Reader question… “I found your site searching for information about prices in 1860. I find your posts about the past to be extremely interesting and I envy your access to the old journals and newspaper clippings. I wonder — do you perhaps have anything relating to wages around the time of the Civil War that you would be willing to share?” –Cerise M.

Will this do? :o) These are weekly wages for various occupations in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut in the year 1860. This listing of wages filled several pages in one journal… I have picked out the professions that were (to me) the most interesting. I believe the information came from a government report on Labor Statistics.

All of these figures are for a WEEKLY wage.

Blacksmith — $11.20
Box maker (boys) — $3.50
Box maker (men) — $11.20
Box maker (women and girls) — $5.71
Bread baker — $8.06
Cabinet maker — $10.56
Carpenter — $9.95
Carpenter (laborer) — $7.16
Carriage maker — $11.82
Chair maker — $10.11
Cigar maker (men) — $12.00
Cigar maker (women) — $7.50
Cracker baker — $7.83
Dressmaker — $6.52
Engineer — $10.50
Fireman — $15.00
Gold worker — $15.00
Mason — $11.45
Mason and plasterer (laborer) — $7.14
Metal worker — $7.00
Painter — $11.08
Paper hanger — $12.95
Plasterer — $10.15
Plumber — $14.05
Printer (men) — $11.00
Printer (women) — $4.00
Proofreader — $19.54
Shearer — $5.40
Shipbuilder (new work) — $21.00
Shipbuilder (repair work) — $24.00
Shoemaker — $10.33
Spinner (girls) — $2.37
Spinner (men) — $8.00
Spinner (women) — $4.00
Steel worker — $10.50
Upholsterer — $10.90
Upholstery sewer — $6.00
Watchman — $7.50
Weaver (men) — $7.50
Weaver (women) — $5.25
Wheelwright — $10.64
Wood worker — $9.00 to $11.00

Leopard’s bane (Doronicum orientale)

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Barbara S.

Fascinating! This gives me a clue as to why my grandmother’s ancestors always had an era of being slightly upper class; my great grandfather was a shipbuilder.

Cerise M.

Thank you so much for answering my question with such detail. This is exactly what I was hoping for.


Wow! Women and children sure didn’t make as much as the men did, did they? I find these type of posts so very interesting especially since the information was collected first hand by your relative. It is so much more real than just a dry statistical report. Thank you so much for sharing these.


This is so interesting! Do you happen to know if the Engineer was a locomotive engineer or civil/mechanical/etc. engineer?