Photos from Janet Campbell John's post
Dedicated to preserving the history of Western Electric's Hawthorne Works facility. Open by appointment during the library's operating hours.
M-Th 8am-9pm, F 8am-6pm, Sat 9am-4pm, Sun 1pm-5pm. Call (708) 656-8000 x2320 or x2321.
Photos from Janet Campbell John's post
The gentlemen in this 1949 photo had something in common (besides a white shirt, necktie and receding hairline). Each had accumulated at least 45 years service with Western Electric when they posed for this group portrait on the staircase behind Hawthorne's TA (Telephone Assembly) buildings. That's a total of nearly half a millennium! Photo from WE Magazine.
Artifact of the Month: The Western Electric Model 302 telephones were introduced in 1937 and manufactured at the Hawthorne Works. The Henry Dreyfuss-designed deskset combined the ringer unit and speaker circuits within a single zinc alloy housing. Previous Western Electric telephones had required a separate ringer box.
World War II forced sharp reductions in the production of home telephones, but beginning in late 1945, the Hawthorne Works rushed to meet a backlog of two million orders. Western Electric acquired extra space in the former Studebaker plant on Archer Avenue, and by March 1946, assemblers had turned out one hundred thousand Model 302s.
In 1950, Western Electric rolled out a new model telephone and a new manufacturing plant. Henry Dreyfuss' famed Model 500 rolled off the assembly lines in Indianapolis for the next thirty-three years.
Photos show an example of the Model 302 in the Hawthorne Works Museum and a metal ringer box cover from the Western Electric News.
The Hawthorne Works Museum also pays tribute to other local industrial landmarks, including Hotpoint appliances and the Burlington Northern Railroad (now BNSF). A display in the Heritage Hall outside the museum holds artifacts from the famed Burlington Zephyr, the streamlined diesel locomotive that shattered speed records on its inaugural run from Denver to Chicago on May 26, 1934, completing the thousand mile trip in just over thirteen hours. The stainless steel four coach train went into regular passenger service from Nov. 1934 until its retirement in May 1960 when it was acquired by Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry where it can be viewed today in the MSI's entry hall. Additional photos show the Heritage Hall display at Morton College, including dining car equipment, freight rate schedules and guide books.
Memorial Day - We pay solemn tribute to those who sacrificed all their tomorrows to give us our todays. Thirty-one Hawthorne Works employees gave their lives in the First World War. Stanley T. Gay was a seven year employee at the Hawthorne Works when he joined the US Army in 1917. He died in France in January 1919. His remains were returned to his homeland the following November and reinterred with full military honors at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Hillside, IL. Photos show his reburial ceremony from Western Electric News, his gravestone, his newspaper obituary, and his draft registration.
Artifact of the Month: "Careful, you'll put your eye out!" Just like mom, Western Electric was always concerned about safety, and safety glasses like this pair on display in the Hawthorne Works Museum protected vulnerable eyes. Nearly every issue of The Microphone and Western Electric News featured a fortunate employee whose trusty specs saved him from permanent injury, like the example at right from 1928.
Joann Schlagheck of Chicago visited the Hawthorne Works Museum on May 13. Though not a member of the Hawthorne "family" herself, Joann is part of the extended Bell System family. Her father, Otto Walter, worked as an Illinois Bell Telephone installer from 1922 to 1962. Her mother Edna was a telephone operator in the 1920s. Joann worked at the Washington Street offices from 1952 to 1955, and her husband, sister and brother-in-law spent their entire careers with IBT.
To arrange a visit to the Hawthorne Works Museum, call the Morton College Library at (708) 656-8000, ext. 2321, or email [email protected]
It's Nurses' Week! Do something nice for your favorite nurse. The Hawthorne Works maintained its own hospital. The professional staff, which included a physician and up to half a dozen nurses, tended to the immediate needs of injured workers, but the on-site infirmary was much more than a First Aid station . The staff helped prevent illness and injury by administering free inoculations (photo), taking x-rays, conducting health screenings, and compiling health and safety statistics. Hawthorne's medical department assisted researchers conducting a long-range study begun in 1957 that for the first time linked a high cholesterol diet to heart disease.
In the early 20th century, as Western Electric laid the foundations of its employee benefits programs, another Chicago area business leader realized the powerful, positive influence his wealth could create. Julius Rosenwald of Sears, Roebuck & Co. invested over $60 million to build schools and fund social services for African-Americans and the nation's disenfranchised. Said Mr. Rosenwld, "Don't be fooled by believing that because a man is rich, that he is necessarily smart. There is ample proof to the contrary." Hmmm ..... Yes, we're looking at you, Mr. Orange Comb-over.
Julius Rosenwald: "Don't be fooled by believing that because a man is rich, that he is necessarily smart. There is ample proof to the contrary."
