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Ancestor Occupation Match-up

By Sunny Jane Morton
Ancestor Occupation Match-up from Family Tree Kids

Have you ever wondered how you will earn a living when you grow up? If so, you’re thinking about occupations. Children have always wondered what they will be when they grow up. Your ancestors might have recited this old jump-rope rhyme about occupations:

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor;
Rich man, poor man, beggar-man, thief!

What is a tinker? That occupation doesn’t really exist anymore. As the world changes, what people do for work changes, too. Knowing what someone did for a living helps us understand them better. Take this quiz to see how many old-time occupations you can identify—some still exist, others don’t.

Download the worksheet to match each old-time occupation with its correct job description.

Need some help?  

Hint 1: Sometimes you’ll see part of the definition in the occupation word (like “saw” in sawyer). But be careful, this doesn’t work for some other occupations, such as milliner.

Hint 2: Some of the expressions we use today come from old occupations. To “tinker” means to fix (especially metal objects). To “cobble something together” means to patch it up or repair it. A “huckster” today tries to trick you into buying something. To be “cooped up” means to feel like you’re trapped in a small space (like a box or barrel).


Think about these work-related questions:

  1. What occupations exist today that didn’t exist 200 years ago? Hint: Think about things we use that weren’t around then.
  2. Not so long ago, women were only allowed to do certain jobs. Which ones in the matching game above do you think were usually done by women? By men? What about today: Do you think there are still jobs done mostly by women or men?
  3. Where can you find out what your ancestors did for a living? With a grown-up, check a census record or obituary to see whether they mention occupations.

Answers to the quiz: 1. C; 2. K; 3. J; 4. M; 5. B; 6. G; 7. H; 8. A; 9. F; 10. I; 11. D; 12. E; 13. L  Women could be a: spinster, midwife, milliner, keeping house, lavender. Men could be a: wainwright, teamster, millwright, cobbler, cooper, tinker, sawyer. A huckster could be a man or a woman.