In 1867, several American newspapers ran the story of Miss Fannie Paine, an employee of the Eagle Works Manufacturing Company in Chicago. Fannie was employed by the company as a bookkeeper the previous May, aged 12 years. She was promoted to paymaster shortly after her 13th birthday. According to one report, in the second half of 1866:
“…she will have paid out about a quarter of a million dollars, keeping the time sheets, payroll and a private account for each of the 400 men employed. She receives the money weekly from the bank, to the amount of $4,000 to $5,000, carries the transaction of paying all the men through, settles and makes her balances with the cashier. She knows every man in the establishment [and its] eleven departments…”
Fannie reportedly made $12 a week, more than the wage of skilled male industrial workers. She also “attends an evening course at a commercial college” and “takes two music lessons each week”. According to other sources, Eagle Works was well known for its progressive employment policies, hiring women and African-Americans at pay rates equal to those of skilled white males – a rarity in Gilded Age America. The company was forced into closure during an economic depression in the mid-1870s.