At the time, the phone system didn’t function without an operator to find numbers and to manually connect the wires. Telephones had only been functioning for a few years, and during that time companies had only hired teenage boys as operators. Parents would not be surprised to learn that these teenagers were frequently in trouble for being impatient and even cursing at their customers.
Emma was only the first female operator. Within a few years, almost all telephone operators were women. They generally worked under rather strict conditions for rather poor pay, but it was a respectable position in a time when very few jobs were open to women. In addition, the town telephone operator was the first to know any news, which had to be quite fun some days!
You can get more information about the first telephone operators here. While learning about phones and their history is a great way to celebrate this day, I’d also suggest a little hands on partying: give a friend a call! Today is as good a day as any for catching up with friends both new and old.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”