As these duties will not probably fill all j-our time, those of you who under-
take them may add those of shopping on commission. In this friends living out-
side the citj' will be of great service to you. They may influence people to send
to you. and thus enlarge your business constant!}-. When once you are well
established, you will probably be able to make such terms with the leading
mercantile houses as will induce them to give you a commi.ssion on .sales in
addition to the commission j-ou receive from shoppers, and in this way you may
make >-our income from both sides. You could not attempt such an arrangement
in the beginning, for the houses would not enter into it until they found that your


business was a valuable one and that it paid them to induce you to bring it to

You will understand that the successful shopper must be a person of taste,
must know the very latest fashions as well as the most recent fads and notions;
she must possess good judgment in selection, an artistic eye in matching, and
understand the values of materials. I know one woman who makes a good income
by shopping on commission and doing nothing else. She not only shops for
out-of-town patrons, but she has a set of families in town whose principal purchases
she makes. She goes every morning to their houses, receives her commissions,
and goes out to fill them. In this case she is paid a certain salary instead of
commission on her purchases, because she must report for duty every morning,
whether there is anything to be done or not. Each family pays a small stated
sum — $2.00 or $2.50 a week and car fares — and with several families, this serves
to make a good income. She supports herself well and is educating a daughter at
the best schools b}' her business as a family shopper.

While hardly coming under the head of chaperon, there will perhaps be no
better place in which to refer to the scheme which one young woman has of earning
an income. She is ver}' fond of children and, in return, they are ver}- fond of
her. She has a fund of entertainment for the little ones, is a clever little story-
teller, knows all sorts of games, has all the nurser}' rhymes and children's songs
at her tongue's end, and she goes out by the hour as children's entertainer. She
is iti demand for children's parties, and man}- mothers put the planning and entire
carrying out of these little entertainments into her hand. She writes the invita-
tions, orders the refreshments, lays out the games, and when the time comes, is
on hand to assist the 3-oungsters at their merrymaking. In the houses where she
is an habitual visitor, no sort of a time is considered good by the children unless
she is in it. She amuses the little convalescents, reading and singing to them and
lulling them to sleep by her quiet, sweet waj^s. She advises mothers about the
dressing of the little ones, for she has the most exquisite taste. In short, one of
her patrons summed up her list of attainments by naming her "The mothers'
universal helper." Onh- the girl who loves children can make a success in this
special line, but every neighborhood must have at least one among its 3-oung
women who can take a place among the mothers of the communitj- in which she
lives similar to the one held by the girl just mentioned.



|X ALMOST ever}' town and village are young women and
girls who are anxious!}- asking what they can do in their
own community to earn a livelihood. The big outside
world has no attraction for them. They want to keep in
the shelter of the home which they love so well and which
seems a part of their very life, or there is somebody in
that home for whom they must be the horaekeepers.
Circumstance rather than desire or ambition must be the
governing power of their lives. If you would know how
large is this army of waiting women you should pass a
day at any of the women's exchanges or industrial
unions in the large cities and get the superintendent to tell you of the appeals that
come daily from Maine to Oregon, from Wisconsin to Florida; and the burden of
all the appeals is the same:

" Tell me what I can do at home to earn some money!"

I would like just here to tell 3'ou how the Boston Union came to be so
besieged with applicants. The story will interest }-ou and I am sure some will find
a word of needed warning and advice in it. A few years ago the newspapers in
city and countr}', daily and weekly, were filled with advertisements headed " Work
at Home," and promising that if women would send either one dollar or two, as
the case might be, they would receive instruction for art work which was to be
done at home, as well as the outfit for doing it, and that after they had learned
they would be supplied with steady work at good prices. You can have no idea
how the replies came. Dollars literally poured into the hands of the advertisers.
In return, a piece of very coarse velveteen stamped with a pattern and a few
needlefuls of silk would be sent, with the directions for working. When this
piece of embroidery was fini.shed it was to be returned to the supply company with
another dollar, and if it proved satisfactory, permanent work would be furnished.




