Can you recognize these odd extinct jobs?

by Maddy Stutz

What did you want to be when you grew up? An astronaut? A princess? What about a wharfinger or a ragpicker? There are dozens of wacky jobs that don’t exist anymore. Many of them are jobs that your own ancestors may have performed, hundreds of years ago! Test your knowledge of these extinct occupations and see how many you can get right. Who knows, you might just find your long-lost calling! 

To take the quiz, first read the question and the possible answers. Then hover your cursor over the option you believe is the correct answer. The text will appear green if the answer you chose is correct, but if you guessed wrong, the text will appear red.

Don’t forget to keep track of how many of your answers are correct! We’ll give you a score at the end.

  1. Paperhanger
    1. Someone who installs wallpaper
    2. Someone who sells papers from a news stand
    3. Someone who assists in the papermaking process by hanging wet paper to dry


  2. Tanner
    1. Someone who professionally tans 
    2. Someone who makes leather
    3. Someone who creates tanning dyes


  3. Wharfinger
    1. Someone who owns and operates a dock
    2. Someone who creates casts for fingers 
    3. Someone who operates a nail polish factory


  4. Electrotyper
    1. Someone who is in charge of recording telegrams 
    2. Someone who sends messages electronically 
    3. A person who creates letter printing molds


  5. Stevedore
    1. Someone who cooks hors d’oeuvres 
    2. Someone who loads and unloads ships when they come to port
    3. Someone who tailors suits


  6. Ragpicker
    1. Someone who collects and sells rags
    2. Someone who works in a rag factory 
    3. Someone who specializes in picking fine dining equipment


  7. Drayman
    1. Someone who operates an elevator at a hotel 
    2. Someone who manages a group of maids 
    3. Someone who drives a wooden wagon


  8. Bootblack
    1. Someone who polishes shoes
    2. Someone who carries out punishments at local jails 
    3. Someone who sells black leather boots


  9. Drover
    1. Someone who drives buggies 
    2. Someone who herds livestock long distances
    3. Someone who oversees store’s inventory


  10. Furrier
    1. Someone who resells fur in bulk 
    2. Someone who works with fur clothing
    3. Someone who professionally grooms animals


  11. Refectory Keeper
    1. Someone who oversees a dining hall
    2. Someone who oversees a refinery 
    3. Someone who repairs mirrors


  12. Diesinker
    1. Someone who crafts German chocolate 
    2. Someone who manufactures a type of lead 
    3. Someone who engraves dies for stamping


  13. Smelter
    1. Someone who creates smelt for buggies 
    2. Someone who melts metal from ore
    3. Someone who crafts automobile equipment


Great job! Now let’s find your score: 

1–3 Correct Answers: Keep your day job . . .

4–7 Correct Answers: Not bad! You’re an amateur historian! 

8–10 Correct Answers: Impressive—you really know your stuff! 

11–13 Correct Answers: Did you time travel from the 1800s? You’re a pro! 

Now that you know a bit more about some of the more obscure professions from your ancestors’ time period, you’re ready to dive into occupation research and see which of the odd jobs from this list you can find in your family tree! Check out these tips for researching your ancestors’ occupations.



How to research your ancestor's occupation through familysearch.

How to Discover Your Ancestor’s Occupation

Discover the benefits of carrying on the family business.

The Benefits of Carrying on the Family Business

How to find what your ancestors did for a living.

Discover What Your Ancestors Did for a Living



Source: New on FamilySearch