Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office

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at Amazon for a song

It\’s like someone was reading my retrotech mind. Washing machines and dictaphones and typewriters, oh my! Never mind that this little ditty was published about seventeen years ago by The Cooper-Hewitt National Museum of Design, I never saw it so it\’s new to me.

Mechanical Brides covers all the gadgetry of cleaning, cooking,  and rote office work. What I found most interesting is the chapter on office machines (of course) and the feminization of this technology. Turning a male clerk into a female secretary involved separating the act of writing into two distinct jobs:  composition and typing. While male clerks had done both, female typists were relegated to writing as assembly line production. Interesting now is that we\’ve come full-techno-circle, because everyone with a laptop both composes and produces \”typed\” text.

Business invented a middle-woman and then obsoleted her. Not that it was a bad thing, really, but that\’s a rant for another post.

This book is as much about feminine identity as it is about the machines that defined it. Full of stunning/appalling advertising copy and art, it\’s a steal if you can find one either on Amazon or Ebay. In fact, I\’d like to have a copy just to cut up and frame.

2 thoughts on “Mechanical Brides: Women and Machines from Home to Office

  1. It's amazing how women have achieved to accept machines. At the beginning they thought machines were gonna replace passion man feel for them, but girls are girls, and there is not anything better in this world.

  2. I saw that exhibit at the Cooper Hewett in NY back in the mid 1990s. I lent them some typewriters from my collection for the show. I remember how they sent an large truck and three (very professional) movers to transport my typewriters to the show. A first class organization. It was fun to see them (my typewriters) there. In appreciation, we were given a package of goodies from the show, one was The Mechanical Brides book. My favorite was a tee-shirt with the same logo on it. My wife enjoyed weaing it for a long time. Thank you Cooper Hewett. Tony Casillo – NY http://www.typewritercollector.com

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