In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Maine History Online

Maine History Online
MHS (Maine Historical Society)
Header Graphic

Working Women of the Old Port

Porteous, Mitchell & Braun Department Store, Portland, ca. 1912

Porteous, Mitchell & Braun Department Store, Portland, ca. 1912

Item 11160 info
Maine Historical Society

Department stores were the new shopping phenomenon at the turn of the 20th century and, unlike earlier stores where one went in solely to buy something, department stores offered browsing, along with a variety of activities meant to draw in customers, most of whom were women.

Most of the clerks, too, were women, trained in appropriate dress, speech, and customer relations.

In Portland in the first decade of the 20th century, four large department stores -- Porteous, Mitchell & Braun, Eastman Bros. & Bancroft, Rines Bros., and J. R. Libby -- employed more than 500 women.