Ottawa History Lecture Series to focus on radium girls in next installment

Lectures scheduled June 18 and June 25

The next installment of the Ottawa History Lecture Series will present the story of “The Radium Girls from a Personal Perspective.”

On Oct. 25, 1922, a small ad appeared in the Ottawa Free Trader newspaper from the new Radium Dial Studio seeking “the services of several girls for studio work.” The ad went on to say the work involved was “unusually clean and attractive” and the girls would receive “good pay while learning.” Little did the girls who responded to this seemingly innocent ad realize how this work would affect their lives and indeed the lives of all workers today.

Photographed in 1926 are the employees of the Radium Dial Studio, which was located in the former Ottawa High School building on Columbus Street.

Margaret “Peg” Looney was one of the girls who responded to this ad, beginning work at the Radium Dial Studio on Jan. 1, 1923. Six years later, her family was mourning her tragic death at the age of 24 because of radium poisoning.

Darlene Halm, Peg Looney’s niece, will present the story “The Radium Girls from a Personal Perspective” at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 18, and Sunday, June 25, in the sixth lecture of the Ottawa History Lecture Series at the Ottawa History and Scouting Heritage Museum, 1100 Canal St.

Admission is $5 for the public or $4 for museum members. Since seating is limited, reservations must be made by visiting the museum in person between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday or by calling 815-431-9353. Those patrons who have prepaid for the entire lecture series are asked to contact the museum to confirm their attendance.

All proceeds of the lecture series go to the Ottawa Historical and Scouting Heritage Museum’s efforts to raise funds for a building addition. The seventh lecture will be at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 16, at the museum. Mollie Perrot will continue her series on Ottawa’s beautiful homes with her lecture entitled “Magnificent Mansions of the East Side.”