Occupations, 1870.

In 1870, the year of the first post-Emancipation census, African-Americans overwhelmingly lived in rural communities and engaged in agricultural labor. However, even small towns like Wilson offered greater opportunities to pursue different and often more skilled occupations. Though livelihoods open to them remained few, black women dominated household service positions and thus were able to bring wages into their own homes.

Here are the occupations carried out by African-Americans enumerated in the 1870 census of the town of Wilson, and the number of people working these jobs. The youngest person listed with a job were a 10 year-old domestic servant and a 12 year-old who “works about the house.” Seven of the farm laborers were inmates at the county prison.

  • Baker/bakery worker — 2.
  • Barber — 2.
  • Blacksmith/blacksmith apprentice — 4.
  • Brickyard worker — 1.
  • Carpenter — 4.
  • Chambermaid — 2.
  • Hotel cook — 1.
  • Domestic servant/servant — 88.
  • Farm laborer/farm worker — 40.
  • Furniture shop worker — 1.
  • Gardener — 2.
  • General laborer — 1.
  • Hotel servant — 7.
  • Housekeeper — 1.
  • Iron foundry worker — 1.
  • Porter, general, hotel and store — 4.
  • Railroad station worker/railroad worker — 4.
  • Schoolteacher — 1.
  • Shoemaker — 2.
  • Teamster — 2.
  • Washerwoman/washer — 11.

 

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