The Civil War accelerated the federal employment of women as the male labor force diminished with the demands of the war. In 1862, the Treasury Department instituted the first systematic effort to hire women as “temporary clerks” to trim sheets of currency.
Job opportunities for women increased in 1883 when Congress passed the Civil Service Act, making a limited number of government posts in Washington open to competitive exams. By 1894, females made up 14 percent of the government clerical force.
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Image: Trimming Currency, 1907. From the Records of the Public Buildings Service.