For Women’s History Month 2023, the Sherman Room featured a weekly column from the 1920s in an email list. We wanted to make sure that everyone was able to access the articles, so we gathered them together for you here! Click on any title to view the scan of the article with a transcription for easy reading.
Women’s History Month is coming to an end, but we still have some interesting history to share with you! Today’s “Little Chats” interview was with Sarah Alice Sloane, who worked for the Ohio Brass Foreign Trade (essentially, international sales) department. It may be useful to read the interview (included below) before reading this post.
Although she wasn’t born in Mansfield, Sarah Alice Sloane was a dedicated Mansfield woman, and participated in and made her mark in Mansfield’s community in many ways.
As with many of our “Little Chats” interviewees, she was an Ohioan, born and raised. She was born in Ashland County to Harrison A. and Anna Maria (Clark) Sloane on 28 April 1879. Harrison was born in Ashland County, but Anna had been raised in Mansfield, and they were married in Richland County 18 March 1875. Their first child, Benjamin Howard, was born about a year later. In total, they would have seven children: Ben Howard, Mary Ethel, Sarah Alice, Rollin Clark, Clarence (who died shortly after his birth), Florence Lyle, and John Beaird.
In the 1880 census, when Sarah was just about a year old and the youngest child at the time, the family was living in Mohican, Ashland, and occupied a farm. In addition to the five Sloanes, there were also two “domestics” and a boarder living in the household.
By 1900, the family had moved to Mansfield, although Harrison was still listed as a farmer. Ben was no longer in the household, having married and moved to Lorain, and Rollin had similarly moved on. Younger siblings Florence and John were still at school, but Mary and Sarah had begun pursuing their own careers: Mary as a milliner (women’s hat-making and/or selling), and Sarah as a stenographer at Ohio Brass, a position she held at a minimum beginning in 1899, based on a Mansfield City directory entry from that year.
Sometime around 1904, Harrison packed up the rest of the family (Anna, Florence, and John) and moved to Youngstown to pursue a work opportunity there. Sarah remained in Mansfield to continue her work at Ohio Brass. Unfortunately, in 1907, Harrison became sick with typhoid fever, and he died.
The family returned to Mansfield, and in 1908, Anna, Florence, John, and Sarah were all living together there, and John was also working at Ohio Brass (precisely what department or position he held was not listed). About seven years after Harrison died, Anna also passed away, in 1914, and sometime shortly after that John left Mansfield to pursue his career, leaving Florence and Sarah together in Mansfield. They shared a home for a number of years as Sarah pursued her career at Ohio Brass.
As previously established, Sarah Alice Sloane began work at Ohio Brass in or before 1899, when she would have been twenty years old, and she began work as a stenographer. Based on her interview with Nita Branson, it does not seem that she had much formal education beyond high school, although she may have taken stenography classes in high school or at the local business college. Regardless, she progressed through the ranks of the department, from stenographer to sales order clerk, from sales order clerk to assistant department head, and eventually she was the head of the sales order department for foreign sales. She retired from the company in 1947, with almost 50 years of experience there, and having worked at the company through both World Wars. In her retirement she continued to be close with her family. Her brother, John, had settled in Arizona, and she would go out to visit with him and his family, and those and other family members would come to Mansfield to visit with her as well.
A Peek at the Ohio Brass Cafeteria
Making her Mark in the Community: Women’s Voting, and the Friendly House
In addition to her career, Sarah was active in the community, certainly by the 1920s if not much earlier. In the fall of 1921, just a year after the 19th amendment was passed allowing women to vote across the United States, Sarah was the president of a Republican Women Voters club, which met weekly in the lead-up to the election to hear from the candidates. The group organized a women’s voting registration drive to encourage all the women in Mansfield to register and vote in the election, exercising their rights under the law. Notably, this was the first local election in which women were permitted to vote– 1920 was the first presidential election, but there was not a local election in that year.
Later in her life and career, we again see Sarah’s leadership and involvement in the community. It seems highly likely she was more involved in the community than we have a good record of, because by 1937 she had been elected the vice president of the Board of Directors of the Friendly House, a position to which she was re-elected, and in which she occasionally served as acting president.
The Ohio Brass Girls
Sarah’s particular story is interesting for a number of reasons, but she was far from the only woman who worked for the Ohio Brass Company. And while her position was still relatively office-based, many women who worked for Ohio Brass worked in the factory itself. In particular, it seems that in the Malleables division, the Core Department was a particular home for female employees, as shown by a dedicated issue of the O.B. Observer in 1929.
As with many companies of the time, Ohio Brass strove to provide good facilities and social opportunities for its employees, as evidenced by their new cafeteria as shown above and by their participation in industrial league sports. The industrial leagues were not just men’s teams–there were women’s teams as well, when there was interest in them. Ohio Brass’s women’s bowling teams were especially successful in 1929, winning the championship, and the same year the company was working to start up a women’s “kittenball” (an early name for softball) team as well.
By the mid-1920s there were enough women working for Ohio Brass, across the entire company and not just in the office positions, that Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kelley King (the president of the company) began hosting an annual party for the female employees of the company to thank them for their important contributions to the company. The first such party was hosted in 1924, and about 40 women attended, including Sarah herself, who had been working for Ohio Brass for approximately 25 years at this point. These were just women who worked at the factory themselves–not wives of male employees.
