CHAPTER IX.

THE OCCUPATIONS OF NEGROES.

22. Occupations in the Seventh Ward.--Of the 257 boys between the ages of ten and twenty, who were regularly at work in 1896, 39 per cent were porters and errand boys; 25.5 per cent were servants; 16 per cent were common laborers, and 19 per cent had miscellaneous employment. The occupations in detail are as follows:1

Total population, males 10 to 20 651

 

Engaged in gainful occupations 257

 

Porters and errand boys 100

 

39.0 per cent

 

Servants 66

 

25.5 "

 

Common laborers 40

 

16.0 "

 

Teamsters

7

Apprentices

6

Bootblacks

6

Drivers

5

Newsboys

5

Peddlers

4

Typesetters

3

Actors

2

Bricklayers

2

Hostlers

2

Typewriters

2

Barber, bartender, bookbinder, factory hand, rubber-worker, sailor, shoemaker--one each

7

51

 

19.5 "
257

 

100 per cent

 

Of the men twenty-one years of age and over, there were in gainful occupations, the following:

In the learned professions 61

 

2.0 per cent.

Conducting business on their own account 207

 

6.5 "

In the skilled trades 236

 

7.0 "

Clerks, etc. 159

 

5.0 "

Laborers, better class 602
Laborers, common class 852
1454

 

45.0 "

Servants 1079

 

34.0 "

Miscellaneous 11

 

.5 "

3207

 

100 per cent

Total male population, 21 and over . . . . . 3850.2

 

This shows that three-fourths of the male Negroes ten years of age and over in gainful occupations are laborers and servants, while the remaining fourth is equally divided into three parts: one to the trades, one to small business enterprises, and one to professional men, clerks and miscellaneous employments.

Turning now to the females, ten to twenty years of age, we have:

Housewives

38

4.5 per cent

At work 3

289

36.5 "

At school

333

42.0 "

At home, unoccupied, etc.

133

17.0 "

Total female population 10-20

793

100 per cent.

 

Of the 289 at work there were:

In domestic service

211

73.0 per cent

Doing day's work

32

11.0 "

Dressmakers and seamstresses

16

5.5 "

Servants in public places

12

4.3 "

Apprentices

6

Musicians

4

Teachers

3

Clerks

2

Actresses

2

Hairdressers

1

18

6.2 "

289

100 per cent

 

Taking the occupations of women twenty-one years of age and over, we have:

Domestic servants

1262

37.0 per cent

Housewives and day laborers

937

27.0 "

Housewives

568

17.0 "

Day laborers, maids, etc.

297

9.0 "

In skilled trades

221

6.0 "

Conducting businesses

63

2.0 "

Clerks, etc

40

1.0 "

Learned professions

37

1.0 "

3425

100 per cent.

Total female population 2 and over . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3740. 4

 

Leaving out housewives who do no outside work and scheduling all women over twenty-one who have gainful occupations, we have:

Professions

37

Working on own account

63

In trades

221

Clerks and agents, etc.

40

Day workers, janitresses, seamstresses, cooks, etc.

1234

Servants

1262

2857

The following tables gather up all these statistics and give full returns with distinctions of age and sex:

 


 


 

OCCUPATIONS--MALES, TWENTY-ONE YEARS AND OVER

SEVENTH WARD, 1896

Occupations 21-30
Years
31-40
Years
41 and
over
Unk.
age
Total
Actors 4 2 .. .. 6
Agents (ins. societies and drummers) 6 3 6 .. 15
Apprentice to trade 1 .. .. .. 1
Barbers 28 21 15 .. 64
Bartenders 2 3 .. .. 5
Bellmen 32 10 1 .. 43
Bookbinders 1 1 .. .. 2
Bootblacks 15 6 1 .. 22
Bricklayers .. 7 4 .. 11
Brickmakers 2 .. 1 .. 3
Builder and contractor 1 .. .. .. 1
Bakers .. 1 3 .. 4
Boiler-maker .. 1 .. .. 1
Blacksmith and wheelwright .. .. 1 .. 1
Chiropodists .. 1 1 .. 2
China repairer .. .. 1 .. 1
Compounder of liquors .. 1 .. .. 1
Cooper .. 1 .. .. 1
Carpenter (ship) .. 1 .. .. 1
Carpenters 1 2 2 .. 5
Cashier .. 1 .. .. 1

 


 

