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What is the history and manufacturing process of brooms?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted May 9, 2014 at 9:34 PM via web

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What is the history and manufacturing process of brooms?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 21, 2014 at 6:30 PM (Answer #1)

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That brooms have been around since ancient times is evinced in a passage from New Testament in which a woman, having lost a piece of silver in her house, sweeps all around as she searches for it. Certainly, brooms have not always appeared as they do now. Roughly fashioned from straw or twigs or whatever materials were at hand, the broom was constructed by tying twine or rope around these materials which covered a wooden stick.

Broom-making as a trade was not begun until the days of Anglo-Saxon England in the southeastern region where "besom squires" fashioned brooms from twigs of birch trees that were then tied to chestnut wood. In fact, this method is still used today as a heritage craft. But, the rise in interest of growing a crop of tasseled grace scientifically called sorghum vulgare, brought about the creation of the modern broom. This grass had heretofore just been used as animal feed, but one farmer in Massachusetts fashioned a broom using this crop for his wife and it was more effective as well as durable. In 1797 Gregory H. Nobles peddled some extra brooms to his neighbors and soon found himself in business. Other farmers soon joined this trade, and in 1906 a machine was constructed which would hold the twine taunt while the broom maker fashioned the broom.

It was not until a Christian sect called Shakers began making brooms that the flat bottom of the modern broom came into being. They found that instead of making a round broom, they could secure the broomcorn with wire and flatten it with a vice while they sewed it tight and cut the bottom. This method resulted in a superior cleaning tool as a straight bottom allowed more efficient sweeping of larger areas. The Shakers also designed the whisk broom for cleaning smaller areas. These designs, then, are almost the same as those of modern brooms.

The broom-making industry moved from the Northeastern United States to the Western states when it was discovered that the broom grass grew well in places such as Colorado. By the turn of the twentieth century, broom shops turned into factories except for a few small industries such as the Industries for the Blind where brooms are made by the visually impaired. Also, the Lions' Club is an organization that has traditionally sold brooms made by small concerns such as the afore-mentioned. After 1994, NAFTA sent broom-making to Mexico, so most of the corn brooms come from this country.

Synthetic brooms were introduced in the 1950's and 1960's by DuPont and other companies. These brooms are composed of filaments and softer plastic bristles which are often used on hardwood floors. Of course, there are many varieties and sizes nowadays as people use brooms to sweep out garages and sweep large cement floors in shops and factories.

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