I apologize for my long absence. I’m finally on winter break, so I’ll be posting more frequently.
I hope you all had a good holiday and I wish you a fabulous New Year’s Eve/Day.
Granville T. Woods (1856-1910) was a prolific engineer and inventor. A year after forming the Woods Electric Company in 1884, he sold the patent for an invention that allowed a telegraph station to send voice and telegraph messages over a single wire (called the ”telegraphony”) to the American Bell Telephone Company. In 1887, Woods created the “induction telegraph” (or Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph) which allowed communication between moving trains, greatly reducing railway accidents.
Woods’ other inventions included: an air-brake system (purchased by George Westinghouse), the power system known as “the third rail” (a conductor of electricity set parallel to the subway’s tracks), and a thermostatically controlled egg incubator.
*Check out this short Granville T. Woods Documentary to learn more about the man dubbed “the Black Edison.”
From the electronic to the scientific: a range of microscopes.
Last one for now - hygiene items. I confess to being rather surprised by the specifically named vaginal syringe. Congress would be offended …
Wonderful Aesthetic Piece: 1870’s Medical Student Surgery Table. Fantastic Cast Iron Claw feet, Fully Articulated, Binder Holders still working, Oak table top, Wood Tray. All the decoration is 1876 Colonial Revival. Amazing Quality and Detail. Available @ $1200
Badass Scientist of the Week: Ellen Swallow Richards
Ellen Swallow Richards (1842–1911) was the most prominent female American chemist of the 19th century, and a pioneer in sanitary engineering. Her family was relatively poor, so she had to work to save enough money to attend Vassar College. She earned earned a Bachelor of Science in 1870, and was most attracted to astronomy (as a pupil of Maria Mitchell) and chemistry. After being rejected by various industrial chemists, she instead applied to MIT and soon became their first female student. She received her second bachelor’s degree, then a master’s from Vassar, and continued with hopes of earning a doctorate from MIT. Although MIT would not award doctorates to women until 1886, Richards perservered, establishing a Women’s Laboratory and becoming an (unpaid) instructor in chemistry and mineralogy. When MIT opened the nation’s first laboratory of sanitary chemistry, she was appointed its instructor. Around this time, Richards also undertook a survey of the pollution Massachusetts’ water supplies, and from this the first water quality standards were born. She served as a water analyst for the State Board of Health as well as working as an instructor at MIT, and she was primarily concerned with both public health and applying scientific ideas of domestic ideas—she believed that having good nutrition, proper clothing, fitness, sanitation and efficiency would give women more time to pursue interests other than cooking and cleaning. Richards co-founded the American Association of University Women, which helps open the doors of higher education to other women even to this day, and in 1910 she was granted an honorary doctor of science degree from Vassar College. A powerful leader, a wise teacher and a tireless worker, Richards died from illness in 1911.
She had to put up with a lot of shit. What a hero.
Vaginal speculum, Paris, France, 1801-1900
A vaginal speculum examines inside the vagina. This helps medical diagnosis. It can also assist treating that area of the body. This brass ‘duck-billed’ example is known as a bi-valve speculum. The blades extend by rotating the ratchet mechanism. The intimate nature of its use caused initial opposition. However, specula had become routine instruments in gynaecological examinations by the end of the 1800s.
Artificial left arm, Europe, 1850-1910
“Made from steel and brass, the elbow joint on this artificial arm can be moved by releasing a spring, the top joint of the wrist rotates and moves up & down, and the fingers can curl up and straighten out. The wearer may have disguised it with a glove. Among the most common causes of amputation throughout the 1800s were injuries received as a result of warfare.”