Gee, Mom, How'd You Get So Smart?

I know very little about my mother’s education, except that she attended public elementary and high school in Worcester, Massachusetts.

I don’t know the names of the schools she attended or what her favorite subjects were. I do know she had an excellent command of the English language and an aptitude for mathematics. She also possessed an incredible attention to detail.

I do have two school photographs of her. I believe the first was taken on 06 Oct 1936, meaning that she was 14 years old and probably in the 8th grade.

Jennie Niedzialkowski in Elementary School - 1936

Jennie Niedzialkoski in Elementary School – 1936

SOURCE: Jennie Niedzialkoski in Elementary School – 1936 (Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts). Photographed 06 Oct 1936.

The second photo was probably taken upon her graduation from high school, meaning that it was taken in about 1940.

Jennie Niedzialkoski in High School - about 1940

Jennie Niedzialkoski in High School – about 1940

SOURCE: Jennie Niedzialkoski in Elementary School – 1940 (Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts). Photographed about 1940.

Sometime, I’ll have to ask my aunt and uncles about my mother’s education. I suspect they’ll remember. After all, they probably attended the same schools she did.

In the 1940s, after graduating from high school, my mother worked for Graton & Knight Company in Worcester. Her job was variously described in the Worcester City Directories as Clerk, Computer Operator, and Keypunch Operator. I don’t know what business the firm Graton & Knight was in or why they would need to hire a Computer Operator or Keypunch Operator at a time when very few people even knew what these terms meant. Nonetheless, my remarkable mother was working with computers in the 1940s.

Copyright © 2008 by Stephen J. Danko

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4 Responses to Gee, Mom, How'd You Get So Smart?

  1. Barbara P. says:

    Hi Steve,
    Have you thought to contact the American Antiquarian Society? It is a great place to do research. Have you been there? Anyway, I would think somebody there would know about Graton & Knight Company. Good luck.

  2. Jasia says:

    Is that cool or what? Your mom working on computers back in the 1940s… amazing! I didn’t even know they had computers back then.

    Great photos!

  3. Barbara, thanks for the suggestion. I’d like to get to Worcester this summer and, if I do, I’ll put the American Antiquarian Society on my agenda. I have lots of questions about my ancestors’ occupations and schooling that they may be able to help me answer.

    Jasia, I suspect the computers my Mom worked with were more like tabulating machines. Punch cards and tabulators were used to process the 1890 US Federal Census and continued to be used for many decades.


  4. That’s so cool reading about your mom working as clerk, keypunch operator, and computer operator! It would be interesting to read more about this if you find out exactly what type of business and job your mom had!

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