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Eastern Talking Machine: 1917

January 24, 1917. "Malvina Amundsen, 15. Office girl in Eastern Talking Machine Co., 177 Tremont Street, Boston." Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.

January 24, 1917. "Malvina Amundsen, 15. Office girl in Eastern Talking Machine Co., 177 Tremont Street, Boston." Photo by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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This modern age

I think I recognise the huge book as being an old double entry accounting book. The pages could be eighteen inches wide. My brother and I played Battleship with several old ones my father picked up at auction. I can imagine her Sunday conversations with her friends, 'Annabelle, Honestly, I work for a company that makes machines that can talk like humans, Good Lord, whatever could be next?

The Phonograph

The phonograph, a Victrola Model VV-XVIII, was Victor's top-of-the-line offering for 1915-1916. Obviously, Eastern Talking Machine was a Victor dealer.

Named After Granny?

In the 1900 census, there is an Amundson family living in Boston. Along with the father, Oscar, his wife and children is his mother, Malina Amundson. Two years later, I suspect a baby girl was born and named after her grandmother


I could not find a record on this lovely young lady.

I searched her original name, nothing. Thinking the first name may be Madeline, I searched again. I found two hits, but birth dates doesn't seem to match up. One was born in late 1903, and SSN was issued in NY.

There are 847 Amundsens in the SSDI. Not a common name, dead or living.

[You'd probably need to know her married name to find her in the SSDI. As for the first name, another spelling might be Malvinia. - Dave]

The open book

I'm curious as to what such a wide book would be used for?

[It's a ledger. - Dave]

Empty drawer

Being upside-down would indicate at a glance that the drawer was empty, and therefore available for more of those cards. Or maybe it's broken (bottomless, perhaps, or no spacing mechanism) and therefore unusable.

Drawer Inversion

Third drawer from the left, second row appears to be in upside down -- what would be the reason for that?


Losing a bit of anonymity, that's my last name. At least over here in the New World, we Amundsens are a bit thin on the ground. I wonder if she just might be family.

Victor Promotional Photo

Opera singer Enrico Caruso is recognizable on the far right in the framed photo above Miss Amundsen, grouped with other Victor opera recording stars listening to one of their recordings. The photo was one of a series used in magazine ads to promote the quality of Victor disk recordings during their competition with Edison cylinder records for market share. (The sound quality of Edison opera cylinders was actually superior, but the longer recording times and storage convenience of disk records won out in the end.) Another of these photos, as used in a print ad, depicts Caruso and Antonio Scotti listening to their duet from "La Forza del Destino."

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