Women in the Work Force from Statehood to World War II
Utah Historical Quarterly
Salt Lake City, UT
Utah State Historical Society
IN THE EARLY 1900S CHARLES O. HARRIS of the Utah Independent Telephone Company visited the Maxfield homestead in Big Cottonwood Canyon. He asked two daughters of the house if they would be interested in working for the new venture. The girls' father was outraged : "No daughter of mine will ever be a telephone operator. Most of them are nothing but little hussies." As the chagrined Harris quickly explained to his host, such a notion was incorrect. The Independent was looking for good girls." Lois and Josie Ellen Maxfield were surely that, and, more to the point, they were experienced workers eager to learn new skills. Like so many young women of their time, they had labored not only at home but as poorly paid domestics in the homes of others. With their father's worst fears allayed, the two sisters—one just in her middle teens—went to work in Salt Lake City for the promising, but short-lived, competition to the Bell System.