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Log Cabin Living: Rug Beater

Artifacts from 19th Century Life

Written by Madeline Teddy, Museum Intern

Edited for publication by Holly Stewart, Program Manager

The Log Cabin Living: Artifacts from 19th Century Life exhibit at Job Carr Cabin Museum encourages visitors to take a closer look at more than 20 objects in the museum's collection.

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A braided rug in front of the hearth at Job Carr Cabin Museum.

During the 1800s, women dedicated much of their time to physically demanding labor, including cleaning rugs. By the 1840s, rugs, and carpets became affordable enough for many families to own. In households where wood and coal were used for heating, rugs faced the usual dirt, ash, and smoke stains from wood and coal-burning stoves.

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The rattan rug beater in the collection of Job Carr Cabin Museum.

Typically made of wood, rattan, cane, wicker, spring steel, or coiled wire, rug beaters were the tools employed for cleaning rugs. The person cleaning the carpet would take it outside, hang it over washing lines or railings, and beat it until most of the dust, dirt, and ash had fallen out. The flexibility of the beater depended on the number of switches; beaters with two switches are more flexible than those with four. The rug beater in the Job Carr Cabin Museum has two switches.

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A rattan rug beater hangs next to a horsehide blanket on the wall of Job Carr Cabin Museum.

Rug beaters made of rattan, like the one in the cabin, often featured a series of loops, while others used a lattice pattern. Wire rug beaters could be shaped into teardrops, hearts, or shapes similar to rattan beaters. Some people, however, opted for simple wooden boards or paddles to remove ash and dust rather than using a rug beater.

Take a closer look at the museum's rug beater in this short video:


“Carpet Beater.” National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

“Rug Beater.” Benton County Museums, Benton County Historical Society, 24 Dec. 2022,,many%20families%20could%20afford%20them.

About the Author

Madeline Teddy completed an internship with Job Carr Cabin Museum in Fall 2023. She was a graduate of University of British Columbia majoring in history and classical Near Eastern religious studies. She hoped to take her studies further and become a museum curator.