Toilet servant, cigarette girls and resurrectionists: top 10 strange professions of the past

Maria ShevchukLife
In the past, there were many professions that now seem strange to say the least

While humanity is preparing for the fact that artificial intelligence, including ChatGPT, will leave many people unemployed, it should be acknowledged that progress has always led to someone being unemployed, and some professions have disappeared from the horizon and never returned. As frightening as it may be, the evolution of society is a process that cannot be stopped.

OBOZREVATEL recalls 10 professions of the past that few people even remember existed.

The alarm clock man

In the 1800s, this was a very important job, as it depended on whether one particular person woke up, and whether everyone else would get to work on time.

The "alarm clock man" or "knocker" would walk the streets and knock on the right windows, or shoot peas at them, or sometimes throw stones to wake others up.

Of course, it was already clear at the time that this was not a job that would last. But work is work, especially if you get paid for it.

Pin setter

Bowling is believed to have originated in ancient Egypt 5,200 years before our era. So, presumably, bowling alley bowlers are one of the oldest professions. But it existed even in the 50s of the XX century, until Brunswick invented a mechanism that did it for people.

Interestingly, children were often the "workers". And this is despite the fact that the work was quite tiring, as the pins were not very light, and they also had to be placed in a very special way.

In addition, the installers were located directly at the end of the track, so sometimes they could be injured by knocked down pins or bowling balls.

Ice pick

Before mankind thought of refrigerators, food was stored in underground cellars, where it was always cool, or in ice that was cut in winter on lakes and rivers.

In the 1800s, ice cutting was a real and quite dangerous job.

Ice cutters used large saws to cut ice blocks, which were then transported to homes and businesses.

In the 1920s, the profession simply disappeared as modern refrigerators became available.

Leech collectors

Despite the fact that leeches are used for medical purposes even now, they used to be a real medical miracle, as doctors used them for controlled bloodletting and treatment of various diseases.

And as demand for leeches arose, so did the need for people to collect them.

Leech collectors went to swamps and marshes, where, at best, they caught leeches on an old horse, and at worst, on themselves. Not the best way to make a living.

Lantern maker

Apparently, representatives of this profession were good friends with the "alarm clocks". After all, they also had street work, 50% of which took place at dawn.

Until the streets started using electric lighting, people were needed to light lanterns every night, which were either oil-fired or had a candle inside. The problem was that each lantern had to be lit separately. And then you had to put each one out in the morning.

For his work, a lantern maker used a long stick with a lighted wick at one end.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the profession had almost disappeared.

Rat hunter

This profession was especially in demand in Europe during the plague pandemic known as the Black Death, as rats were a significant problem in cities.

Trappers would catch or shoot rats and hand them over to the authorities. Sometimes they were also responsible for disposing of the rats.

The profession was difficult and dangerous, as rats could infect the hunter with dangerous diseases.

The profession disappeared when scientists created a chemical poison that helped with pest control.


No, this is not one of the professions of the future, but just an old one that is no longer needed. At one time, this was the name given to a person who performed calculations manually, as there was no technology that could do this.

Women often did this work, as it was believed that they were better at the same type of repetitive tasks.

The invention of electronic computers put an end to this profession.


When anatomy as a science was only at the beginning of its development, scientists faced a problem with "research materials", because the best way to study the human body is to cut it open. The only problem was that pious people were convinced that the bodies of the dead should lie in the ground, not on an operating table where organs would be removed one by one.

Therefore, scientists and the universities that sponsored them had to invent a new profession - resurrectionist. But it was not as noble as you might think. They were thieves who stole the bodies of the dead for money and delivered them to scientists.

Later, the work of resurrectionists was legally recognised as illegal and banned. And the development of modern medicine finally put an end to it.

Cigarette girls

In the early 1900s, this was a common phenomenon, especially in the United States.

These workers were dressed in seductive clothes and visited establishments where potential smokers rested, offering them cigarettes.

The profession became unnecessary when self-service cigarette vending machines began to appear in establishments.

Toilet servant

It's probably hard to think of a worse "profession", but at one time someone did.

The toilet servant served the king in his most intimate moments, providing him with the most necessary things for going to the toilet: towels, water and a washbasin so he could finish his business. It is believed that such a servant also wiped the king's buttocks after defecation, but there is no evidence for this.

The servant's duties also included emptying the king's night potty.

In addition, such a servant was also responsible for conversations with the king during his trips to the toilet. It is said that sometimes these could be quite serious and thorough discourses, as the servant acted as a confidant of the king.

In the time of Henry VIII, the servant also kept an eye on the king's chair to make sure he was in good health.

It is believed that this profession later evolved into a financial advisor. Good career development.

Previously OBOZREVATEL told about which professions can replace artificial intelligence, and which can not.

Subscribe to OBOZREVATEL's Telegram and Viber channels to keep up with the latest news.

Other News

An unexpected climate savior of the Earth was found: it is an organism that is 400 million years old

An unexpected climate savior of the Earth was found: it is an organism that is 400 million years old

Scientists had no idea what role this organism plays in the purification of our planet