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Posts Tagged musical instruments

THF159776Confederate Bass Drum, Captured at Missionary Ridge, 1860-1863. Gift of the Jewell Family. THF159778

A Battlefield Souvenir Preserved by GAR Members of Fulton County, Ohio

This drum was likely left behind by fleeing Confederates as Union soldiers drove them from the hill at the battle of Missionary Ridge in Tennessee on November 25, 1863. The astonished Confederates panicked, broke rank, and fled pell-mell. A Union victory. In less than a year and half, the Civil War would end and the Union preserved.

The abandoned drum was probably picked up from the battlefield by a member of the 38th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a Union unit that participated in the Missionary Ridge assault.


This battlefield souvenir was then taken to Fulton County, Ohio, where it was preserved by members of the local Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), an organization of Union veterans. By the 1880s, Fulton County had about 11 GAR posts. To these Union veterans, this drum symbolized victory over Confederate forces. The drum was likely displayed in the GAR hall at Wauseon in Fulton County.

A few days before the Missionary Ridge battle, Abraham Lincoln gave his eloquent Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania. For us today, this drum symbolizes the end of the Civil War and the “new birth of freedom” spoken of so memorably by Abraham Lincoln on that day.

Jeanine Head Miller is Curator of Domestic Life at The Henry Ford.

drums, musical instruments, Civil War Remembrance

When the typewriter is a player piano.


By the beginning of the twentieth century, modern office culture was taking off and work was speeding up. To stay competitive, businesses needed to pick up the pace.


Office equipment manufacturers developed machines to allow clerical work to go faster. Automatic typewriters, just like player pianos, used punched rolls of paper — in this case, to speed up clerical work by producing multiple form letters at once.

Henry Ford and Edsel Ford at a player piano during a camping trip, July 1921. (From the collections of The Henry Ford)

Automatic typewriters generally worked as follows:  A letter was written on one typewriter, the perforator, which encoded the letter onto a punched paper roll. The punch roll was fed into a reader typewriter, which reproduced the original. An operator would be standing by to fill in specific information (such as name and date) and to remove finished letters.


This Auto-Typist pneumatic automatic typewriter was manufactured by a Chicago player piano company in the1930s and used a player piano pneumatic mechanism to make offices more efficient.


Each key of the specially-prepared Underwood typewriter is hooked up to a small bellows. The encoded paper roll is fed into the Auto-Typist, and each punch on the paper roll directs specific bellows to move. The Auto-Typist allowed small business owners, like the Chicago doctor who probably used this machine, to quickly produce personalized form letters.


Auto-Typists continued to be manufactured even after World War II and into the era of business computing. In the 1960s, an insurance company automated their policy-writing department with Auto-Typists hooked up to IBM electrics.


Suzanne Fischer is the Associate Curator of Technology at The Henry Ford.

instruments, music, musical instruments, pianos