Ohio Brass “Girls” at Kingwood
The parties continued to be an annual tradition, and grew over time. Even in 1925, at just the second party, there were reportedly over a hundred women present–which suggests that the first party probably was not attended by all the female employees at the company. In 1929, over 125 women were in attendance at the annual Kingwood party.
Our Women’s History Month exploration continues! Today’s “Little Chats” interview was with Goldie Boals, and our blog today dives a little deeper into her life. It may be beneficial to read the interview below before reading this post.
Just as Nita Branson was part of the changeover from the Mansfield Shield and Banner to the Mansfield News, and then from the Mansfield News to the Mansfield News-Journal, today we hear from a local woman who was part of a dramatic change in a local business: when the Eclipse Stove Company, already nationally recognized, changed the entire company name to Tappan Stove Company. And whereas Branson was still very new to the company and the field when the News bought the Shield and Banner, Boals was deep in the heart of the changeover, as the assistant advertising manager during the brand’s transition period.
Local Girl, Goldie
Goldie Boals was a Mansfield girl, through and through, for her whole life. She was born in Mansfield on 27 September 1898 to parents Arthur Boals and Sabina (Roe) Boals, and she had one older brother by the name of Albert. In 1908, when Goldie was about 12, her mother Sabina died, and by 1910, Albert had left home, so for much of her teenage years it was just Goldie and her father. She graduated from Mansfield Senior High School in 1916.
Her senior profile listed her aspiration as “to get an education” and her tendency as “burning midnight oil,” and in the section devoted to “Rechristening Seniors” she was renamed “Generally Bashful.” Her bashfulness (or “unassuming manner,” as Branson called it in the interview) did not seem to stop her from pursuing her career, however, since she started working the same year she graduated from high school.
Eclipse Stove Company: “More than a Place to Work”
As early as 1916, Goldie is listed in the Mansfield directory as working as a stenographer at the Eclipse Stove Company. As the “Little Chats” interview indicates, she probably worked as a stenographer for about three years, then took a position with the advertising department in about 1919 as a clerk, quickly advancing to Assistant Advertising Manager.
The Eclipse Stove Company had been founded in 1881 in Bellaire Ohio as the Ohio Valley Stove Works, but moved to Mansfield in 1889. By 1919, the plant in Mansfield had 225 employees, whom the company appeared to be very interested in retaining. To pursue this goal, the company had a department devoted to employee welfare, headed by Floyd Dent. The department arranged facilities for employees including “a gymnasium, a dance hall, a card room, [and a] baseball diamond,” also arranging sports teams outside of business hours in the appropriate seasons. Employees also had access to athletics programs during their half-hour lunch break, in addition to the cafeteria “where a substantial meal can be bought for from 20 to 30 cents” [Mansfield News, 15 June 1919, page 19].
“Tappan” Eclipses “Eclipse”
But in 1922, the company decided to change its name to the Tappan Stove Company, in part “to eliminate all possibility of confusion, or some other company receiving the benefit of the advertising of the old company” [Mansfield News, 22 Jan 1922, page 3]. Having already spent more than thirty years establishing a reputation for the quality of their products under the name “Eclipse,” this represented a risk and a massive effort in the rebranding.
And Boals was right in the thick of it. Her chat with Branson mentions the change in the factory’s name, and that they had to change all of the name plates in all of the advertising and catalogues because of the change, in addition to providing new nameplates and materials for dealers who sold their products. In Mansfield and neighboring cities alone, there were more than a dozen dealers who needed new nameplates and advertising materials, likely the companies that Boals primarily worked with. The national advertising, promoted by Tappan’s recent stamp of approval by the Good Housekeeping Institute and the New York Tribune, was handled by a dedicated advertising agency, but the local dealers received advertising materials, especially for newspapers, directly from the advertising department at Tappan itself.
Goldie Boals also decided to have a name change, but in her case it was a labor of love rather than business interest. She married George Loesch on 8 June 1924. They had a son, George W. Loesch, on 30 August 1928. At some point after she married George, she did stop working at Tappan in favor of being at home with her son.
The 1950 census shows that after her son moved out, Goldie decided to go back to work part-time, this time for another of Mansfield’s most recognizable businesses: Westinghouse. She was working for the R. R. Hayes Cafeteria, but doing clerical work, hearkening back to her days as a stenographer at the then-Eclipse Stove Company.
Her father, Arthur, lived with Goldie and George in his elder years, and he died on 13 September 1952. Goldie herself died about five years later, in 1958, after an unspecified illness.
The following advertisements appeared in the Mansfield News from 1922 to 1924, the time period when Boals was the assistant advertising manager for the company, so although she may or may not have written the ads personally, they showcase the work of her department around the time she was there and after the name changed to “Tappan Stove Company.”
Sources (Advertisements throughout)
Mansfield News, 26 February 1922, Page 8B.
Mansfield News, 30 April 1922, Page 11.
Mansfield News, 15 April 1923, 2nd edition Page 4.
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.
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.
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.