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A knocker-up, sometimes known as a knocker-upper, was a profession in Britain and Ireland that started during and lasted well into the Industrial Revolution, when alarm clocks were neither cheap nor reliable, and to as late as the beginning of the 1950s. A knocker-up's job was to rouse sleeping people so they could get to work on time.

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"Back in the days before alarm clocks, people needed to be sure they didn’t miss the start of their shift at the mill or factory. Either the workers or sometimes the mill owner would hire a knocker-up (also called a knocker-upper), whose duty was to ensure people woke up. Usually armed with a large pole (though at least one used a pea shooter), he or she would rap repeatedly on the person’s bedroom window at the allotted time, not leaving until certain that the person was awake. In some areas, the knocker-up remained a common sight into the 1930s."

Contributed by Rachel Peterson

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