10 Professions That Vanished From The Pages of History

Published on May 25, 2024

Credit: Museums Victoria

Throughout history, the problems and necessities of society have changed again and again. And with these, the realm of work has also transformed, adapting to meet evolving demands. Some jobs simply faded away, becoming strange - or even amusing - relics of bygone eras.

Let's take a nostalgic journey through time and explore 10 jobs that no longer exist.



Credit: Matt Antonioli

Once essential for lighting up the streets before electricity became widespread, lamplighters would manually ignite and extinguish gas lamps each evening and morning. With the advent of electric street lighting, the need for these nocturnal workers dwindled into darkness. However, not everything is lost! A small team of professional lamplighters are employed in London, England to turn on the gas lights that have been preserved as part of the historical heritage of the city.


Switchboard Operator

Credit: Museums Victoria

In the age before automated telephone systems, switchboard operators served as a vital link between callers. They manually routed calls by plugging cables into switchboards, a complex task requiring quick decision-making, good memory for names, and multitasking skills. With the rise of digital telecommunications, these operators became obsolete, but they still play a role in specific fields, such as emergency services or customer support centers.


Ice Cutter

Credit: Scott Rodgerson

Before refrigeration, ice cutters braved freezing temperatures to harvest ice from lakes and rivers during winter. Their labor provided a precious commodity for preserving food and cooling drinks in the sweltering summer months. Surprisingly, well-insulated ice reserves could last all summer long. Eventually, the widespread adoption of electrical refrigeration systems rendered the services of ice cutters unnecessary.



Credit: bruce mars

Before the era of alarm clocks, knocker-uppers provided a crucial service for workers and city residents. Armed with long poles or even pebbles, these early risers would tap on windows or doors at designated times to wake up their slumbering clients. This personalized wake-up service ensured punctuality for those with early morning obligations, such as factory workers or store owners. However, with the invention of affordable alarm clocks and the widespread availability of electricity, the need for knocker-uppers faded into oblivion.


Rat Catcher

Credit: Joshua J. Cotten

From medieval times through the Victorian era, rat catchers were individuals employed to control vermin populations in cities plagued by infestations. Armed with traps, ferrets, and other tools of the trade, they ventured into sewers and alleys to rid urban areas of these disease-carrying pests. However, some rat catchers were accused of secretly breeding rats and releasing them to ensure their long-term employment in a given area.


Human Computer

Credit: Jeswin Thomas

Long before electronic calculators and digital computers, human computers performed complex mathematical calculations manually. These skilled individuals, often women, were employed in various fields such as astronomy, engineering, and finance to perform computations essential for research, design, and financial analysis. In fact, the trajectory calculations for the first satellite launched by the United States - the Explorer 1- were done by hand by a group of human computers.



Credit: Valerie V

In ancient Greece, bematists were skilled land surveyors responsible for measuring distances and demarcating land boundaries using simple tools and techniques such as measuring rods, compasses, and counting their steps. These early surveyors were remarkably accurate, so much so that some modern researchers speculate that they must have used some sort of odometer.


Herb Strewer

Credit: Alexander Schimmeck

Dating back to 17th century England, herb strewers played a vital role in combating unpleasant odors in the royal apartments. These individuals scattered fragrant herbs, flowers, and other aromatic substances on rooms and hallways, in an effort to deter pests and bad smells. But this wasn’t necessarily because of unhygienic living conditions. In cities like London, before the construction of a proper network of sewers, the smell of the untreated waste that flowed into the river Thames could be overwhelming, to the point where drapes were sometimes drenched in bleach to try and stop the putrid stench.


Toad Doctor

Credit: Byron Burns

In late 19th century Europe, toad doctors were practitioners of a branch of folk medicine that claimed the ability to cure various ailments through the use of living toads and other natural substances. In particular, toad doctors specialized in the treatment of "King’s Evil," a frequent skin disease at the time, now called "scrofula." Usually, this treatment consisted of placing a live toad inside a bag and hanging it from the sick person’s neck.


Groom of the Stool

Credit: Giorgio Trovato

The Groom of the Stool served as the personal attendant to monarchs during their most private moments in the lavatory. This role involved assisting the monarch with all its toileting needs, and yes… all of them . While we can be thankful that this job has disappeared in modern times, at the time it was an extremely privileged position of intimate trust in royal courts. Whoever was Groom of the Stool was often feared and envied within the court, as these intimate helpers were often rewarded with both riches and political power.


Commanders-In-Quirk! Discover These Ten Presidential Fun Facts & Hobbies!

Published on May 25, 2024

Credit: Jéan Béller

Let’s face it: Our "Commanders in Chief" are humans, after all. However significant their leadership was for the growth of our country, we should always keep in mind that they also had likes, dislikes, hobbies, and, above all, quirks just like the rest of us.

We have decided to document ten of our favorite presidential fun facts that celebrate the human side of our heads of state. Can you guess which president absolutely adored jelly beans before reading? It might surprise you!


Four score and many hats ago…

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Even though he is pictured bareheaded in the $5 bill and his memorial, it is kind of hard to separate President Lincoln from his iconic black top hat. And as anyone who had to play Lincoln will attest (which includes both Daniel Day-Lewis and elementary school students on President’s Day), top hats are rather roomy headpieces. This height served no functional purpose unless you were a certain president who had a habit of storing notes and papers on your hat.

According to historians, President Lincoln was incredibly messy during his lawyer years in Illinois. He came up with the solution of storing important documents in his top hat as a way to separate them from the mess in his office and, by the time he became president, this habit was well-known. Some believe Lincoln kept this tradition since it conveyed a powerful message: These ideas were coming straight from the president’s head.


Keep those feet warm!

