Vanishing Trades of Singapore

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Vanishing Trades

Through a comprehensive review of existing literature relating to vanishing trades (both reading materials and online resources), this literature review will provide an understanding of vanishing trades as a whole, and vanishing trades in our local context . Firstly, the issue of establishing the definition of ‘Vanishing Trades’; by our team’s definition, it basically refers to the slow disappearance of skilled professions that were once valued, but have lost their significance and places in today’s society (due to various reasons).

Although there is not a substantial amount of academic literature made available in dealing with the ‘crisis’ of vanishing trades, academic texts were found (mainly online) which discuss possible reasons for and causes of the decline in these trades, which will provide a useful background to the issues explored. These resources would be beneficial to our project on Vanishing Trades as it would equip us with not only more background information regarding the issues, but would also aid us in the composition of our story angles and articles.

The first section of this literature review will identify and assess historical examples of trades that have already vanished in varies societies, and the possible causes and effects of changing times. The second section will provide a more in-depth scope, highlighting the trades that have already vanished in Singapore, and the current trades that are on the verge of vanishing completely, becoming trades of yester-years. Literature relating to these will be critically analyzed and used to project various possible vanishing trades that our team could write on.

This would depend on the viability/ suitability, as News Values such as ‘Currency’ (since we are writing for a publication, The Straits Times, and we have to provide an updated account for vanishing trades of Singapore in retrospect), ‘Possible Future Impact’ (as we are trying to inform and educate our readers on these vanishing trades), ‘Conflict’ (between these vanishing trades and how the times have changed with the advent of modernization/globalization, technological advances etc), ‘Human Interest’ (whereby readers could be interested not just out of curiosity but having a sense of respect or perhaps giving due recognition to these vanishing trades) and of course ‘Shock Value’ (to learn that there are such trades or professions in Singapore etc).

Section One: Vanished Trades That Are Now History!

Early America

According to “Early America at Work Pictorial Guide to Vanishing Occupations” (Everett B. Wilson, 1963), Everett highlighted just a handful of the many occupations that have vanished in the 20th century, back in the earlier days of America, long before the Industrial Revolution. Some of the graphic illustrations in the book portray various types of segmentations, similar to concept of the various fields of expertise and types of industries that we have in our current society.

These segmentations are as follows:

“The Pioneers (Frontiersmen, Indian Fighters, Vigilantes), The Public Servants (Lamplighters, Town Criers, Chimney Sweeps, Viewers, Law Enforcers, Cops on the Beat, Whitewings, Snow Wardens, Burgomasters), The Itinerants (Wanderers, Peripatetics, Itinerant Servicemen, Street Vendors), The Business People (Innholders, Coffeehouse owners, Saloon keepers, Merchant Princes, Home Craftsmen, Harness Makers, Turners, Smiths, Mongers, Wrights, Makers, Perukers, Sempstresses, Codmen, Retail Clerks, Sharpener men), The Servants (Subjects, Slaves, Slaveholders, Menials, Household Servants, Working Children), The Professionals (Pedagogues, Preachers, Scribes, Barristers), The Unusual People (Dowsers, Scorchers, Wagon Doctors, Hermits), The Entertainers (Merry Andrews, Foretellers, Conjurers), Horse People (Horse riders, Animal drivers, Horse handlers, coachmen, carriage-makers) Transportation People (Mariners, Shipbuilders, Boatmen, Trolleymen,...
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