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Burroughs Machine for Vote Tabulation

Burroughs Machine for Vote Tabulation

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In 1932 Hans Jurgensen, who had been active in Democratic Party politics in Queens, New York, was appointed a tally clerk for the United States House of Representatives. He and his assistants kept records on how individual members voted on roll call votes for publication in The Congressional Record. They stamped the information by hand, making about 500,000 registrations per year. Jurgensen concluded that a machine could do the work more efficiently, and ordered this modified bookkeeping machine from the Burroughs Adding Machine Company of Detroit.
The machine has eight columns of metal bars that are painted black; each bar covers two key stems. Each column has seven bars labeled: “NVF” (not voting for), “NVA” (not voting against), “NV” (not voting), “AB” (absent), “PR”(present), “NAY”, and “YEA”. A column of keys is labeled the same way. At the top is a row of 17 red zeroing keys. Repeat and error keys are on the right and an operating bar right of them. At the back is a rubber platen and metal carriage. A motor and cord are under the machine.
The machine sits on a black metal stand that fits on a wooden dolly that is painted green and gold. Attached to the stand is a piece of black cloth with snaps. With the wooden kick stand up, it measures: 95 cm. w. x 74 cm. d. x 106 cm. h.
Marks on the back of paper feed, on the kick stand, and on front of machine read: Burroughs. A mark on the front reads: 1A136058.
“Hans Jurgensen, 51, Congressional Aide,” New York Times, June 29, 1945, p. 15. This obituary mentions Jurgensen’s work on the technology of vote tabulation.
“New time saving voting machine designed to [sic] U. S. Capitol Employee,” Harris & Ewing Collection, Library of Congress. The Library of Congress dates this photograph to 1938. (
Currently not on view
Object Name
bookkeeping machine
date made
Burroughs Adding Machine Company
place made
United States: Michigan, Detroit
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
felt (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 60 cm x 60 cm x 60 cm; 23 5/8 in x 23 5/8 in x 23 5/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Transfer from General Services Administration
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Science & Mathematics
Government, Politics, and Reform
Bookkeeping Machines
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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