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(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Laundry was the worst job in the weekly domestic drudgery. This wooden washing machine, found in a Deerfield, Massachusetts, home, is a product of the effort to improve on that drudgery. There were an enormous number of patents for domestic labor-saving devices earned in the 19th century. Clearly there was a demand for such artifacts and a sense among inventors that they could make a fortune if they succeeded. Most of them did not. What they seemed to be doing was trying to more easily mechanize the motions of the hand, and in this case, that of the washboard. This often resulted in rougher action on the clothes, which caused them to wear out more quickly. Other problems included the rust from the metal parts, which stained the clothes.
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