What Electricity Brought

Maytag washing machine and butter churn, Littleton, ca. 1942

This washing machine, contributed by the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum, is one of many objects in our new (this week) museum exhibit, Wired! How Electricity Came to Maine, that illustrate generation, transmission, and consumption of electricity in Maine.

Made by Maytag, this electric model has a removable cream separator / butter churn attachment. The attachment is the steel canister inside the washtub, which fits over the pin for the agitator; the white housing on top holds the wringer.

Appliances such as this were marketed to rural housewives and farming families who were less likely to adopt electricity than families in cities and towns. Once rural areas were wired, utilities promoted benefits such as electric milking machines and lighted and heated chicken coops. Electric washing machines agitated clothes to clean them, replacing the manual labor of hand washing.

Visit the artifact’s Maine Memory Network page and listen to an audio clip of Dot Campbell describing her use of a washer/butter churn in the 1950s.

And don’t forget to take in the new exhibit sometime this year. Wired! opens this Friday, June 22, and will be up through May 26, 2013.

About mainechp

Maine Community Heritage Project at Maine Historical Society
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