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The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore

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History Books15 of 1781975-the new birmingham-old book from 1976.THE WORLDS COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION 1893
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    Posted 5 years ago

    (286 items)

    The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore is a new book telling the history of the young girls that worked in the clock & watch dial factories such as the Radium Luminous Materials Corporation, Luminite Corporation, United States Radium Corporation, Radium Dial Company, & others in the early 1900's. She tells how the girls were taught "lip pointing" using slim camel-hair brushes with narrow wooden handles. They would the brushes in their mouth to moisten the brush and "point" the bristles between their lower teeth and lips, dip it in the paint with a minuscule amount of radium and paint the numbers on the dials. This process was repeated several times while painting a dial. They were paid an average of 1.5 cents per dial. The average dial painter would take home an average of $20.00 per week, the fastest painters could double that.
    The sad part of this story is that they were not informed of the medical dangers of the poison in radium, and a vast number of them died a painful and horrible death.
    On page 55, it tells how the new girls started out painting the large (approximately 10 centimeters across) Westclox Big Ben clock dials. with a little experience on these, they would then moved on to the Baby Ben dials (about half the size), and eventually to the pocket watches: the Pocket Ben and the Scotty, which were about 3 centimeters wide.
    In the photo shown of the book, The Radium Girls, to the left is a Westclox Big Ben, at the right is a Westclox Baby Ben, the pocket watches, left front is
    is a Westclox Pocket Ben (named Glo-Ben), & on the right is a Westclox Scotty. I added in the center an Ingersoll Midget Radiolite to show the smaller pocket watch. All of these still glow in the dark.
    A sad story of how these mis-informed girls, (either unintentionally or intentionally) sacrificed their health and sometimes early lives, so someone could make a huge profit.
    Thanks for taking the time to read my long post, but some history of clock & watch manufacturing that needed to be told.


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    1. Signaholic Signaholic, 5 years ago
      Wow, sad but true history.
    2. Manikin Manikin, 5 years ago
      Wow that is a sad bit of history . I guess a person should really give much respect these clocks and pocket watches that young women died making . Interesting and I wonder if company knew at some point this was bad idea ?
    3. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Signaholic, yes very sad. here is a link to another post on Radium Girls I posted about 2 years ago:

      Thanks for the appreciation of this story & sad history.
    4. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      My grandson was in the drama dept. when this was performed a few years ago. At the time he was a behind the scenes worker, lighting, etc. Since then he has been in 5 plays as an actor with many characters played. Last was(this year) High School Musical as a jock with a singing part and in last scene walks of with the cranky girl who didn't get the male star ----so settled---and they were hugging.
      I didn't know the play was from a book. I wonder if Jake does? I wondered what was meant by "Radion Girls". Thanks for the post.
    5. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      Excuse mistake in spelling--my last sentence...RADIUM GIRLS not Radion Girls.
    6. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks Manikin for the appreciation.
    7. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      PostCardCollector, The girls that painted these dials would paint their lips, use as eye shadow, fingernails, and the paint dust (powder) before mixing, would get on their dresses, and at night (in the dark), they would glow while walking home. Hence, they were known as Radium (glowing) Girls.
      Thanks PostCardCollector for the appreciation.for the comments & appreciation.
    8. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      I suppose performed on the stage the girls were outfitted with clothes that glowed in those "black lights" and they could have had their lips glowing too. I didn't go to that play because Jake wasn't in a" part". Now I wish I had!
      !Thanks for telling me about it. I'll ask for details next time I see him. He was doing the lighting, maybe with others. What a sight it must have been.
    9. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thank you TassieDevil for the appreciation.
    10. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks for the appreciation:
    11. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks for the appreciation:
    12. modemjunkie, 5 years ago
      Manikin asked whether the employers knew that radium was deadly. This excellent book makes this clear, at some time the New Jersey plants did learn of dangers. But even more certain, by the time the Ottawa, Illinois plant was in operation there is no question but that the company knew.

      By the way, my father was the attorney who represented the Ottawa girls.
    13. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      modemjunkie, yes, no doubt many knew early on of the dangers, unfortunately, greed over-rides concern and respect for others.
      Did you happen to retain any of the notes your father used in the trials? If so, that would be an interesting read.
      Thanks for responding.
    14. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thank you bijoucaillouvintage for the appreciation.
    15. modemjunkie, 5 years ago
      I don't have his notes but I do have some of the briefs and a large collection of the newspaper stories about the case which I put on line.

      If there is a way to send you an attachment I can send a dramatic section of one of the briefs.
    16. modemjunkie, 5 years ago
      By the way, I listened to a long section of the British version of the Audio Book today. The one narrated by Kate Moore, not the one on Amazon. It was very moving.
    17. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thank you Mrstyndall for the appreciation.
    18. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      modemjunkie, Thank you very much for the link. Very interesting news articles, and I have bookmarked them in my reading list so I can read them again.
      If you click on pw-collector under my self portrait above, it will take you to my home page, then click on settings and you can see my email address where you can send an attachment. I would be very interested in it.
      Again, thank you very much & I hope others who visit here will click on to your web page.
    19. TulsaOk TulsaOk, 5 years ago
      I watched a video where a man holds a geiger counter to the face of a Westclox alarm. They also mention the gravesites are detectible emiting radiation. ("Documentary of Radium City !!" at 18:45 point on youtube)
    20. modemjunkie, 5 years ago
      So, I followed your instructions, PWCollector but I don't see your address. If you go to my Radium home page and scroll to the bottom you will see my name. Click on that to open an email to me and send me a note. Please put "Radium" in the subject line.
    21. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Modemjunkie, I already emailed you and received a great brief that was a very interesting read. Thank you very much.
    22. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks TulsaOk for the youtube link and the appreciation.
    23. modemjunkie, 5 years ago
      pw-collector. I didn't realize that was you.
    24. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thank you AnythingObscure for the appreciation.
    25. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks jscott0363 for the appreciation.
    26. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks Vintagefran for the appreciation.
    27. pw-collector pw-collector, 5 years ago
      Thanks bobbee for the appreciation.
    28. betweenthelens betweenthelens, 4 years ago
      The drama troupe at my son's high school performed the play based on this story last year. They did a wonderful job.
    29. pw-collector pw-collector, 4 years ago
      That would be a play I would like to see.
      Thanks betweenthelens for the appreciation.

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