From a Naval Lieutenant on the Tsar’s yacht, to an Engineer in the US

Some documents can be helpful when you are tracing the history of your ancestors. Obviously birth, marriage and death certificates give you plenty of information as do immigration documents and census records. But even unofficial documents can help discover what sort of lives your ancestors lived – like their resumes.

I have a copy of one of the resumes for my grandfather, Paul Woronoff. It shows his work history from 1929 until 1952. It is interesting and gives a fair amount of detail of where he was working and what he was doing.

In June 1928 my grandparents, Paul and Olga Woronoff, together with my mother Tatiana, migrated from France to the USA. In the ship’s records my grandfather is listed as a “Skilled Agriculturist”. According to my grandfather’s resume, sometime in 1929 he begins work with Day & Zimmermann Inc, Consulting Engineers. He lists himself as an Engineer in the Investigation and Reports Department. I know that my great grandfather was an engineer and my grandfather studied science in the Russian Navy Corps, but I have as yet found no evidence that he studied engineering.

Nevertheless, it appears that he enjoyed working for Day & Zimmermann as he kept going back there. His first stint with them lasted until 1931, but by 1934 he was again working there, this time as an Appraiser on Public Utilities. I find his job titles fascinating – I wonder what he actually did in that role. In 1935 my grandfather leaves Day & Zimmermann, only to return to them again two years later. This time his role is Office Manager of Plant Records and Procedures Department. My grandfather stayed with the company until 1944 and, as far as I know, never returned.

On his resume my grandfather fleshed out the last role he had with Day & Zimmermann. It appears the department he worked in had over 200 engineers and accountants and they designed records and devised procedures for 39 companies, with a total plant value of over USD2 billion! My grandfather writes that in 1942 he was assigned to a defence plant where he was eventually put in charge of organisation, installation and supervision of the company records, designing forms and devising procedures. He also supervised the office personnel, including being responsible for their training.

Day & Zimmermann still exists and are still located in Philadelphia. On their website they note that in 1938 “the company was an early and important contributor to the new war effort, facilitating industry’s rapid shift toward defense production”. In 1941 the company “helps design and engineer the US Marine Corp Depot of Supplies in Philadelphia”. I wonder if my grandfather worked on either of those two projects.

My grandfather’s career certainly had some interesting twists and turns. From a Russian naval cadet, to a lieutenant on the Tsar’s yacht, to an engineer in the US – I bet he never dreamed his life would turn out the way it did. The photo above is of my grandfather in 1937, it was taken in Washington DC.

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