The Newberry Library Seminar onTechnology, Politics, and Culture
Co-Sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Roosevelt University, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University's School of Communications
Friday, April 22, 2005
3:30pm-5:00pm, The Newberry Library
Conventions of Simultaneity:
Government-Sponsored Timepieces in the United States, 1870-1920
Alexis McCrossen, Southern Methodist University
This paper argues that the standardization of time set off an extensive program of public timepiece installation in the United States that fed what historian of science Peter Galison has identified as "conventions of simultaneity." In addition to office buildings, stores, and churches, lavish, large, expensive clocks often distinguished the City Halls, County Court Houses, and federal buildings going up across the nation during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. The account books of the E. Howard Clock and the Seth Thomas Clock Companies, who together held a duopoly over the production of public timepieces between 1870 and 1920, provide much of the data for the paper.
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