Think your office work is hard? These 20 vintage photos show some of the hardest jobs of the past

Even if today the situation with job is not the best all over the world, it is really impressive to be in front of photographs that portray work scenes from the past. We can only reflect on this by looking at the historical images we have collected below, dated between the late 1800s and mid-1900s.

Strenuous jobs, inhumane shifts, starvation wages, fewer employees in the toughest tasks: going to work, for many humble people, was anything but a walk. On the contrary, after days of fatigue like those, many of them often had to be happy to return home safe and sound … The well-being and safety of those who worked were practically unknown: discover how different the standards of the past were , and how much we can learn from our past to improve the present.

When the fans were not powered by electricity …
We are in India, in the early twentieth century. These men are actually operating ceiling fans with their bodies.

Life in a mine, Belgium, 1920s
These coal miners, crammed like sardines into an elevator that carried them to the surface, were returning from a grueling shift.

It was never too early to start working
This little boy used to collect shrimp when he was just 5 years old. We are in Mississippi, in 1911

The Shoe Shiner. London, 1877
A humble and humiliating job, often done by children.

Ammunition manufacturers
It was by no means a rare profession. Here we are in England during the First World War.

A teenage girl working in a Texas cotton mill, 1913

Workers on the Eiffel Tower
There is probably no adequate pay for this type of work. Pay attention to the complete absence of helmets and other protective equipment!

In the mine again: a working moment between two colleagues

This woman was doing her husband’s job while he was at war
We are in the US, during the Second World War, and this lady had taken her husband’s place in a fire watchtower, spending a lot of time there alone.

Do you recognize it? It is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco’s, and this worker is painting it with typical orange color

A chimney sweep and his little assistant, London 1877
Another hard and almost forgotten job …

Life wasn’t easy for those who worked in ports either. Hong Kong, 1890

Other workers intent on making ammunition during the war.

These men are public disinfectors. London, end of 1800s.

Another impressive insight into daily life in the mine
It’s even hard to imagine a job harder than this …

Another very dangerous job
This worker of a nuclear power plant wears a plastic “suit”. Britain, 1954

A worker suspended on the Empire State Building
The photos of US workers literally suspended in the sky while building the skyscrapers of the metropolises are well known. But we must admit that they always make an impression!

Big and small workers of a cotton factory. Georgia, 1909

Another impressive insight into child labor
These kids had just finished the night shift at a glass factory. Virginia, 1911

Working in the factory was allowed for all ages: here we are in 1908

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