OCCUPATIONS--Continued

Occupations 21-30
Years
31-40
Years
41 and
over
Unk.
age
Total
Cabinet-maker 1 .. .. .. 1
Candy-makers 1 1 .. .. 2
Caterers 11 18 36 .. 65
Chemist 1 .. .. .. 1
Cigar-makers 17 17 4 1 39
Clerks 7 4 7 .. 18
Clerks (in public service) 3 1 4 .. 8
Clerks (shipping) 1 2 .. .. 3
Conductor (railroad)* .. 1 .. .. 1
Dairymen .. 2 .. .. 2
Dancing-masters 1 2 .. .. 3
Drivers (for doctor) 10 1 1 .. 12
Dyer .. .. 1 .. 1
Errand boys 2 .. .. .. 2
Engineers (stationary) 7 4 2 .. 13
Elevator men 16 5 1 .. 22
Editor 1 .. .. .. 1
Florist .. 1 .. .. 1
Frame-makers 2 .. 1 .. 3
Furniture polisher 1 .. .. .. 1
Gold beater .. .. 1 .. 1
Gamblers 4 3 1 8 16
Hucksters 12 15 10 .. 37
Hostlers 21 12 11 .. 44
Hod carriers 27 23 29 .. 79
Inspector of furniture .. 1 .. .. 1
Ice carvers 1 1 .. .. 2
Janitors 29 20 45 .. 94
Kalsominer .. .. 1 .. 1
Lodging-house keepers .. .. 3 .. 3
Landlord .. .. 1 .. 1
Locksmith .. 1 .. .. 1
Laborers (casual) 1 4 7 .. 12

(soap factory)

2 .. .. .. 2

(furnace setters)

2 .. .. .. 2

(on buildings)

3 4 .. .. 7

(brickyards)

19 7 7 .. 32

(on streets)

33 10 4 .. 37

(general)

149 120 120 21 410

(farm)

2 1 .. .. 3

(water works and gas,etc.)

9 9 28 1 47
Laundrymen 0 1 1 .. 2
Managers and foremen 3 2 1 .. 6
Messengers 9 10 12 2 33
Musicians 10 7 3 .. 20
Manufacturers .. .. 1 .. 1
Nurses 1 1 .. .. 2
Oyster openers 2 2 .. .. 4
Packers (china) 5 4 5 .. 14
Painters 3 4 3 .. 10
Paper-hanger 3 .. .. .. 23
Porters 135 77 60 2 74

*Intermarried white man


OCCUPATIONS--Continued

Occupations 21-30
Years
31-40
Years
41 and
over
Unk.
age
Total
Politicians 1 1 .. .. 2
Photographers 1 1 .. .. 2
Plasterers .. 3 .. .. 3
Printers 6 1 2 .. 9
Proprieters--Hotels and restaurants 6 6 10 .. 22

Express business

3 4 7 .. 14

Printing office

3 1 .. .. 4

Cigar store

1 6 .. .. 7

Milk-dealing

1 .. .. .. 1

Store, notions and fuel

3 9 10 .. 22

Grocery

1 1 2 .. 4

Employment agency

1 1 1 .. 3

Barber shop

.. 5 10 .. 15

Newspaper

.. 1 .. .. 1

Pool-room

.. 2 1 .. 3
Professionals--Teachers 1 3 3 .. 7

Lawyers

2 2 1 .. 5

Clergymen

4 8 10 .. 22

Physicians

2 1 3 .. 6

Dentists

.. 1 2 .. 3
Policemen .. 5 .. .. 5
Pilot .. .. 1 .. 1
Prize fighter .. 1 .. .. 1
Rubber workers 2 .. 1 .. 3
Roofer 1 .. .. .. 1
Rag pickers 2 .. 4 .. 6
Real estate agents .. 1 2 .. 3
Root doctors 1 .. 1 .. 2
Service--Domestic 288 161 123 10 582

Hotel and restaurants, etc.

205 126 72 11 414

Public waiters (with caterers)

9 15 13 1 38

Stewards

8 14 9 .. 31
Students 13 4 .. .. 17
Sailors 14 3 3 1 21
Sextons 1 1 2 .. 4
Shoemakers 4 1 13 .. 18
Stevedores 64 60 40 .. 164
Stone-cutters 1 1 1 .. 3
Tinsmith .. 1 .. .. 1
Trainer (horses) .. 1 .. .. 1
Tailors 1 3 .. .. 4
Teamsters 63 38 32 1 134
Upholsterers 2 1 4 .. 7
Undertakers 4 1 1 .. 6
Watchmen 1 4 9 .. 14
Wicker-worker .. 1 .. .. 1

 

Let us now glance at the occupations as a whole: of the 9675 Negroes in the Seventh Ward, 1212 are children nine years of age or less. Of the remaining 8463 there are:

