Modern technology has benefited households as well as industry | News, Sports, Jobs

Pinterest mail order companies such as Sears, Roebuck and Co. revolutionized nationwide merchandise distribution just before the turn of the 20th century and also revolutionized household management. Sears made time- and labor-saving items like sewing machines affordable, available — and a necessity. Machine offerings from several companies, such as Minnesota, Edgemere, and others, offered women many different price ranges, options, and attachments that saved enough time on sewing and garment making to make a sewing machine a wise investment. Offering everything from “medicine” to agricultural tools, tombstones and monuments, mail-order companies transferred purchases from the local store owner to the consumer, and often at lower prices.

While the Lake Superior copper region provided tons of refined copper to the American Industrial Revolution, it also reaped the fruits of the same revolution. Everything from boilers to steam engines, rock crushers to air compressors and drills have been experienced, tested and adopted in the region. But modern technology, as we have begun to discuss, has also found its way into homes. A single example is bringing water into houses and equipping inlet pipes with taps. Running water also introduced conveniences such as “water closet”.

The term “water closet” was a first term for a room with a toilet. the “water closet” was invented in England around 1870. It did not reach the United States until the 1880s.

Around this time, medical science was beginning to link poor sanitation practices to disease, a problem that was growing rapidly as population centers became more densely populated. Larger companies, such as C&H, had built a sewage drainage system in 1893 which allowed the installation of toilets. When first installed, however, they were installed in home basements rather than fitted closets. Still, a basement toilet was a huge improvement over a mad rush to an unheated outhouse in a February blizzard.

For women, running water with taps also simplified the work of cleaning dishes and laundry. Before indoor water, washing clothes involved using water in a wooden bucket with a washboard. The wife and mother, or maid in wealthier homes, who washed the clothes often needed to carry water up to eight times from the nearest well and spent a whole day doing a week of laundry.

Another innovation that found its way into many Copper Country homes was the modern sewing machine. Before the 1850s, History of Things reports, sewing was the most time-consuming part of “women’s work”, in addition to child rearing and general household management. The women hand-sewed sheets, pillowcases, tablecloths, towels and clothes. A series of mechanical sewing machines had come and gone from the market before Isaac Singer patented and mass-produced his trademark in 1851.

At the time, Singer and Co. was best known for its treadle machine, the article reports. The arm, needle and plate were mounted on a table and fed from below by a pedal (the pedal), the two components being connected by a leather belt. The table and pedal were obvious to anyone entering the room and large enough to be considered a piece of furniture.

Sears, Roebuck and Company’s mail order catalog for 1900 silently admitted that sewing machines were somewhat expensive.

“If you want to buy a sewing machine and can’t afford to pay between $15.00 and $19.00 (depending on cabinet style) for one of the best machines money can buy …or if you can’t afford to pay even $12.35…we’d be happy to accept your order of our $9.84 Belmont machine, or even our $48.45 Homan machine. One of the main advantages of these machines is that they were powered by foot pedals and therefore did not need electricity to operate.

Although a sewing machine could be expensive, it was considered a worthwhile investment because it greatly reduced the amount of sewing time needed. The ability to wash clothes indoors also eliminated a lot of time running to the well to fetch water, as well as the physical exertion of carrying the weight of a bucket of water.

Unaware of it by residents of remote places like the copper-rich Lake Superior region, mail-order businesses at the turn of the 20th century were revolutionizing retail sales and marketing.

As Smithsonian Magazine stated: “Mail-order companies like Sears were able to penetrate underserved rural areas by relying on new infrastructure, such as railroads that connected remote parts of the country.”

Sears dominated the rural retail market with its enormous catalog, an incredible job of product advertising, consumer education and branding, according to the Smithsonian. Titled The Book of Bargains and later The Great Price Maker, the famous Sears catalog grew in the 1890s, from watches and jewelry to everything from baby carriages and bicycles to sporting goods and sewing machines. . It has educated millions of shoppers on mail order procedures such as shipping, cash payment, substitutions and returns. He used simple, informal language and a warm, welcoming tone. “We seek honest criticism more than orders,” the 1908 catalog indicated, emphasizing customer satisfaction above all else. Sears taught Americans to shop.

Although primarily known for selling home appliances, Sears at one point tapped into the real estate market, Ellen Torres wrote for the New York Daily News. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold approximately 70,000 to 75,000 homes through its mail-order program. Customers could choose between different styles and then received the tools to build it.

The Quincy Mining Company used the Sears houses. the annual report for 1900 indicated that six “good built dwelling houses” at Mesnard’s Division, 12 at North Quincy, 10 at Hillside Addition in Hancock and six at the Stamp Mill. The 1908 annual report indicates that during the year 1908, seven six-room houses were added to the Mesnard and Pontiac sites. These homes were built from standardized designs by Sears, Roebuck and Company, according to the article by Erik Nordberg “Company Houses Along the Picket Line: A Photographic Essay on the Michigan Copper Strike of 1913.”

Quincy, however, had nowhere near as much respect for its workers as other mining companies. Apart from the houses built for the mining agents, the company did not install sewer lines to its houses, nor bother to supply water to its houses. So while workers and their families from other business districts moved on into the 20th century, in Quincy residents were still forced to draw water from wells and use now primitive toilets. But Quincy also paid the price for his arrogance, in the form of high worker turnover and rents.

In his book, Hoagland reports that in ten years between 1890 and 1900, the company lost nearly two-thirds of its tenants.

Yet it was the private sector – the home – that really began to benefit from the mail-order catalogs of companies such as Sears, Roebuck and Company, which made mass-produced goods available at lower prices. As Nancy F. Koehn pointed out in her article, An Essay from 19th Century US Newspapers Database Consumerism and Consumption, points out:

“As the scale and reach of national distribution has expanded, households have placed less reliance on the local retailer’s assessment of a particular product. Instead, consumers learned to know and trust products through the way new brands were advertised. »

It would be almost, if not totally impossible, to quantify the products purchased by mail order by the households of the mining companies. But at the same time, one could say with a fair amount of certainty that many did. Companies such as Sears and Roebuck offered a wider selection of appliances, clothing, accessories and other goods as local stores scrambled to meet growing consumer demands. The nation was in a period of great change; the copper region of Lake Superior was in the game.

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