Skip to content

Mechanization

 

Mechanization took butter-making out of the hands of women and put it into commercial creameries that employed men. Not all women protested the loss of personal income and prestige, however, because churning by hand one, two, or three times a week was hard work. Even so, changes in butter-making were neither even in pace nor uniform in application, and the old ways persisted here and there.

 
Main Street, Charlestown, Massachusetts, 1900 Photograph by the Boston Elevated Railway Company
Courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities

Though wrapped in parchment paper and packed in round boxes, butter made for sale in the city had often gone rancid by the time it arrived on the dinner table. Such butter often came from old or poorly cooled cream and, like these round boxes stacked in the unrefrigerated store window, received uneven or no cooling in transit. Some butter-makers added extra salt and sugar to mask the taste and forestall spoilage.

Butter-making at the H.P. Hood Creamery, Derry, New Hampshire, circa 1910
Courtesy of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities
Hired men worked the machinery that made it possible to produce butter in factory-like settings.

 
 

 

Mechanization