 

At work

6,610

In school

609

Housewives

568

Known criminals

116

Unoccupied, at home, defective, unknown, etc

560

8,463

 

The 6610 at work are distributed as follows:

Professions

101

Working on own account

268

In trades

492

Clerks, semi-professional and responsible workers

216

Laborers (select)

778

Laborers (ordinary)

2,111

Servants

2,644

6,610

 

We can grasp the true meaning of these figures only by comparing the distribution of occupations among the Negroes with that of the total population of the city; for this purpose we must redistribute tile occupations according to the simpler, but in many respects unsatisfactory, divisions of the United States census. We then have:

 

 

Whole Population
of Philadelphia,
1890.

Negroes of
Seventh Ward,
1896.

  Number Per
Cent.
Number Per
Cent.
Total population over 10

847,283

..

8,463

..

Number in gainful occupations

466,791

..

6,611

..

Per cent in gainful occupations

55.1

..

78

..

Engaged in agriculture

6497

1.5

11

.2

Engaged in professional service

19,438

4.2

130*

2.0

Engaged in domestic and personal service

106,129

22.7

4,889

74.3

Engaged in trade and transportation

115,462

24.7

1,006

15.3

Engaged in manufactunng and mechanical industries

219,265

46.9

541

8.2

* Omitting 24 students 21 years of age and over.

 

Illustrated graphically, this is:

Comparing the whole population with the Negroes of the Seventh Ward by sex, we have:

In these statistics and tables we have first to notice the large proportion of these people who work for a living; taking the population ten years of age and over, and we have 78 per cent for the Negroes of the Seventh Ward and 55.1 per cent for the whole city, white and colored. This is an indication of an absence of accumulated wealth, arising from poverty and low wages; the general causes of poverty are largely historical and well known; to appreciate the cause of low wages, we have only to see the few occupations to which the Negroes are practically limited, and imagine the competition that must ensue. This is true among the men, and especially true among the women, where the limitation is greatest. All the forces that are impelling white women to become breadwinners, are emphasized in the case of Negro women: their chances of marriage are decreased by the low wages of the men and the large excess of their own sex in the great cities; they must work, and if there are few chances open they must suffer from competition in wages. Among the men low wages means either enforced celibacy or irregular and often dissipated lives, or homes where the wife and mother must also be a bread-winner. Statistics curiously illustrate this; 16.3 per cent of the native white women

 

THE: WORKING POPULATION OR PHILADELPHIA, 1890.

Color, etc.

Number, Ten Years of Age and over, in Gainful Occupations.

Per Cent of Total Population in Gainful Occupations

 

Male.

Female.

Total

Male.

Female.

Total

Whites.
(Native, with native parents)

122,332

34,731

157,063

65

16

38

(Native, with foreign parents)

91,280

39,618

130,898

58

24

40

Colored (Negro and Chinese, etc.)

13,650

9,258

22,908

72

43

57

Total Population

344,143

122,648

466,791

..

..

..

 

of native parents and of all ages, in Philadelphia are breadwinners; 5 their occupations are restricted, and there is great competition; yet among Negro women, where the restriction in occupation reaches its greatest limit, nevertheless 43 per cent are bread-winners, and their wages are at the lowest point in all cases save in some lines of domestic service where custom holds them at certain figures; even here, however, the tendency is downward.

The causes of this peculiar restriction in employment of Negroes are twofold: first, the lack of training and experience among Negroes; second, the prejudice of the whites. The first is to be expected in some degree, although undoubtedly carelessness and culpable inefficiency have played their part. The second cause will be discussed at length, later. One point, however, needs mention: the peculiar distribution of employments among whites and Negroes makes the great middle class of white people seldom, if ever, brought into contact with Negroes--may not this be a cause as well as an effect of prejudice ?

Another noticeable fact is the absence of child-labor; this is not voluntary on the part of the Negroes, but due to restricted opportunity; there is really very little that Negro children may do. Their chief employment, therefore, is found in helping about the house while the mother is at work. Thus those children scheduled as at home represent child-labor in many cases.

ENDNOTES:

1 The returns as to occupations are on the whole reliable. There was in the first place little room for deception, since the occupations of Negroes are so limited that a false or indefinite answer was easily revealed by a little judicious probing; moreover there was little disposition to deceive, for the Negroes are very anxious to have their limited opportunities for employment known; thus the motives of pride and complaint balanced each other fairly well. Some error of course remains: the number of servants and day workers is slightly understated; the number of caterers and men with trades is somewhat exaggerated by the answers of men with two occupations: e.g., a waiter with a small side business of catering returns himself as caterer; a carpenter who gets little work and makes his living largely as a laborer is sometimes returned as a carpenter, etc. In the main the errors are small and of little consequence.

