| This is a washboard, a tool that women rubbed clothes against in order to get them clean. This washboard measures 21-1/4" in length and 5-3/4" wide. It consists of a single 5/8" thick board into which parallel curved grooves were cut to form a slightly abrasive surface.
Housewives would get a tub full of water or choose a conveniently accessed spot along a river bank. She would place one end of the washboard into the water and with the other end resting against her breastbone, she would exert enough pressure against it to hold it steady. She might take a bar of soap, likely homemade lye, and rub it up and down over the board's grooved surface. Then she would grasp an article of clothing to be washed. Wetting the cloth, she would drag it up over the washboard and push it down, repeating the process over and over. Every now and then, she might take the bar of soap and rub it across the piece of clothing as it was draped over the surface of the washboard. Then she would again, with both hands, grasp the piece of clothing and drag it up and down over the grooved surface of the washboard. From time to time, the piece of cloth would be dipped on down into the water, then pulled back up to repeat the up and down scrubbing process over the grooved board. It was the manual method of forcing the dirt to loose its grasp on the fibers of the cloth that would, many years later, be mimicked by the agitated back and forth turning of the agitator in the electrical powered automatic washing machine.