In nearly everj- case there was no return for the last dollar. In hundreds of
instances the dollar or two could not be spared, and meant such sacrifices as few of
3'ou can understand. Presently this matter came to the notice of the Women's
Union in Boston and it set to work to stop the business. It obtained all the
evidence it needed and then sent its lawyers to the address given in the advertise-
ment. In most cases no responsible persons could be found, so nothing could be
done by law. It then interviewed the proprietors of all the leading newspapers,
with the result that such advertisements were refused place in the columns. It
couldn't get back the mone}- for the poor women who had already been duped, but
it might prevent others from becoming victims. In this way the work of the
Union began to be known ail over the country and women began to write there for
work. Of course the Union could not supply them ; it could only point out to them
what to avoid.

There was something shown by the flood of answers that came to this fraud-
ulent advertising. Not only were there hundreds, yes, thousands of women
wanting work, but the majority were anxious to, do " art " work of some kind.
Honest work that was genuinely practical found little favor in the eyes of the
multitude. The}^ seemed to have an idea that anything that was " art," no matter
how bad art it was, hadn't the flavor of labor about it. Even if it was work, it
was " genteel " work and " ladies" could do it. Now, girls, honestly, isn't that
silly and stupid ? If one finds it necessar)^ to do anything for monej^, wh}^ not
stand up squarel}- and face the fact and do the work that comes to be done, what-
ever it may be, in a straightforward fashion instead of dodging about under all
sorts of make-believes ?

I have already referred to the misuse of the term "ladies," and just here I
want to emphasize it. It is incorrect, a mistake in language, to speak of 3'ourself
or of any other person as "ladies " in connection with work of any kind. The
term "lady" presupposes leisure. In the same way the word "gentleman"
carries a like significance. Now you know verj' well that the term "gentleman
of " is never u.sed, and you certainly never heard of a " salesgentleman."
Aren't the very sounds ridiculous? And j^et your man of is more often
than not the polished, well-bred man of .societj^ with a position which no one can
di.spute. You can be well-bred women, even if 3'ou are work women. You may
be ladies at your lei.sure. But insisting on the term won't make you so. On the
contrary, the very of the word in connection with work stamps you at once as
ignorant, if not ill bred.

And now, if you are prepared to take up your work in true dignified work-
woman fashion, I have a suggestion to make to of you who have quick eyes,
deft fingers and a true taste. I might also add "an arti.stic instinct,' but I'm
getting to be a bit afraid of expressions of that kind. They're too apt to make


miscliief. Still, there is an art side to the occupation I am about to suggest, but
it must be taken sensibh- and not to the sacrifice of an3'thing else. I know you were
expecting something delightfully new, and I imagine I hear a murmur of deep
disappointment when I sa}- — dressmaking.

But you must understand that there is dressmaking and dressmaking. It is
not the old-fashioned kind that I am about to commend to you, but the new, which
has originality, idea and principles about it. The principles are beauty and
comfort; the idea is becomingness and health; and all of it combined constitute

I dare sa}- you have all read about dress reform, and have grown to
have a horror of the term because in the it has .stood for ugliness pure and
simple, and for crankiness unadulterated. Well, we won't talk about dress reform
any more, but in its place we will substitute the term, "artistic and hj'gienic
dressing;" that describes the new phase of it. This began with Cynthia Bates,
when she invented the waist that should take the place of corsets; it was to be
adapted to the figure rather than force the figure to be adapted to it. Bates
was a w'ise woman; she saw that invalidism for women was rapidty going out of
fashion, and that to be healthful was to be correct. She foresaw the generation
of golf playing, canoe paddling, horseback riding, bicycling, mountain-climbing
girls, devoted to athletics of all kinds, and she wi.sely made ready for them.
Room to develop, room to grow, w^as the principle upon which she built her waist.
She started no crusade against beaut}- — wise Miss Bates. ' ' Have everything as
pretty as you like," she said, "but above all, be true to nature." Indeed,
through all her business Miss Bates has preached the true gospel of beauty. At
first women eyed the waists askance; they were suspicious of innovation, but b}'
degrees they became convinced; and the best proof of Miss Bates' success is the
large number of patent health waists that have been put upon the market since
Miss Bates introduced hers, and the numbers that are sold.

