How Ladies Make Money: Advice From 1890

We were reading JaneHasaJob when we stumbled across this gem from the turn of the century magazine The Homemaker. It taught us that, when it comes to making money, even “if women do not reason as well as men they seem to have intuition, or some other faculty, which serves them instead.” Like cooking skills! Mary J. Ashton’s advice is actually still applicable to anyone looking to start up a business run out of their home, and we can only imagine how cutting-edge it would have been at the time. If you were a lady in 1890, Ashton recommends baking, mending things or – my favorite – investing in real estate. She writes:

Women are beginning to depend on themselves, and many are doing business, as a means of self-support. The women all over the country are asking and answering the question, What can we do best to earn money?

One woman in a large city, who had a sick husband, resolved to do something to support her family. She leased a large block and rented out unfurnished rooms for more than the rent she paid for the whole block, collecting the dues herself, and had quite an income left. An old lady calling herself Grandma Patch, who lived near a young ladies’ school, did the darning, mending and repairing for the girls, and received a good compensation and was indispensable to them. A Mrs. W—, who had the gift of being a good cook, supplied a dozen families with warm rolls, in a village where there was no bakery, and others can do the same, even where there are bakeries, as most people prefer home-made cooking. Another woman makes a specialty of doughnuts and supplies a Woman’s Exchange.

Another runs:

About two years ago a Miss Cassey of Oberlin, Ohio, got her uncle to make a plating machine to plate silver ware with. She says it cost nine dollars, and did the work well. At the time she wrote the letter she had worked twenty-two days and cleared $94.00. Her address at that time was Miss M. F. Cassey, Oberlin, Ohio. She offered to give full directions to any one for making and using the machine to plate gold or silver, that would send her specimens of stone, shells, old coins etc. for her collection.

It is a little known fact that Coco Chanel’s original name was Miss M.F. Cassey of Oberlin, Ohio. No, not really. But I love Miss Cassey, just the same.

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