Wisconsin Scrubwomen, 1933

Meet the women who kept the Wisconsin Capitol Building clean in 1933.  All were white and older. Most wore glasses.  The sensible lace up Oxford was the most popular footwear, but two wore shoes that hearkened back to the strappy versions of the 1920s.  Three chose to dress up their outfits with bits of jewelry. Did they know their pictures were going to be taken that day?  And did that also explain the dressy white aprons a few wore?  I would think that the patterned versions would have been easier to keep clean.

The photo credits give us a little more information about who these women were.  The woman on the left, Mrs. Mary DeRenzo, was listed as the oldest scrubwoman.  Since she doesn’t look that old, I’m guessing that she had worked there the longest.  Perhaps she was the boss, which might explain why she didn’t wear an apron like all the others. Only Miss Mary McCloskey, third from the left, was unmarried.  

The Wisconsin Historical Society followed up on the story of Ingebord Sidwell.  Fourth from the left in the photo above, she was in her early seventies when the photo was taken, an old age to be doing hard physical labor. Ten years later, she lobbied the state governor to make sure that the state passed a pension system for government workers.  Her share was a princely $14.70–that’s about $217.00 today.

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2 Responses to Wisconsin Scrubwomen, 1933

  1. Susan says:

    I love the dignity of these hard-working women.

  2. Nann says:

    They are a tableau of the many ethnic groups that settled Wisconsin.

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