Leon J. Pollom

Want a Job in 1816 Pittsburgh?

Many common occupations have gone to pasture

We’ve been looking at surprising things you don’t know about 1816. That was the year Pittsburgh got big enough to become a city. So far, we’ve learned:


  • There was no summer that year.
  • The City of Bridges had no bridges yet.
  • Public love-making was quite popular (waltzing).
  • You paid nothing to mail a letter. You paid a lot to get one.

Now, we’ll send you back to 1816 to look for a job. Someone’s written a resume for you. Problem is you probably don’t know half the occupations listed on it. The following test may help.

The  occupations on this test came from a Pittsburgh directory compiled in 1815.

1. You are an experienced skin dresser. That means
2. You say you are a drayman. That means
3. As a milliner, you
4. You say you are a chandler. It’s not your name. It means
5. As a longtime glover, you
6. You want to be a white-smith rather than a black-smith because
7. As a nail cutter you have seen a lot of
8. You can’t be a carter without
9. You say you are a gentleman. That means
10. As a mantua-maker, you enhance the appearance of
11. Being a morocco dresser, you must know
If you got more than half correct, chances are good you will get hired in 1816. After all, Pittsburgh was booming. The War of 1812 (it lasted into 1815) made it a center of military supplies and reinforced it as the gateway to go after Indian land in the Midwest.