The woman who counted to one million

The great claim to fame of Marva Drew of Waterloo, Iowa was that she typed the numbers one to one million on a manual typewriter. It took her about six years, starting in 1968 and ending in 1974 (although she took several years off in the middle). It totaled 2,473 pages.

She explained that she got the idea when she heard that her son’s high school teacher had told him that no one had ever counted to a million, and that anyone who tried would be crazy. So Marva decided she’d do it.

She noted that if someone started at the age of 18, they could conceivably type up to 50 million in their entire life.

Some other info from the Waterloo Courier:

“Corrections and erasures were done meticulously, and often whole handfuls of pages were discarded when she discovered she’d left out a number somewhere along the way...
There were physical problems, too. The endless carriage returns caused pains in her wrist, back, and shoulders, and there were swollen fingers, eyestrain, headaches, and insomnia."

Marva Drew poses with the stack of completed pages.

Update: I just recalled that we have another story on WU about someone counting up to one million. It's the case of Henry Parish of Meddybemps, Maine who counted a million peas in one month, back in 1922.

The first and last pages typed.

Waterloo Courier - Dec 5, 1974

     Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 04, 2019
     Category: Eccentrics | World Records | 1970s

That took determination, indeed! I have a friend who spent the months between the end of our second and third year of university traveling Canada and the U.S. photographing the street signs that were the same as the street he lived as a child - Mansfield Ave.

agent j
Posted by agent j on 02/04/19 at 12:31 PM
The artist Jonathan Borofsky started his counting art piece around that time. I believe he exhibited his stack of papers when he was at 2M+ in 1975. As it is art who knows who meticulous he was about the counting.]/1to2000000n]a01.jpg
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze on 02/04/19 at 12:46 PM

This should be the correct link.
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze on 02/04/19 at 12:48 PM
So, proving the teacher correct: if you do this, you're nuts?
Posted by Richard Bos on 02/09/19 at 06:27 AM
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