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Working Women

At the turn-of-the-century, very few women work outside the home. The traditional jobs for professional women are teaching, nursing, and secretarial work. The majority of working class women in Charlotte work in a laundry or in textile mills. Click to see the different kinds of occupations women had according to the 1908 Charlotte City Directory followed by the number of Charlotte women in that profession and a brief definition.

Labor Unions

In the early 1900s, there were twenty labor unions in Charlotte. One hundred years later there are only twelve unions.  

American Federation of Labor Central Labor Union

Bartender’s League No. 211

Bricklayers & Masons Lodge, No. 3

Brotherhood of Painters, Paperhangers and Decorators Union, No. 329

Carpenters and Joiners Union, No. 558

Charlotte Printing Pressmen & Assistants Union, No. 41

Charlotte Typographical, Union No. 338

Corner Grocers

There are over 150 grocers, bakers, and butchers listed in The Charlotte City Directory in the early 1900s. Every neighborhood in the city has its own corner grocer.

The Berryhill Grocery Store in Fourth Ward (Today, the building is the Alexander Michael's Restaurant at 401 W 9th St.)


Banking has always been very important to Charlotteans. A good financial center enables small businesses to grow and attracts other businesses to the area. 

American Trust Company, 222 South Tryon Street - Chartered 1901. Capital: $300,000.

Charlotte National Bank,  109 E. Trade Street - Chartered January 1897. Capital: $125,000, Surplus and Undivided Profits: $60,000.

How Many Did What

Based on the 1903 Charlotte City Directory, below is a compilation of the number of people who worked in occupations you may recognize.

30 Lawyers

6 Photographers

10 Music Teachers

11 Tailors

1 Veterinarian

27 Shoemakers

19 Real Estate Agents

27 Butchers

149 Grocers

10 Dentists

36 Dressmakers

20 Blacksmiths

23 Policeman

29 Firemen

54 Insurance Agents

1 Secret Service Agent

29 Barbers    

Occupations in the 1903 Charlotte City Directory

This is a list of jobs or occupations that men and some women had. All of these jobs are listed in the local city directory by occupation. Many  disappeared after the invention of the automobile and the manufacturing of other appliances such as gas/electrical stoves, air conditioning, refrigerators, washing machines, vacumn cleaners as well as computers.


There are all kinds of different jobs at the turn of the century, many of which no longer exist. Learn about the different kinds of work that men and women did then and compare that to the job market today. One thing you will learn is many jobs require hard, physical labor. Some people work for ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week just to provide the very basics for themselves and their families.