“You never know what you might find at the Westclox Museum!” It seems I’ve been saying that a lot lately, because it’s true. Every day is a new experience – new visitors, new donations and especially new stories. Yes, I’ve read and reviewed the history of Westclox as compiled by the company, and both of my parents and innumerable relatives worked here (I did not.). My husband and co-curator worked here for 17 years, until the plant closed, and his job in the machine and tool design department took him to virtually every department in the factory, but it seems that every day we learn something new that we didn’t know before. I’d like to share some of those stories through the Curator’s Corner and hopefully entice more of you to visit the museum and perhaps even become a volunteer.
Not all of you are aware of the museum’s Tick Talk project. Tick Talk was the employee magazine, composed, edited, printed and distributed to employees within the plant. (Some editions were also specifically designed for the sales and marketing personnel to share with their customers.) These little 5 ½ by 6 ½ inch magazines were published monthly (in the very early years, twice a month) from just before World War I through the late 1960s. They were the way employees kept up with the latest in-house news and gossip tidbits. These magazines contributed greatly to the feeling of being part of one big family – a sentiment we hear over and over from former employees.
Thanks to the temporary loan of a large personal collection of Tick Talk magazines, we have undertaken creating a searchable database of more than 50 years worth of these little treasures. When completed, we will be able to enter a name into the search window and instantly bring up all of the places that person has ever been mentioned in a Tick Talk! These digital images will be able to be viewed on a large screen, and if desired, copies can be printed. This will be a great tool for people researching family history. Many of our visitors were not even born when Westclox closed in 1980, but they have heard that their ancestors once worked here.
We have completed scanning 32 years worth of the collection, and have recently converted the years 1952 – 1967 into the database. I am pleased to report that it is working as planned and being extremely well received. Michael is now working on converting 1913 – 1930. We still have 20 years worth left to scan – 1931 – 1951. Our goal is to have the project completed and up and running before the end of 2015. The database will not be available for online searches at this time, but we hope to see many more visitors come in to try it out and to see the numerous artifacts, photos and research materials we have been collecting, compiling and displaying. We are not just a museum full of clocks! We are trying to tell the stories of the people who made Westclox the world-renowned manufacturer it was for nearly a century! Remember – The Westclox Museum is a FREE museum. We are staffed only by volunteers, and virtually every artifact in the museum has been donated and/or loaned to us.We hope to see you soon!