Learn about the philanthropist and the new documentary about him.
On March 10, the Hawthorne Works Museum was honored to welcome 92-year-old retiree Len Branecki and his family. Born and raised in Cicero, twelve of Len's fourteen siblings worked for Western Electric. Len started in 1941, joined the Army when the US entered the war and served with Gen. MacArthur in the Philippines. He returned to his tool and die making position at the Works. In 1949, he met and married Dolores, a co-worker. When WE opened a new plant in Omaha in the mid-1950s, Len was transferred and retired from there in the 1980s. He was in the Chicago area with his wife, daughter Sue and grandson. He also shared a 1950s photo of the Branecki siblings. Len is second from left in the light sweater. Enjoy the good life, Len. You earned it!
School groups of all ages visited the Hawthorne Works Museum in March and April. Marilyn Craig's Morton College Freshman English classes viewed the collection to gather ideas for a writing assignment. Lisa Mathelier's ESL students learned about earlier generations of immigrant workers, and Zoe McManmon's 3rd graders from Drexel Elementary discovered the wonders of switchboards, rotary dials and phone booths.
The HWM has already welcomed 485 visitors in 2016. Call (708) 656-8000, ext 2320 or 2321 to arrange a tour. See you at the Works!
Chobani Yogurt founder Hamdi Ulukaya provided his employees with an ownership stake in the company. Said a Chobani spokesman, "There's a very emotional bond and an emotional connection you don't typically associate with a manufacturing facility."
Maybe, just maybe, an old tried-and-true idea is coming back into fashion. It's called fairness, and Western Electric made a fortune on it for most of the 20th century.
Workers at the yogurt-maker got a potential windfall when the company said it would give them shares that could be worth up to 10 percent of the firm. It reflects a rising trend in employee ownership.
Artifact of the Month: A copy of the "General Health Course for Women of the Bell System" booklet, 1927. The attached self-analysis test asks vital questions of the ladies, such as, "Do you carry your head erect and chest forward?," and "Do you plan to banish fear by letting in the light of knowledge?" Women made up nearly half of the growing Hawthorne workforce in the 1920s. We may assume the graduates of the health course displayed grace and self-confidence while assembling intricate telephone components with their nimble fingers.
It's finally Spring, sort of. Here's a throwback to the "Spring Look" from 1954. That's the reigning "Hello Charley" Girl Carol Rampacek posing in the Works' courtyard for the cover of WE magazine. WE began publishing in 1949, seventeen years after the previous company magazine, Western Electric News, shut down during the Depression. WE put out quarterly issues all the way until the demise of the company in 1984. The Hawthorne Works Museum is fortunate to have a number of WE issues, many with articles about the Works. Wish we had more!
A trio of retired Western Electric engineers visited the museum on March 29. Bob Gillie, Ted Lach and Joe Pokorny (L to R in the photo on the right) shared their memories of life at the Hawthorne Works from the 1960s to 1980s. They still remember the technical details of the thin-film components they helped design and manufacture.
TIME magazine in 1952 covered the new management philosophy spreading through corporate America, inspired by the Hawthorne Studies. Some business leaders were beginning to catch on to the Human Relations formula. Said General Foods Chairman Clarence Francis, "You can buy a man's time, you can buy a man's physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn these things."
"If it were desired to reduce a man to nothing," wrote Fyodor Dostoevsky in The House of the Dead, ". . . it would be necessary only to give his work a character of...
The rise and fall of another cornerstone of Chicago area industry, the South Works.
Artifact of the Month - Mike Flaherty was kind enough to donate this item: the badge worn by his father, a security guard at the Hawthorne Works from 1942 to 1972. We had a hard time deciphering the letters on the badge, but with a little squinting we could make out the upper case W, E and C along with a tiny o to stand for "WE Co." Our thanks go to Mr. Flaherty for his thoughtful gift.
Hollywood has once again presented the Oscars, a reminder of the important technical contributions made to the motion picture industry by Western Electric engineers. In the top photo, Western Electric Assistant Chief Engineer Edward B. Craft watches a demonstration of the first air-to-ground radio communication system designed for use in World War I. The gentleman second from the right is Maj. Nathan Levinson, who after the war used his position as Western Electric's West Coast representative to convince Warner Brothers Studios to adopt the Vitaphone sound system, being demonstrated in 1927 by Mr. Craft in the bottom photo. Mr. Levinson, working at Warner Brothers, received sixteen nominations for his sound work during the 1930s and 1940s. He took home the statuette for "Yankee Doodle Dandy" in 1942, and was presented special awards for technical contributions in 1935, 1940 and 1947.
