Through the eyes of Margaret Marlow, Mansfield Tire & Rubber

For Women’s History Month, the Sherman Room has been featuring interviews that Nita Branson conducted in the 1920s with career women of her day (interested? since up for the email list here!)

Today’s interview was with Margaret Marlow, who was a secretary at the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. She seems to have made the most of a life that presented its fair share of challenges and tragedies.

Margaret Marlow was born in 1896 to William and Anna Barlow. She would be the the third of eight children in the family, and she was only 16 when her father died after being thrown from a horse. That same year, she enrolled in the Mansfield-Ohio Business College. The business college education prepared her for her position with Mansfield Tire. It is not particularly clear when Marlow was hired at Mansfield Tire and Rubber, but in the 1920 census she was listed as being a “stenographer” for the “rubber works,” so likely sometime between 1917 and 1920. The same census indicates that after her father’s death, Margaret lived with her mother and her two younger brothers. Her mother did not report having a job on the census, but her 21-year-old brother William was listed as a “winder” in the electric industry and her nineteen-year-old brother was listed as a “helper” at a steel mill.

Office workers of the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. Names not provided. Photographs-Mansfield Tire & Rubber. Sherman Room Collection.

In her position at Mansfield Tire, Margaret was the secretary or stenographer for George Stephens, who was the general manager. He would later go on to become the chairman of the board for the company. The interview makes it clear that Margaret applied the same approach to her work as to her personal life: taking the opportunities as they appeared. She enjoyed substituting in for other departments, as it permitted her to get to know the operations of the company better–likely an important base of knowledge for the woman who answered correspondence for the general manager of the company, in a time when letters and telegrams were generally the primary mode of business communication.

Mansfield Tire & Rubber General Manager George Stephens, Photographs-Mansfield Tire & Rubber. Sherman Room Collection.

It was not very long after the interview with Branson that Marlow left Mansfield Tire for different to pursue a different adventure. Marlow married Russell Duncan in 1923, and shortly thereafter moved to Toledo where they started a family, with a son named Jack born around 1924. According to the 1930 census, she did not continue her career after her marriage and the birth of her son. Sadly, like her father, Margaret died unexpectedly and young, in 1930 at about 34 years of age.

Mansfield Tire & Rubber’s Next Generation

Of course, Margaret Marlow was hardly the only woman who was employed by Mansfield Tire & Rubber– she was just the only one that Nita Branson interviewed for this particular series. Many years later, in 1945, Mansfield Tire & Rubber was putting out a call for new employees by featuring their supervisors in the Mansfield News-Journal. The page had photos of all the supervisors, with small blurbs about their careers at Mansfield Tire. Three of the supervisors featured in the list at that time were women:

  • Mrs. Cleo Shoup, who had worked for the company for 10 years, had been the supervisor of the salvage department for almost a year.
  • Miss Mabel Adams, with the company for 11 years, had been the supervisor of the repair department for a year and a half.
  • Mrs. Eva Schultz, with the company for 14 years, had been the supervisor of the tube department for a year and half.

So we see that Mansfield Tire & Rubber, a company that participated in many decades of Mansfield’s manufacturing history, had a number of female employees over the years, with job descriptions ranging from the secretary of the General Manager to supervisors of essential departments, and whose tenures with the company lasted decades. Some couples, like Mrs. Cleo Shoup and her husband Floyd, both worked for the Mansfield Tire & Rubber Company. For some women, the company was a stop on a different journey, as with Margaret Marlow, but for others like Mrs. Eva Schultz, it was an integral part of their lives before, during, and after marriage and family commitments.

Throughout the month, we will continue to see women who worked in the businesses that Mansfield is known for. Sign up for the email list here to learn more about the women who lived Mansfield history!

Take a Peek Around Mansfield Tire and Rubber

The Sherman Room has an album of photographs of Mansfield Tire & Rubber taken in the early 1920s, the same time period that Margaret Marlow was working as the secretary for George Stephens, the general manager (who would later go on to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors). So take a look through the photos and see Mansfield Tire & Rubber as it would have appeared to Margaret.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s