People at Work


Today, people earn their livings by doing jobs that no one ever heard of one hundred years ago.  On the other hand, many of the jobs that people did in the past are no longer necessary.  For example, a carriage maker would need to find a new way to earn a living today.  But there would have been no jobs for computer operators fifty years ago.


Below are lists of jobs and job descriptions that may be unfamiliar to you.  Read the job descriptions carefully and match each job with its description.  Write the correct numbers in the spaces.  You may find that a dictionary will be helpful for this activity.


  1. Tanner                                                ______ A barrel maker

  2. Cobbler                                              ______ Someone who operates a mill, especially one that grinds grain into flour

  3. Miller                                                 ______ Someone who saws wood, especially at a lumber mill

  4. Smith                                                  _____ A mender or maker of shoes

  5. Sawyer                                               ______ A worker in metals (silver, iron, tin, etc.)

  6. Cooper                                               ______ Someone who makes leather


Perhaps you have noticed that many of these words are the names of people.  Hundreds of years ago, when people first began to use last names, they often became known by their occupations.  John the farmer became known as John Farmer, and Mary the weaver became known as Mary Weaver.


Make a list of the last names of people you know that are the same as occupations. (Turn your paper over to make your list.)  Tell what these names mean.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society