1. Bowling alley pinsetter
These were young boys employed at bowling alleys to set up the pins for clients.
2. Human alarm clock
Also called “knocker-uppers”. They were essentially alarm clocks, hired to ensure that people would wake up on time to get to their jobs. They would use sticks, clubs or pebbles to knock on clients’ windows and doors.
3. Ice cutter
Before modern refrigeration and preservation techniques were invented, ice cutters would saw up big blocks of ice from frozen lakes. People used these blocks of ice in their cellars and refrigerators. It was a very dangerous job often done in extreme conditions.
4. Listener for enemy aircraft
Before the invention of radar, the military used acoustic mirrors and listening devices like the one pictured above to focus and detect the sound of engines from approaching aircraft.
5. Rat catcher
These people were hired to control rat populations in big cities. They had high risks of suffering bites and infections, but also helped prevent rat-born diseases from spreading to the public.
Lamplighters used long poles to light, extinguish and refuel street lamps. This was obviously before electric street lights were introduced.
These were also common in the time before modern preservation techniques became widespread. Fresh, non-treated milk spoils very quickly, and had to be delivered almost daily.
8. Log driver
Before modern tools, technology and infrastructure became available, log drivers would float and guide cut logs down rivers from a logging site to processing areas.
9. Switchboard operator
These were integral parts of a telephone network’s operation before modern technology rendered them obsolete. They would, among other things, connect long-distance calls. All of these tasks are now performed digitally.
Also called “body snatchers”. They were hired to remove corpses from graves for universities to use as cadavers. Cadavers from legal means were rare and difficult to obtain, so universities had to resort to other means of obtaining them.
Basically a human radio, a lector was often hired from money pooled from factory workers. The lector would read to large rooms full of manual laborers to keep them entertained.