Credit: Jonathan Taylor

As far as hobbies go, collecting socks might be one of the most useful ones. After all, doesn’t a huge assortment of colorful, comfy songs to choose from at the start of each day sound like a dream? In any case, we can think of at least one person who shared our passion for socks and that is former president George H.W. Bush.

As ¨President Bush himself said in 2014, "I'm a self-proclaimed sock man. The louder, the brighter, the crazier the pattern - the better." Several pieces of his collections have been pictured over the years: these include the American flag pair he wore when he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a pair with his own face worn during a 2013 football game.


You can put it on the board!

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Most of us are aware of Ronald Reagan’s acting career before turning to politics. He was one of the most prominent actors in the 1950s, appearing in over 50 movies and acting as president of the Screen Actors Guild twice. However, you might be surprised to learn that when young Ronald first arrived in Hollywood in 1937, he had previously pursued a different career path.

President Reagan worked as a sports announcer for five years, covering major league baseball and college football for WHO in Des Moines, Iowa. During his time in the White House, he would continue to show his broadcasting skills while addressing the American public every Saturday on the radio.


Nutty for peanuts?

Credit: Afif Ramdhasuma

Jimmy Carter’s past as a peanut farmer is very well documented. He was nicknamed "The Peanut Farmer" during his time in the White House, referencing the farm in which Carter grew and sold peanuts since his teenage years. His image is so heavily associated with peanuts that, in 1976, a roadside attraction of a large peanut bearing his enormous smile was built to support his presidential candidacy.

What is less known is President Carter’s love for anything peanut, particularly peanut butter. In a recent interview for his 99th birthday, he states he still enjoys an occasional scoop of peanut butter ice cream. Moreover, a delicious cake known as the "Jimmy Carter cake" includes both peanut butter and roasted peanuts on top of a cream cheese and chocolate layer.


President Reagan’s sweet tooth

Credit: Patrick Fore

We could fill an entire article with the favorite snacks of U.S. presidents (and maybe we will in the future, who knows?). We could talk endlessly about FDR’s love for grilled cheese sandwiches or the above-mentioned Carter peanut craze. However, President Reagan’s obsession with jelly beans was simply too incredible not to include in this article.

Reagan first became infatuated with jelly beans when he was governor of California. In an effort to quit pipe smoking, he adopted eating these colorful pieces of candy as a stand-in. During his time in the White House, over 700 bags of jelly beans were ordered each month, and distributed among different government buildings. He gifted bags of Jelly Belly beans (his favorite brand) to foreign dignitaries and illustrious Americans, including the astronauts aboard the Challenger Space Shuttle. To commemorate their most famous fan, the Jelly Belly factory has a portrait of President Reagan made entirely of jelly beans.


We hold these fries to be self-evident

Credit: Nurul Roy Saleh

From authoring the Declaration of Independence to conducting the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson’s contributions to this great nation of ours can’t be denied. However, there’s an outstanding accomplishment made by our Third President that sometimes goes unacknowledged by history books: he is credited with bringing the very first recipe of French fries to America.

While serving as American Minister to France, Jefferson collected over 150 of his favorite French recipes to bring back home. Jefferson’s recipe for pommes de terre frites, which were round-shaped instead of sticks, didn’t really catch on until the 1900s but set the base of what would eventually become one of America’s favorite foods.


A night to remember

Credit: Long Truong

While it is an evening we will probably remember for the rest of our lives, prom nights are not particularly luxurious events. Don’t get us wrong: we have nothing but admiration for the enormous work that goes into turning a high-school gym into the setting of a magical event, but tight budgets sometimes have to cut a few corners. However, if you happened to be in the 1975 class of Holton-Arms School, you might have enjoyed a prom night in a rather unusual place: the White House.

Susan Ford, daughter of President Gerald Ford, petitioned at the behest of her classmates to hold her prom night in the White House. While some conditions had to be arranged (for instance, an assurance that no expense would be covered by the government), the White House administration agreed and Susan’s class was able to enjoy a night to remember at the Executive Mansion.


A groovy president!

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Many presidents have been rather musical. Harry S. Truman played the violin, Richard Nixon was a talented pianist, and Warren G. Harding even celebrated his nomination in the 1920 Democratic Convention by showing off his tuba-playing skills. However, President Clinton’s prowess with the saxophone is perhaps the most well-known.

Before turning to politics, Clinton did briefly consider a music career: he avidly practiced the saxophone as a kid and even became the first chair of Arkansas’ All-State Band. Most famously, Clinton appeared in the Arsenio Hall show during the 1992 election and played a cover of "Heartbreak Hotel" on his trusted saxophone. This performance also proved to be a smart political move , since it helped him gain traction with young voters.


Boom, Boom, Dynamite!

Credit: University of Texas at Arlington Photograph Collection

While not the only cheerleader president (both Reagan and FDR were cheerleaders in their college years), George W. Bush’s cheering days are perhaps the most well-known. He became head cheerleader in his senior year of high school at Philips Academy: some photographs remain from those days on which we can see the future 43rd president electrifying the crowd through a megaphone. From 1964 to 1968, President Bush attended Yale University , where he also became part of the cheerleading squad.


Tee up!

Credit: Robert Ruggiero

We end this article with one of America’s favorite pastimes. Millions of Americans relax after a long week by hitting the greens. In case you happen to live far away from a golf course, you might seek to escape your worries by practicing on a putting green. That is exactly what President Eisenhower, an avid golfer, sought to recreate when he installed a putting green in the White House: a place on which to momentarily unwind and enjoy himself, before going back to his presidential duties.

The putting green, installed in 1954, was later on dismantled by President Nixon. George H.W. Bush reinstalled it in 1991, and President Clinton moved it back into its original location in 1995. It sits there to this day, a small oasis on which commanders-in-chief can momentarily loosen up.

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