Washboards, armchairs, lamps, and pots and pans may not seem to be museum pieces. But they are invaluable evidence of how most people lived day to day, last week or three centuries ago. The Museum's collections of domestic furnishings comprise more than 40,000 artifacts from American households. Large and small, they include four houses, roughly 800 pieces of furniture, fireplace equipment, spinning wheels, ceramics and glass, family portraits, and much more.
The Arthur and Edna Greenwood Collection contains more than 2,000 objects from New England households from colonial times to mid-1800s. From kitchens of the past, the collections hold some 3,300 artifacts, ranging from refrigerators to spatulas. The lighting devices alone number roughly 3,000 lamps, candleholders, and lanterns.
"Domestic Furnishings - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Radios, like this Eveready model 2, provided many families of the 1920s with a new form of home entertainment. Amateurs began making home radios to transmit and receive messages early in the 1900s. But using these radios called for engineering skills and a license. Early receivers, called "crystal detectors," while relatively easy to make, required some technical skill and were low in power.
- In 1916, David Sarnoff proposed that American Marconi Company sell broadcast transmitting equipment and "radio music boxes" that could receive the broadcast signals. After World War I, Sarnoff and his idea became part of the new Radio Corporation of America (RCA). A 1920 prototype radio designed by Alfred Goldsmith featured a few simple controls and needed no technical training to operate. RCA and other companies established AM (Amplitude Modulation) stations and began selling receivers. Stereo broadcasts were unknown, so radios needed only one speaker.
- Listeners were entranced by this new medium that delivered both local news and nationwide "network" programming. Since radios could operate on batteries, reception spread beyond cities. Unelectrified rural areas began tuning in, making farm life seem less isolated. Families began to gather around their radios in the evenings to hear music, sports, comedy, drama—and the commercials that paid for "free" programming. The voices of political leaders and entertainment celebrities reached millions of Americans.
- Elaborately styled cabinets, usually of wood, disguised technical components and allowed the radio to blend more easily with other home furnishings. This Eveready model is unusual. The cabinet is metal instead of wood, and can accept optional legs that permit the radio to be converted to a floor-standing model. Radio quickly became popular with Americans, so much so that statistics indicate only two electrical items sold well throughout the Great Depression: light bulbs and radios.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- early developer of radio receivers
- Goldsmith, Alfred
- National Carbon Company
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center