Image Syracuse 'Easy' washing machine, 1920s-30s

TLF ID R6387

This is an electric domestic washing machine of a type that was manufactured by the Syracuse Washer Corporation under the name 'Easy' during the 1920s and 30s. The machine is made from enamelled metal and stainless steel, and features two tubs set in a triangular frame. The larger tub is the agitator tub and the smaller tub acted to rinse and spin the clothes. The washing machine stands 98.2 cm high, is 104.4 cm in length and 62.0 cm wide.




Educational details

Educational value
  • The electrically powered 'Easy' washer with its agitator for washing and separate spin dryer is the basis of the standard twin-tub washing machine and at the time represented a major advance in washing-machine design. Although there had been some attempts before 1900 to power washing machines by water or steam, the invention of the first electric washing machine, patented in 1910, was a turning point in washing-machine design. The next breakthrough after the twin tub was the arrival of fully automatic machines, which only became available in the 1970s when engineers developed suitable gearboxes.
  • In order to operate this machine, the dirty washing and soap were placed inside the agitator tub. Hot water was fed into the tub via a hose pipe and the tub of the clothes was agitated using electric power. The operator then had to manually transfer the wet soapy clothes to the second tub, which rinsed out the soap residue and spun the clothes dry.
  • The spin cycle assisted in drying by forcing more water out of the washed items than would be possible by hand wringing or other methods, making them less saturated and lighter to carry, and significantly reducing drying time.
  • This machine was produced by the US company Syracuse Washing Machine Corporation, based in Syracuse, New York. The firm had its origins in a business called Dodge and Zuill, which manufactured clothes-washing devices from 1877 and, on the strength of selling electric washing machines from 1910 onwards, became the Syracuse Washer Corporation in 1917. In 1932 the company's name was changed to the Easy Washing Machine Corporation.
  • The machine was cleverly named to de-emphasise the work involved in washing. While the name 'Easy' reinforced the alluring, but not entirely truthful, promise from advertisers that electrical appliances would be labour saving, unlike modern washing machines this machine still required much manual handling of the washing.
  • This domestic machine would have been operated almost exclusively by women, as washing was regarded as 'women's work' during the 19th century and most of the 20th century. While these attitudes were challenged by the women's liberation movement of the 1970s, studies in the early 21st century have found that men still do not participate equally in household chores.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Studies of society and environment

Other details

Contributors
  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Description: Content provider
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.museum.vic.gov.au/
  • Name: Syracuse Washer Corporation
  • Organization: Syracuse Washer Corporation
  • Description: Author
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: Benjamin Healley
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum Victoria
  • Organization: Museum Victoria
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
Rights
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum Victoria, 2016, except where indicated under Acknowledgements