Artifact of the Month - "The Telephone in America," a 1950 Bell System publication in the Hawthorne Works Museum's collection, details just how much went into making the world's best public communication network. Thirty-three million phones, 130 million miles of wire, 132 million calls a day, 600,000 employees, and growing all the time. At the mid-century mark, the Bell System could boast that since 1920, "the average time to complete out-of-town calls has been reduced from 14 minutes to 1.5 minutes and the number of such calls put through while the caller remains at the telephone has increased from 10% to 95%."
"Pittsburgh of the South" closes steel mill. Another landmark industry, a centerpiece of its community, has ended a century-long run in Birmingham AL. "We had grandparents, great-grandparents, fathers, sons, daughters, wives that worked here in some capacity or another. At one time, there was no way you lived in the area and you did not know someone who worked at United States Steel." Sound familiar?
Steelworkers in Birmingham, Ala., are trying to figure out a new future now that U.S. Steel, one of the last major steel-making operations in the South, has closed.
Members of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Fox Valley Chapter toured the Hawthorne Works Museum on January 20. They also watched a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Works and engaged in a lively discussion of the technology, methods and lifestyle of the "Electrical Capital." The group included a number of former Western Electric and Lucent Technologies employees.
Groups or individuals interested in visiting the Hawthorne Works Museum are welcome Mondays, 12 noon to 2PM, or by appointment by calling (708) 656-8000, ext. 2320 or ext. 2321.
New Hours - Starting the week of January 25, the Hawthorne Works Museum will be open Mondays only, 12 noon to 2PM. However, visits may still be arranged by appointment by calling (708) 656-8000, ext 2321 or by emailing [email protected]
Artifact of the Month - Until the mid-1920s, the Hawthorne Works manufactured a variety of household appliances in addition to its vast output of telephone equipment. This 1908 electric iron was a dramatic improvement for housewives accustomed to heating a heavy flat iron atop their wood-burning stove to press their clothing. This item is on display in the Hawthorne Works Museum, which is open again for the new year, Mondays and Tuesdays 12 noon to 2 PM, or by appointment at other times. to arrange a visit, call the Morton College Library at (708) 656-8000 ext. 2320 or 2321.
"Joe took father's shoe bench out." Using this odd statement, Hawthorne inspectors voice-tested Model 300 handset phones,the last step in the assembly of the 248-piece device. The sentence contained all the most commonly used sounds in the English language. Demand for new telephones was rising again by 1938, the year of this photo, as the country shook off the worst effects of the Great Depression. Hawthorne employment grew to 15,000, after reaching a low of 7,000 in 1933.
It's a wonderful telephone! That's a Model 50 AL George Bailey is handling, another fine Western Electric Hawthorne Works product.
The Hawthorne Works Museum and the Morton College campus are closed until January 4, 2016. Thanks to all our supporters for a successful 2015. We welcomed 988 visitors and added a number of interesting objects to the collection. To arrange a visit in the new year, call us at (708) 656-8000, ext. 2320 or 2321. Remember, every time a telephone rings, an angel gets his wings! A Merry Christmas to all!
During World War II, Coca-Cola sponsored a six night a week remote broadcast called the Victory Parade of Spotlight Bands. Listeners from coast to coast were treated to the sounds of the most popular musicians playing live at military camps and defense plants around the country. On May 27, 1944, the show came to Chicago Stadium where Tommy Dorsey and his band played for an audience of 35,000 Hawthorne Works employees and their guests. Photos in the next issue of "The Microphone" captured the exciting evening, including the huge crowd that occupied the dance floor in shifts of 8,000, bandleader Tommy Dorsey on the trombone, and Chicago's own Gene Krupa behind the drums.
The images alone are a treasure, conjuring up that long-gone era, but now after a lengthy search, the Hawthorne Works Museum has managed to track down a partial sound recording of the event. Here's the link: http://tinyurl.com/ouplvmc
December 7 - We mark the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day. Over 2,000 US Navy and Army personnel lost their lives in the Japanese attack that dragged America into the Second World War. Photos from a 1916 issue of Western Electric News show the battleship USS Utah firing a broadside from its 14-inch guns during maneuvers, and a shipboard telephone from the USS Arizona. Western Electric manufactured and installed communications equipment aboard these two vessels, both of which were lost in the attack.
Artifact of the Month:
A new acquisition now on display at the Hawthorne Works Museum - a Model 20AL candlestick telephone made of brass and vulcanized rubber. This particular phone was manufactured at the Hawthorne Works between 1915 (the patent date stamped on the base) and 1919, when Western Electric introduced its rotary dial models.
The museum is open Mondays and Tuesdays, 12 noon to 2PM, or by appointment during library hours. Call (708) 656-8000, ext. 2320 or 2321 to arrange a tour.
3801 S Central Ave
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