top of page
  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Should wives visit their husband's workplace???

In October of 1937 the Pantagraph posed a question to several people engaged in business in Piper City. They asked: "Should a wife be barred from her husband's place of business?" Most men answered that a wife should be welcome in her husband's business, depending on what sort of business it was. These photos all come from the Pantagraph Negative Collection and are used with the gracious permission of the McLean County Museum of History.

E. A. Quick was a variety store operator and he felt that a woman is vitally interested in her husband's business and that if she is not, she should be! I wonder if Mrs. Quick would have arranged the merchandise in her husband's store to better advantage?

Dentist R.E. Squires said that his wife was very helpful in his business and was never an annoyance. I wonder if he would have been wiser to stop at merely saying his wife was very helpful and not mentioned annoyances??

Hugh Rice, a grocery store manager, adamantly stated that a woman should be barred from her husband's place of business. As an example, he stated that if a wife came in and saw her husband talking to another woman, she might become jealous. Perhaps Mr. Rice had observed this problem in someone else's life and learned from a distance?? But was the line for public relations between men and women so sharply drawn? Were those relations like those of ultra religious practitioners who insist on sitting in seats next to those of the same sex or meeting only in groups of those of the opposite sex? Were people really so distrustful of each other?

Miss Gladys Penwitt, a grocery store clerk, whose photo has not survived, seemed to have the same situation in mind when she said that a wife should be free to visit her husband's place of business to "check up" on him -- "You have to check up on these men." Such suspicion must have been learned close at hand.

Mrs. Neil Perry, newspaper editor, felt that a woman should know something of her husband's business affairs, but should know her position in relation to them and not interfere. "I know that the wife does so interfere -- but that holds true for the husband too -- he often interferes in the management of the home." The lines aren't so sharp drawn in the home nowadays, most women insist that husbands have just as much duty to contribute to work around the home as the women do.

Miss Margaret DRILLING (!), a dental assistant, felt that most women cannot have sufficient understanding of their husband's business to be helpful, but that they should be welcome at his place of business. (She worked with Dr. Squires.)

Most respondents qualified their answers by stating it depended on the type of woman and the type of business, but as Mr. Houk, the furniture dealer, stated he only had the experience of one wife.

While the photos are delightful as sometimes give us an idea of what the interior of the stores and businesses look like, the interviews give us the candid answers of ordinary citizens on subjects that the Pantagraph thought would interest the reading public. It is certainly interesting to the later reading public!

As you may have noticed, many of these photos appear to have cracks and lines in them. This is the effect of age and inclement storage conditions on negatives. It is vital that the negatives be preserved through digitization, as MCMH was able to do through a grant from the Illinois State Library and the generosity of Museum supporters. The negatives must be kept in a dry, cold place, and the basement of the Museum is the best available place with current financial restrictions. As announced earlier this month, the museum applied for and was given a large grant from the IMLS to create a freezer storage system and to digitize additional images! There are thousands more negatives waiting to be digitized, and all donations will be gratefully accepted by MCMH so that this community can preserve this part of our heritage.

55 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page