Good payroll records are a necessity for any business. One of the
fundamental types of record is the time book, with printed forms
to record the hours worked by employees on a weekly basis. A.
& L. Tirocchi did use these printed time books, probably
purchased from an office supply store, but the bookkeeper generally
only recorded the wage paid weekly, not the hours worked.
The books have a column for workers name, followed by seven
columns for days of the week, followed by columns for total time
worked, rate of pay, and amount. Usually only the first and last
columns would be filled in for a particular week in the Tirocchi
shop. Then, the payroll would be totaled at the bottom of the page.
Sometimes, the bookkeeper would make notations about a workers
absence, such as "out all week" or "out one day."
In rare cases, the daily columns would be checked, indicating just
which days the employees worked. Sometimes, too, the bookkeeper
would record expenses for the week, such as:
Roses, Mrs. Wall $5
Miss Bradford expenses $2
Boy for lawn $5
These time books would yield more information about the work patterns
and wages of the workers if the forms had been completed. Hourly
wage rates are sometimes recorded for a worker, but often only the
weekly wage appears. It is not clear whether or nor the Tirocchi
workers were paid overtime wages, but it is known that when a rush
was on, the workers put in long hours.
One thing the time books do help establish is the seasonal nature
of the shops business. The fall and the spring were the busiest
times, and the shop was generally closed all or much of the summer.
The books also help document busy times through the number of workers
employed in a given period, and they helped the curators track who
was in the shop at any given time.
The time books generally preceded the more rigorous payroll books
and show the size of the workforce and something about the patterns
of workless regular than today. Workers appear to have taken
time off as well as to have been laid off for lack of work. Also,
the books indicate long-term "career" workers as well
as many more short-timers.
Scholars use the time books as one piece of evidence only for analyzing
the business of the shop. Only when looking at many of the books
can they begin to see patterns emerge about the way workers were
employed, promoted, and paid. They used the books as the basis for
providing the names of the workers as entered in the project database
of workers. Much of what the curators now know about the "girls,"
supplemented with oral histories and other sources, came initially
from analysis of the time books.
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