1900s | Communication Contraption

Pen register, c. 1900.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the storied history of Winnetka’s Fire Department from an article from the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of the Gazette


In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fires were a menacing threat to all Winnetka. The Winnetka Fire Department could respond more quickly to local emergencies using a device like this one. The J.H. Bunnell & Co. pen register, much like a tickertape recorder, used telegraph signals to relay urgent messages in case of a fire.

Communication Contraption, narrated by Joan Evanich

Gallery: Winnetka Fire Department

Herman Bucher's Uniform

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Heavy blue wool dress uniform coat and vest from Winnetka Fire Department. The buttons are inscribed with "FD" to signify the fire department . This coat belonged to Herman Bucher, who was a member of the Fire Department for 25 years before retiring in 1955.