Monday, March 27, 2017

Your Ancestor's Employer May Give a Glimpse of Her Life

Siegel-Cooper Employees, Long Branch, NJ
Many of us crave details about our ancestors so we can visualize what their lives may have been like. We want more than a bunch of dates and locations. What life struggles did they face? Why did they decide to move to another state or country? And even more trivial questions like: What did they do on Sundays?

If you know where your ancestor worked, a search for information about that employer may give you a glimpse of your ancestor's life. For example, if one of your female relatives worked for the Siegel-Cooper department store in New York, there's a publication in both Google Books and the HathiTrust Digital Library that provides details on how she may have spent a week during the summer.

Here are a few excerpts from Souvenir Program of The Siegel-Cooper Co. Employees' Association:

"The Siegel-Cooper Company's Employes' [sic] Association (duly incorporated under the laws of New York State on November 10, 1896) was formed entirely for the benefit of the employes of The Big Store. Raising a moderate revenue by the means of a monthly assessment, graded in amount according to the amount of each employe's salary, the Association pays a sick benefit to sick or disabled members, provides the free services of an able physician, makes occasional donations to sick or destitute members, and pays a death benefit of $50 or $100."

"Convinced that rest and recreation are essential for the health and happiness of its members, the Officers and Directors of The Siegel-Cooper Company Employes' Association decided to establish a summer home at Long Branch, where every eligible female employe was to be entitled to one week's vacation, free of every expense, including transportation."

"A private beach was obtained for surf-bathing, with life guards in attendance, and boats were chartered for excursions on the beautiful Shrewsbury River. The supply of daily newspapers, magazines and light literature was ample. Accommodations were provided at neighboring cottages for relatives and friends of employes, and every detail was planned with all the care and acumen that successful business men could bring to bear when their hearts as well as their heads were in the project."

Where did your ancestors work? Learning more about their employers may give you some information about your relatives, even if it's just a short period of their lives.

Related Post:  Who Was Your Ancestor's Employer?

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