Out of the Museum

Lincoln Area Archives Museum has something for everyone
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Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. The museum will be closed for the winter holidays from Saturday to Jan. 2.

Free: Donations always accepted

This item is featured at the Lincoln Area Archives Museum at 640 5th St. What is this week’s mystery item?

Send your answer to

Answers will appear in next week’s newspaper.

Last week’s mystery item that docent Kathy Freeman was pictured holding in The Lincoln News Messenger (page A7) is a handheld agitator used for washing clothes.

Stephen Himes was the first to reply with the answer: “She’s holding a washing machine!  They are still used in some Amish communities.”

Tracy Sheller of Lincoln donated the agitator to the museum. 

Before washing machines and dryers were invented, cleaning clothes was great exercise. A scrub board for heavy stains, a wash tub, a rinsing tub and an agitator, also known as a hand plunger, were used. The process included washing, scrubbing and rinsing, wringing, rinsing, wringing, hanging the clothes on a clothesline to dry and then folding the clothes. 

“This was often a full day’s event,” said docent Shirley Russell. “The larger the family, the longer the wash time. It took strong arms and hands to wring the water out of the clothes after each procedure.”

When washing machines became a household item, all that physical labor previously required to get clean clothes was eliminated.

Visit the Lincoln Area Archives Museum between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays to see many more fascinating items. Docents are on hand to share information about the displays featuring Lincoln and surrounding areas.

- Carol Feineman