Thursday, August 8, 2013

Employment Applications can be a great resource.

Dear Grandparents,
When researching your lives, we would all like to find a complete timeline that explains where you were living and what you were doing each year of your lives. Realistically, we know that we're not going to find that timeline. However, my sister Leslie has found one of the next best things for our Grandmother Grace Colby Werst Branchflower.

On May 13, 1947, (Mrs.) Grace C. Branchflower filled out an application for Federal Employment. All of us who have filled out similar forms, understand that it involves accounting for one's complete employment history, education as well as answering a variety of questions. Scope of jobs, salary, and supervisors are identified, as well as physical characteristics. For example, on the form Grace lists her height as 5' 5" and weight as 113 pounds. This fact was interesting to me as I always thought of her as being taller than my mother who was also 5'5".

1st of 7 pages of Grace's Federal Employment Application

The form answers several questions for the family. How long did she attend Oregon Agricultural College? During the time she was filling out the application, OAC had become Oregon State College. On the form,  she states she attended Oregon State College, Corvallis, Ore. There she majored in HE, presumably Home Economics. There is a mistake in the dates listed. She states she began in 9, 1922 thru 6, 1922. The best guess is that this should read through 6, 1923.

She also writes that she attended Northwestern Business College for 3 months taking a course in something called then Stenotypy. The location and dates of this course are not included. Following that she lists Dickinson's Shorthand School, Seattle, Washington where she took a 3 month class in Shorthand and Business training. There are no dates for that course either. We know that she was employed in Seattle from February 1929 to October 1930.

The years between her leaving Oregon State until she returned, with daughters in tow, to her father's home in Newberg have held the most questions for us. She told us that rather than returning to her home in Newberg, where her new step-mother was ruling the roost, she had gone to her sister's Madge's home in Pendleton. I was under the impression that few unmarried young women of good families worked outside the home in the 1920s so I had not looked for a work record for her before marriage. Page 7 of the application lists her previous employment and there she states that from
"February 1923 to May 1925" she worked for the "Real Silk Hosiery Mills" in "Pendleton, Oregon, Walla Walla, and Spokane, Washington." Her job responsibilities included, "Complete office management, instructing of sales force, general office, account, records and reports." She earned a salary of $175 per month. Someone named "L. A. Baker" was her supervisor and she left to be 'Married."

My impression, from the stories told by my mother and aunt, is that Grace helped Cecil obtain his first job with her company. His brother Clem and wife lived across the street from Grace's sister Madge and dentist husband Hal Massey. Cecil was working as a carpenter for his brother's construction company. I think they both had their sights set on bigger things.

That she left in May of 1925 when she married is interesting because she and Cecil Oscar Werst were married 8 Aug 1924 in Spokane. (As I am typing this, I just realized that today is the 89th anniversary of their marriage. Happy Anniversary Hoo Hoo and Cecil. We hope you are celebrating together today.)

Perhaps, Royal Silk had a policy preventing married couples from working for the company. Maybe, she offered to stay on after their marriage until she could train a replacement.

There is more to be discovered on this page later.

Once again, Happy Anniversary!

1 comment:

  1. Cecily,

    What a great genealogical resource!

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!