Monday, July 26, 2021

The Innocent Hair Diary: Surname Change, Scalp Treatment Patents, & Scandals

Elsie Perry, KCK Hair Diary

Another Rabbit Hole

It seemed harmless - the 4 page diary with specific instructions of "Frederick Scalp Treatment." But that was the beginning of the Rabbit Hole. My intentions were to write a short post sharing this diary -  a 20-30minute blog post and call it quits. But, the a3Genealogy Code of Research - 3 Question Rule -  is ingrained  


What is the a3Genealogy Code of Research?

Simply, every document should provide the researcher with 3 questions - What is the document telling you?

For starters: 

  1. From whence did  Elsie Perry, Kansas City, Kansas, get this steam treatment instruction?
  2. Who was Frederick?
  3. Why did Frederick have a steam machine and what was the Frederick Vita?

Follow Me Down the Genealogical Rabbit Hole

Surname Change

So, as mentioned, it started out with "Look at Mrs. Perry’s Diary." But the seemingly endless road led me to all the rave of late 1920’s to 1930’s, information on the steam machine inventor, Ernest O. Frederics, from Kalthof-Iserlohn Germany, whose original surname was Speikerman. And yes, his name was Frederics, not Frederick.

1924 U.S. Passport, 423367, NY Supreme Court


Ernest Otto Frederics, born 25 Jul 1884, married Gertrude Hathaway, 14 Aug 1917 in Manhattan, NewYork. (1)  He was naturalized 7 Jan 1921.(2)

He was known worldwide for his "perfected" hair perm machine, hair products, and hair processing techniques.

The Scandal

This power couple had a rather public divorce. Ernest later remarried. But, what's a family story without scandal? 

The wrongful institutionalization of wife Gertrude in a well planned scheme to access her trust fund and dethrone her from E. Frederic Inc. by her ex husband and brother was covered by news outlets across the nation. Read article above "Ducks Asylum, Asks Who's Looney Now."  This scandal ended in a state Supreme Court intervention and involved detainment in California to hiding in New York.

The Perm Machine

This is a rare vintage 1930's Professional Ladies Hair Salon Perm machine. Frederics "Vita-Tonic- Waves," Hair Scalp Treatment Vaporizer, Mfg: E. Frederic's Inc. was one of 29 patents.

Image Source 

The Patents
With 29 patents there's much to learn through applications about Ernest Frederics.  

Image: Google Patents US1940451

Patent A45D2/34

African American Hair Too?

Next set of questions? I’m just starting with the basics here, but did this permanent treatment work on all hair types i.e.:“African American hair?” Why do I ask, you wonder. Because the diary was that of Elsie Perry, a black widow of a railroad man, Ernest Perry, of Kansas City, KS. And, we all know that textures of hair vary. I have not yet found any ads in the African American newspapers, but will research the KC Call newspaper and others later. Was the steam machine affordable? Where did one buy the products?


Now I know, even in the 60’s permanents were burning and destroying hair shafts and strands, so what was going on with the finger waves of the 1920’s pushed by Frederics?


For the Genealogists

There's always more to our ancestor’s story, so don’t forget the “history:"

Births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations, and passport dates are great timelines.  But the story was fleshed out through newspapers, court records, patent records, surname changes and Elsie Perry's diary pages.

(1) New York, New York, Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937, Marriage 1917 ; (image in author's files).

(2) New York County Supreme Court Naturalization Petition Index, 1907 - 1924; (image in author's files).

Note: Author was able to locate the family of Mrs. Perry and all original artifacts, photos and letters have been returned to the family. 

Kathleen Brandt

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Notations on Veteran's Military Medical History

a3Genealogy Question Bag 


I just saw a vision of 6/6 for my ancestor, WWI.  What does that mean?


Thanks for asking and submitting an image of what has been identified as a WWI UK Medical History document of your ancestor.  

In the USA, we all know that 20/20 vision without eyewear, suggests you have normal visual acuity measured at 20 feet. Yes, some say "perfect vision, but that is not what 20/20 vision is". Your visual acuity is the clarity or sharpness of your vision; not perfect vision. But I digress. Perhaps I'm a bit jealous having had to wear glasses since the age of 11.

Your question asked "What is 6/6 vision, as noted on [a] military record?"

The only difference between a note of 20/20 vision and 6/6 vision is the standard used for a particular location. In the UK 6/6 vision describes being able to see at 6 metres what an average person can see at 6 metres. Oh...that word would be spelled "meters" in the USA.

Comparatively, if you have 6/12 vision, what you see at 6 metres away, an average person can see from 12 metres away. Therefore you have below average vision. 

But that still leaves us with the question of why are there two systems? 

Metric System in America
Many erroneously tie the metric system to President Carter, but it was actually put into motion by President Nixon and, the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 was under President Ford. President Carter did not become a political-metric-system-player until his term that began in 1977.

Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon PA, 9 Sep 1971, (nationwide publicity)

Since the metric system did not take in America, we measure vision in feet. So as expected, the notation of 20/20 vision suggests one is capable of seeing at 20 feet what an average person can see at 20 feet.

Keep reading the details on these documents Dottie! And thanks again for the question. 

Be Historically Correct

Kathleen Brandt