Prior to the 1800’s, the idea of powered washing machine was just beginning to come to fruition. That being said, the “scrub board” or “washboard” has arguably been around for ages. The traditional washboard were made out of a rectangular piece of wood that had a series of ridges for the clothing to be rubbed upon. Whereas, later washboards still had a wooden fame, but its ridges were made out of metal. Yet, rubbing, wringing, and lifting water-laden clothes and linen was a daunting and time consuming task. To ease this chore, numerous washing machines models were being patented during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
For instance, New Yorkers Amos Larcom and Nicholas Bennett and Canadian John E. Turnbull are just a few of the long list of names associated with the development of the washing machine in the early 1800’s and onwards. In 1858, William Blackstone of Indiana built a washing machine for his wife that was the first official washing machine model made for convenient use at home to remove dirt and stains. In 1907, the Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company out of Chicago invented the “Thor” washing machine which was the first commercially sold electric-powered model with a galvanized tub and an electric motor.
We house three washing machines in our collection:
A hand crank washing machine manufactured by the Boss Washing Machine Company out of Norwood, Ohio. Run by the companies president Conrad Dietz, they produced and developed models from hand-operated wooden machines to electric-motorized metal washers.
A wooden Dolly Washer that was water powered. While we do not know what company manufactured this model, we do know that it was patented in 1916.
Lastly, a wooden hand operated model manufactured, circa 1908, by the Michigan Washing Machine Company out of Muskegon, Mi.