“Male-Help-Only”: Breaking the Glass Ceiling in 1929

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are sharing the stories of women who are examples of strength and courage. 

It was December 1929, just a few weeks after the stock market crash, and many families were feeling the pinch. As a teenager growing up in the 1920’s Dorothy Smith developed an interest in art, and enjoyed sketching the faces of her friends and family. Her parents invested in a few art lessons, and the hobby blossomed into an opportunity for Dorothy to answer an ad in the local paper. The problem was, the ad was for “male-help-only”. Dorothy was not deterred, at at the encouragement of her mother, put some trousers on and answered the ad.

From Dorothy Smith’s own life sketch:

“In December of my 18th year came an answer to a prayer for financial help as well as an unexpected opportunity to “cash-in” on my parent’s monetary investments in my future. At Mother’s suggestion, I bravely answered a “male-help-only” ad that had appeared for a week in the local newspaper. I got the job and was promptly put to work. I learned a lesson in preparedness when I was retained to work the rest of the day and was afraid to remove my coat because I hadn’t bothered to wear my belt. I thoroughly enjoyed my (one-man?) job as a sign-writer and copy-checker in the advertising department of the city’s largest store, T. Eaton, Co., and was glad to be able to help in the support of my elder brother Marv.”

-From the Dorothy Smith Archive, A Brief Life Sketch, written 31 January 1975.

2016_01_14_10_16_330002

Dorothy Smith with her parents Hyrum and June, in the late 1920’s, in front of their home in Lethbridge, Alberta.

DSC-004

Dorothy Smith sketching a face.

DSC-100

A window Dorothy Smith decorated at T. Eaton Co. in Lethbridge, Alberta.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s