Monday, June 23, 2008

Woman’s Relief Corps Flag Stand

Pictured here is a flag stand found among our military collection.

The Woman’s Relief Corps was an official Auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal and political organization composed of veterans of the Union Army who served in the American Civil War.

The WRC was founded in 1883 and is still active today. “The
WRC promotes patriotic education and support, by visiting schools, presenting flags and scholarships, holding patriotic essay competitions, visiting Veteran's hospitals, assisting Veterans, and holding Memorial, Veteran, and Flag Day ceremonies.”

The largest Ohio group is located in West Farmington. This consists of women as young as age thirteen who exhibit “good moral character and correct deportment, who have not given aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States of America and are citizens thereof, who would perpetuate the principles to which the association stands pledged.”

To learn more about the WRC, refer to the Website of the West Farmington, Ohio Corps listed below.

Sources: – Grand Army of the Republic.
Website: Hall #104 Woman’s Relief Corps.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


In the west wing of the attic are numerous medical items. Most of these items may have been found in a physician’s office decades ago. Upon rummaging in a box of medical instruments I found these two items that were listed as Tonsillotomes. These instruments were used to remove tonsils back in the early 1900’s.

“These tools have three sections to it. The bottom section is straight with a hollow circle at the end of it. Attached to the top of it is the middle section. The middle section is the same, however it is a bit shorter and has two round hollow handles attached to its side. There is also a groove in the middle section that allows for adjustment. The top section is long and straight. At the end of the top section there are small pitchfork like needles used for stabbing the tonsils”1

From inspecting these tools, the doctor would insert the working end into the back of the mouth, insert the tonsil through the double rings, pierce it with the forks, pull the upper ring which has a blade, cutting the tonsil, thus removing it.

Sounds awful doesn’t it? Be comforted in knowing that’s not the way it’s done any longer. With advanced medical technologies, more modern surgical techniques are used that are more efficient, preventing complications. To look into this subject, refer to the wikipedia link listed below.

1 Accession record # 80-08-14

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Home Blickensderfer Typewriter

Upon searching around the Museum, and looking into a small wooden box, this odd looking typewriter was found. What struck me was the small, lightweight machine with a rather odd keyboard.

In its day (1915), the “Blick”, as it was called, sold for $25 dollars. This is just one of many “Blicks” that were made starting in 1892; including the first electric typewriter. (1)

George C. Blickensderfer invented a new kind of typewriter in1892 in his small workshop at the rear of his Bedford Street home. He founded the Blickensderfer Manufacturing Company in 1889 to produce his invention. Blickensderfer typewriters featured the principle of revolving type and became the world's bestseller, and the company became one of the world's largest typewriter manufacturers.

The “Blick” typewriter could be outfitted with different type styles and other languages. When World War I cut off the company's large export markets, Blickensderfer invented a belt-loading device for machine guns and received enough orders from the French government to keep the company solvent. George Blickensderfer died in 1917, and three years later his company was taken over by the L.R. Roberts Typewriter Company. (2)

(1) The Classic Typewriter Page.
(2) “Stamford Industry Down the Years,” Tercentenary Advocate
The Daily Advocate Triennial Industrial Edition, 24 June 1909
Stamford City Directory, 1922”

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The X-Raylite

Cameron Surgical Specialty Co., Cool X-raylite Model

Pictured here is a fascinating medical instrument in the WCHC’s collection. The item is pictured in its felt covered case. The small glass tubes (wands) are inserted into the end of the handle.

From what can be found, this is that quite possibly a dental instrument. The handle has a high and low setting for the amount of electricity, or possible light that would pass through the interior of wand. It was a completely harmless tool; but it would administer “Electrotherapy” to the dental patient. The advantage to the patient is that it would somehow promote healthy teeth and gums.

“Electrotherapy was frequently utilized during the nineteenth century for the treatment of a variety of ailments. The theory behind this use of electricity was defined as early as 1783, when Johann Gottlob Kruger suggested that electrification could induce changes in the body that would restore and maintain health. During this period, electrification was shown to increase blood circulation, a development that led to increased acceptance of the therapeutic potential of electricity. During the nineteenth century, electrical devices became extremely popular in the United States and Europe. Although they were typically expensive and ineffective, they were generally fairly harmless to users.” (1)

The manufacturer of this device was Cameron’s Surgical Specialty Company, which existed in Chicago from 1915-1959. The “Cool X-raylite” was patented sometime between 1916-1923. (2)(3)

Electrotherapy is something still used today, in which the effectiveness is often questioned. It can be seen in a something known as “The Zapper” which uses the power from a 9-volt battery. Other examples include magnetic therapy and other means that can be investigated online.

