A shocking time travel into the 1920s
We all know that things were pretty tough for women back in the day, thanks to a wealth of vintage advertisements and newspaper clippings from various historical periods. But the 1923 teacher’s contract below really takes the biscuit when it comes to exemplifying how limited a woman’s life once was if she chose to join the workforce.
The contract, which was posted by the Ohio Education Association, stipulates some truly jaw-dropping rules. It’s like being in prison except maybe worse because at least in prison you can have a cigarette out in the yard.
The most baffling rule is probably the one forbidding women from “loitering in downtown ice-cream parlours.” Why on earth were ice-cream stores, specifically ones that are downtown, forbidden places in the early 20th century?
This contract is truly a testament of how far we’ve come. Read it then go and get yourself an ice cream to celebrate your freedom.
This is an agreement between Miss Lottie Jones, teacher, and the Board of Education of the Middletown School, thereby Miss Lottie Jones agrees to teach in the Middletown School for a period of eight months beginning September 1, 1923. The Board of Education agrees to pay Miss Lottie Jones the sum of seventy-five dollars per month. Miss Jones agrees:
1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
2. Not to keep company with men.
3. To be home between the hours of 3pm and 6am unless she is in attendance at a school function.
4. Not toloiter downtown in ice cream parlours.
5. Not to leave town at anytime without the permission of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
6. Not to smoke cigarettes. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found smoking.
7. Not to drink beer, wine or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found drinking beer, wine or whiskey.
8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brothers or father.
9. Not dress in bright colours.
10. Not to dye her hair.
11. To wear at least two petticoats.
12. Not to wear dresses more than two inches above the ankle.
13. To keep the schoolroom clean: to sweep the classroom floor at least once daily; to scrub the classroom floor at least once a week with hot water and soap; to start a fire at 7am so that the room will be warm at 8am when the children arrive; to carry out the ashes at least once daily.
14. Not to use face powder, mascara or paint the lips.
Fill in the gaps with words from the text.
1. I would not wear …….. to work if I were you. Bank clerks must wear black and white only.
2. It is ……… to go out after 10 pm. Unfortunately, it is a very dangerous neighbourhood.
3. ……….. clothes are very fashionable nowadays though they are so expensive that I can’t afford to buy them.
4. The ………. on the corner is very popular. They sell many flavours.
5. …………… when I was a child we had to keep a lot of rules.
6. If you think that now we live in …….. times just think of all the wars in history. You will change your opinion, I bet.
7. I found some old …………. of the back issues of The Times in my grandparents’ garage.
8. Cinderella had a very difficult life. She had to ……. the hard stone floor every single day.
9. There are so many ……….. in my school nowadays that it is difficult to attend all of them.
10. The contract has become ……. because the employee did not keep the required rules.
1. bright colours
4. ice-cream parlour
5. back in the day
7. newspaper clippings
9. school functions