2 A more detailed list of the occupations of male Negroes, twenty-one years of age and over, living in the Seventh Ward in 1896, is as follows:

Entrepreneurs.

Caterers

65

Employment Agents

3

Hucksters

37

Lodging House Keepers

3

Proprietors Hotels and
Restaurants

22

Proprietors of Pool Rooms

3

Real Estate Agencies

3

Merchants: Fuel and Notions

22

Job Printers

3

Proprietors of Barber Shops

15

Builder and Contractor

1

Expressmen owning outfit

14

Sub-landlord

1

Merchauts, Cigar Stores

7

Milk Dealer

1

Merchants, Grocery Stores

4

Publisher

1

Proprietors of Undertaking Establishments

2

-----

207

In Learned Professions.

Clergymen

22

Dentists

3

Students

17

Editors

1

Teachers

7

------

Physicians

6

61

Lawyers

5

 

In the Skilled Trades.

Barbers

64

Apprentice

1

Cigar Makers

39

Boilermaker

1

Shoemakers

18

Blacksmith

1

Stationary Engineers

13

China Repairer

1

Bricklayers

11

Cooper

1

Printers

10

Cabinetmaker

1

Painters

10

Dyer

11

Upholsterers

7

Furniture Polisher

1

Carpenters

6

Gold Beater

1

Bakers

4

Kalsominer

1

Tailors

4

Locksmith

1

Undertakers

4

Laundryman (steam)

1

Brickmakers

3

Paper Hanger

1

Framemakers

3

Roofer

1

Plasterers

3

Tinsmith

1

Rubber Workers

3

Wicker Worker

1

Stone Cutters

3

Horse Trainer

1

Bookbinders

2

Chemist

1

Candy Makers

2

Florist

1

Chiropodists

2

Pilot

1

Ice Carvers

2

-----

Photographers

2

236

 

Clerks, Semi-Professional and Responsible Workers.

Messengers

33

Policemen

5

Stewards

31

Sextons

4

Musicians

20

Shipping Clerks

3

Clerks

18

Dancing Masters

3

Agents

15

Inspector in Factory

1

Clerks in Public Service

8

Cashier

1

Managers and Foremen

6

------

Actors

6

159

Bartenders

5

 

Servants.

Domestics

582

Nurses

2

Hotel Help

457

------

Public Waiters

38

1079

 

Laborers (Select Class).

Stevedores

164

China Packers

14

Teamsters

134

Watchmen

14

Janitors

94

Drivers

12

Hod Carriers

79

Oyster Openers

4

Hostlers

44

------

Elevator Men

22

602

Sailors

21

Laborers (Ordinary).

Common Laborers

493

Casual Laborers

12

Porters

274

Miscellaneous Laborers

4

Laborers for City

47

------

Bootblacks

22

852

 

Miscellaneous.

Rag Pickers

6

Prize Fighter

1

"Politicians"

2

------

Root Doctors

2

11

 

3 This includes 12 housewives who also work.

4 A more detailed list of the occupations of female Negroes, twenty-one years of age and over, living in the Seventh Ward in 1896, is as follows:

 

Entrepreneurs.

Caterers

18

Undertakers

3

Restaurant Keepers

17

Child-Nursery Keepers

3

Merchants

17

------

Employment Agents

5

63

 

Learned Professions.

Teachers

22

Students

7

Trained Nurses

8

------

37

 

Skilled Trades.

Dressmakers

204

Manicure

1

Hairdressers

6

Barber

1

Milliners

3

Typesetter

1

Shrouders of Dead

4

------

Apprentice

1

221

 

Clerks, Semi-Professional and Responsible Workers.

Musicians

12

Matrons

2

Clerks

10

Actress

1

Stewardesses

4

Missionary

1

Housekeepers

4

------

Agents

3

40

Stenographers

3

 

Laborers, etc.

Housewives and Day Workers

937

Janitresses

22

Day Workers

128

Factory Employe

1

Public Cooks

72

Office Maids

12

Seamstresses

48

------

Waitresses in Restaurants, etc.

14

1234

Servants

Domestic Servants . . . . . . . . . . . . 1262

 

5 A better comparison here would be made by finding the percentages of the population above 10 years of age; statistics unfortunately are not available for this.

 

From W.E.B. DuBois, The Philadelphia Negro. New York: Lippincott, 1899, Chapter VIII, pp. 99-111.


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