Juliette Gordon Low was hearing impaired. She sought many treatments throughout her life, and one of the most interesting was the Violet Ray Machine.
Violet ray machines were at their most popular in the 1920s and 1930s. Daisy Low owned one several years before then.
According to their devotees, these contraptions could make nearly everything better. They could bring about “a feeling of well-being, increased mental vigor, [and] heightened resistance to infection,” or so wrote Dr. E. P. Cumberbatch, an Oxbridge physician in the British Medical Journal. More specifically, the violet ray machine cured infants who were unable to eat, children who were plagued by endemic fevers, and adults with the flu. It could assist in healing tuberculosis, rickets, lupus, eczema, acne, boils, and carbuncles.
|Advertisement for a later violet ray machine.|
Most violet ray machines had a wand with various attachments, useful for different ailments.
|Violet ray wand, with detachable head.|
What exactly did Daisy do with hers? I can speculate from the directions in a 1930 manual accompanying a home violet ray machine which read: “Deafness, Earache, and Ear Diseases: Apply ear electrode with very mild current into the ear. Care must be exercised so as not to touch the ear drum. Three to five minutes is sufficient.”
|A violet ray kit for home use.|
Did the violet ray machine cure Daisy Low’s hearing loss? No. Nothing did. But it is interesting to know that she was willing to try many different cures, this one included.
First photo: Modern Mechanix (http://blog.modernmechanix.com/); second photo: Electrotherapy Museum (http://www.electrotherapymuseum.com); third photo: E-bay.