A brief history of the flat broom –
In 1797, Levi Dickenson, a farmer from Hadley, Massachusetts, made a round broom from sorghum grass; local farmers spread the word and the demand grew. In 1810, Dickenson invents the foot-treadle broom machine.
Long respected for their productive farms and handicrafts, the Shakers brought about many inventions – to name a few: the rotary harrow, the circular saw, the clothespin, the Shaker peg, the wheel-driven washing machine, a machine for setting teeth in textile cards, a threshing machine, metal pens, a new type of fire engine, a machine for matching boards, numerous innovations in waterworks, planing machinery, silk reeling machinery, small looms for weaving palm leaf, machines for processing broom corn, and ball-and-socket tilters for chair legs.
In the 1820’s, it was the Shakers who made the broom flat. This was the only major update to the broom since the introduction of the broom machine. It was simple but ingenious: instead of lashing the broom corn in a round bundle to the handle, they secured the corn with wire, flattening it with a vice and sewing it tight resulted in superior cleaning tool. The revised shape offered increased control over the broom’s motion and a broadened surface area.
Not much has changed! The straw broom in your closet today bears almost exactly this same design.