1. Website of The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery – Virtual Museum Exhibits -- Electrotherapy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Say What?

Desktop Hearing Aid

This late 1930s Zenith hearing aid may seem ancient, but hearing aids have actually been around (in various forms) for hundreds of years. The earliest hearing aids were simply large horns or “ear trumpets”. Sound entered a large horn-like opening, while the smaller end was held in the ear. Variations and improvements on this concept were the only option until around the turn of the 20th century, when the first electrical hearing aids were developed, using carbon microphone technology. However, these devices were rife with problems. They were often large and impractical, their components (a microphone, battery box, processing unit, and headpiece) were often completely separate, their batteries had short life spans, and they could cost as much as $400.

Carbon microphone hearing aids went through improvements as well. There were even wearable versions by the 1930’s. But the invention of vacuum tube technology within processing units shrank hearing aids slightly and made sound much clearer for users of hearing aids. This Zenith Ravox hearing aid is a tabletop model from 1938. It used vacuum tube technology and housed all components, except for the earpiece, in one unit. Rather than using batteries, this unit plugged into an electrical outlet. (Which were still fairly impractical at the time!) A control knob is used to adjust the amplifier in order to emphasize certain frequencies and pitch ranges. The Ravox was cheaper than many earlier models, costing around $30.

Manufacture of tabletop hearing aids continued until improvements in batteries and microphones made them obsolete. These new models combined the microphone, amplifier, and battery into a single unit that could be placed on, or even in the human ear. This allowed for improved hearing and concealment. Today, there are even digital hearing aids that allow for even greater clarity and control of sound. Hearing aid technology has certainly come a long way. From ear trumpets, to tabletop models, to digital earpieces, technology has continued to help hearing aids make life easier for the hearing impaired.


* Post prepared by Tyler Jones, WCHC Student Intern.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Victorian Era Casket

During the Victorian era (1860-1910), funerals were held in the home of the family of the deceased. For the funeral, the coffin was draped with a black shroud, and all the mirrors were covered with black crepe. The funeral would have been the last formal reception of the guests by the deceased. Based on the etiquette of the period, the family of the deceased would provide gifts, food, and wine. The gifts ranged from ostrich feathers to gloves, fans, and mourning jewelry. Often, feasts were prepared as part of the mourning ritual, and in some cases the wine served at the funeral would have been wine that was saved from the deceased’s wedding. The extravagance of the funeral and mourning gifts reflected the social status of the deceased and their family.

Here in the museum we hold two Victorian era caskets. The one pictured is a child or infant size unlined coffin (casket) made circa 1900. It was made of mahogany (now blackened) finish on wood with silver decorations at the corners of the base. The lid has a glass-covered opening for viewing. The casket was never used, but was purchased by Henry Nieman for resale of the Nieman Brothers Funeral Home in Pemberville Ohio.

This casket was donated to the museum by Doritt Beckman of Pemberville. Dorrit Beckman was married to Clarence Beckman (5/10/1924-01/1995). Clarence's maternal grandfather, Henry Nieman, was the funeral director and mortician at the Nieman Brothers Funeral Home in Pemberville. Henry's brother, Charles Nieman (who had funeral homes in Woodville and Gibsonberg before joining his brother in Pemberville), was a partner. The Nieman Brothers became the Nieman-Beckman Funeral Home in 1940, when Clarence became a partner.

This item is held at the museum in memory of Clarence Beckman of the Nieman-Beckman Funeral Home, Pemberville, Ohio.

*This post prepared by WCHC graduate student intern Erin Gentry.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Order of the Arrow

The items pictured are a sash (left) and a neckerchief slide (right) for the Order of the Arrow, an organization of Boy Scouts of America.

The sash is made of white felt, and is worn over the right shoulder, then snapped at the bottom. This particular sash was made in the 1950s. (1)

The neckerchief used to be bright red in color, however, it has faded over time. Assuming from the other scouting items that this was found with, it probably dates around the same time as the sash.

Order of the Arrow is a national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts are selected by their peers as those best exemplifying the Scout Oath and Scout Law in their daily life. (2)

1. Tracking The OA Sash Through Time., by Devang Desai, 1999. Posted on

*Post prepared by Lynn Wineland, WCHC Volunteer