Occupations: Office Boy, Office Girl

This was the equivalent of today’s office junior job. The 1921 census occupation classifications described the work of as follows:

office boy, office girl; runs messages, addresses envelopes, makes up, stamps and posts letters, parcels, circulars, etc.; makes press copies of letters and and accounts, and indexes them; sometimes answers enquiries of callers, and puts them into communication with senior members of staff…1

Other similar jobs, according to the description, included post boy and junior clerk.

Office boys and girls, under the 1921 census grouping of jobs, were recorded under Occupational Classification Code Number 939. This code came under the overall heading of ‘Other Clerks’ in the Clerks and Draughtsmen (not Civil Service or Local Authority), Typists’ category.

Adverts often appeared in the Situations Vacant columns. For example, the following is from 1906 and, ironically given the post, included a typographic error:

WANTED, as OFFICE BOY, wages 10s per per [sic] week. Applications to be sent to the Borough Electrical Engineer, Bradford Road, Dewsbury.2

This one from 1914 indicated typical attributes required:

WANTED, Smart YOUTH about 14 for office, must be good writer.…3

A rough and ready census search on Findmypast, limiting the parameters to Batley only, resulted in 16 office boys recorded in the 1911 census.4 These included Edward Leonard, who is commemorated on the St Mary’s War Memorial. The results are very broad brush, but give a rough indication.

1. A Dictionary of Occupational Terms: Ministry of Labour. Based on the Classification of Occupations Used in the Census of POPULATION, 1921. His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1927.
2. Batley News & Yorkshire Woollen District Advertiser, 12 January 1906.
3. Batley News, 14 November 1914.
4. The search, conducted on 4 February 2022 was limited to ‘office boy’ only, and applied directly to Batley.