But that was only the beginning, and it was left to another woman to make
a rounding-out of the idea of proper dress. If there is anybody in the world that
does not believe that a healthful dress can be a pretty one, I onty wish that she
could see some of the delicious gowns that Mrs. Annie Jenness Miller evolved
from that keen brain of hers. Thej' keep close enough to the line of the fashion
not to seem queer, but each gown is original and picturesque, having in it the
very spirit of graceful and becoming dressing, at the same time it is on strictly
hygienic principles. Now there are hundreds of women who would like to adopt
this dress plan, but their own dressmakers turn up their noses at it, and it is, as a
rule, impossible to get such dresses made.

I venture to sa}' the reason why so few dressmakers take it up is because it
does require originality and arti.stic instinct to make it successful, but the girl or


woman who is artistic in her feelings and who has a gift of expressing these
feelings has here a field open before her that she will find very remunerative. It
requires more skill to make dresses in this way than in the stereotj-ped fashion
because so much depends on individual expression.

Here is an open field that is, as yet, practically unexploited. So man}- others
are overburdened with workers, but this invites the workers to come into it. You
see I was right w'hen I told you there was dressmaking and dressmaking. One
must understand the principles of fitting, be a good needlewoman, have an eye
for color combination, and be able to adapt styles to different individuals. The
girl with originalit}' ma}" design for her different customers. If she have the
ability to do this she could be much more valuable than one who is able onl}' to
follow other people's models, and she may command a large price for her work.

There is hardly a tow^n of any size that will not support at least one dress-
maker of this kind, and she may either go to her own customers by the day, or
she may have them come to her house. Good dressmakers who go out get all the
w^ay from $3.00 to $4.00 a day, according to their ability and their originality.
These are city prices, of course; but I suppose there is no place where a stylish,
competent dressmaker with original ideas and a talent for making her customer
look her very best, would have less than the first named price. A girl could thus
have a good income and make herself invaluable to her emplo3'ers. At the same
time, she is doing something eminently satisfactorj- and is exercising her love for
the beautiful and refined. With right governing ideas of what is beautiful, it
must be a delight to work on the prett}' stuff that is used nowadays.

There are other branches of dressmaking to which a clever girl ma}' turn her
attention — making over dresses is one. There is a knack in making an old dress
look like a new one; and this knack once acquired is w-orth money to the w'oman
who will take pains to learn it thoroughly. There are plenty of women who are
willing to pay to have their old garments utilized. It is an economy which the
majority are compelled to practice; the only trouble, .so far, has been in having it
satisfactorily done. As a rule, the average dressmaker turns up her nose at the
very idea of remodeling, and refuses to take the pains with a gown which .she is
putting into new shape from old material, that she gives to that one made from
an entirely new fabric. Then again, not ever}' dres.smaker who is willing to make
over is successful in her attempt. It is really a profession by itself — this renovat-
ing and making over. Any young woman who will take up this branch alone is
sure to do well in any community of size.

A girl went to a town where she was unknown and hung out the regulation
sign " Fa.shionable Dre.ssmaking. " It didn't attract one customer. Not a single
soul even called to ask her prices. She didn't a ripple of curio.sity on the
.surface of that community's life. But that state of things couldn't When


she stopped counting the dollars in her purse because onl}- pennies remained, a
thought struck her; it was the inspiration born of despair. She had always been
successful in making over her old dresses, so that her friends used laughingly to
tell her that her remade old dresses looked better than their new ones. So she
took half her remaining mone}' and had another sign painted — " Dresses made
over." The old sign was taken down — this was hung in its place. It hadn't
been up half a day before a customer came. In time others came and it was not

Online LibraryFrances E. (Frances Elizabeth) WillardOccupations for women. A book of practical suggestions, for the material advancement, the mental and physical development, and the moral and spiritual uplift of women → online text (page 6 of 44)