The Lady Edisons: Machine Specialists
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The Lady Edisons: Machine Specialists. Beulah Louise Henry: Mother Edison. Margaret Knight: Paper Bag Queen. Madame C.J. Walker: First female African-American millionaire. Mary Walton: Reduced Train Pollution. Mary Pennington: The Refrigerated Train. Mary Anderson: The Windshield Wiper.

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The lady edisons machine specialists

The Lady Edisons: Machine Specialists

Beulah Louise Henry: Mother Edison

Margaret Knight: Paper Bag Queen

Madame C.J. Walker: First female African-American millionaire.

Mary Walton: Reduced Train Pollution

The lady edisons machine specialists

Mary Pennington: The Refrigerated Train

Mary Anderson: The Windshield Wiper

Hedy Lamarr: Frequency Hopping

Ruth Handler: Barbie

20 th century women inventors of tools and machines

20th CENTURY:Women Inventors of Tools and Machines

By: Aisy Naidu

Spring 2006


The lady edisons machine specialists

In the 20th Century, machines and mechanical inventions patented by women grew at an exponential rate.

The changing role of women
The Changing Role of Women

  • During World War I the rapidly expanding war industries dipped heavily into the labor force of women.

  • In 1918 nearly three million new women workers were employed in food, textile and war industries. Many taboos and restrictions thrown up to keep women out of large-scale productions industry were broken down.

  • Women worked as streetcar conductors, radio operators, and in steel mills and logging camps during the war.

  • Reference:

Chemists versus mechanics
Chemists Versus Mechanics

The most prolific women patentees tended to be chemists, and therefore they received more recognition.

Dr. Ruth Benerito- works for the Department of Agriculture and has over 55 patents that deal mainly with wash and wear fabrics

Dr. Giuliana Tesoro- a textile chemist who worked with a private industry and had over 125 patents

Obstacles faced by women mechanics
Obstacles Faced By Women Mechanics

  • Professional:

    Women were hired for consultancy on household machines but were not given the opportunity to be innovators within corporations

  • Marketing/ Social Stigma:

    Women with good inventions were often overlooked or not taken seriously by corporations because of their gender

  • Submerged in Teams:

    Provided valuable input in inventions but the credit often went to the team leader, typically males

Machines that made an impact
Machines That Made an Impact





Sewing machine
Sewing Machine

The Number of Women’s Sewing-Machine Patents by 1894

Beulah Louise Henry (1887 - )

  • Born in Memphis Tennessee

  • Invented the first bobbin less sewing machine (1940)

  • Such a prolific inventor that she was coined “Lady Edison”

  • Created about 110 inventions and held 49 patents


Sewing machine continued
Sewing Machine Continued…

Dorothy Young Kirby (1909 - )

  • Authored the Dot Young Sewing Guide

  • Enabled sewer to give clothes perfectly straight seams and professional looking top-stitching

  • Six mail-order catalogues which sold over 250,000 copies

    Rosa Csudor-de Valerio (1894 - )

  • Entertainer and Skating Champion from Romania

  • Invented Ro Ri Ro(1975) at age 81

  • A new embroidery technique and sewing attachment

The dishwasher
The Dishwasher

Josephine Cochrane

  • Invented the first automatic dishwasher in 1887

  • She unveiled her invention at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and won its highest award.

  • She began manufacturing her invention, and it was used heavily in all major hotels.

  • Her company has evolved today into the well known Kitchen-Aid.

The dishwasher cont
The Dishwasher Cont…

Anna Dunder

  • Patented an early dishwasher in 1903

    Frances GABe

  • Invented the Self-Cleaning house which included dishwashing cupboards (aesthetically pleasing)

    Alma T. McHargue

  • Patented a dishwasher that included a drainer in 1911

The washing machine
The Washing Machine

Jessie Whitney

Cartwright (1897-1977)

  • Director of Norge’s Home Institute

  • Had at least four important inventions concerning washing machines, among them…

  • Ripplette (1954): a small agitator which would replace a large agitator of a washing machine for protecting delicate items

  • Stop Cycle in dryers

  • Delicate cycle

  • Metal backed panels for washing machines which made them quieter and reduced shock

The washing machine cont
The Washing Machine Cont…

Ethel R. Blake, Bertha Moe (along with husband)

  • Patented washing machines in 1925

    Agatha K. Bremer

  • Patented a washing machine in 1940

    Belle Tucker

  • Invented lint trap for washing machine in 1970

    Frances GABe

  • Created a combination closet and clothes-washer as part of her self-cleaning house

The typewriter
The Typewriter

No one person can be said to have invented the typewriter, but it may have been created as early as 1700’s.

The typewriter cont
The Typewriter Cont…

Lily Pavey

  • Invented the Musikriter in 1961

  • Musical typewriter for which this British inventor won many accolades

  • Eventually manufactured and sold widely

    Lillian Malt

  • Owner of Lillian Malt Training Services

  • Invented the Maltron Keyboard in 1978

  • Was designed to fit different finger lengths and had vowels spaced further apart as to reduce errors

    Evelyn Berezin

  • Word Processing Pioneer

  • Helped invent the Data Secretary which had far more capabilities than IBM.

  • She made huge financial profit for selling her Redactron, the company that produced the Data Secretary

The typewriter cont1
The Typewriter Cont…

Sarah M. Hawley

  • Patented a paper-feeding mechanism for typewriting machines (1907)

    Emma D. Mills

  • Devised her own typewriter with several innovative mechanisms

    Martha F. Cooke

  • Typewriter key-locking attachment (1940)

    Beulah Henry (at least 14 related patents)

  • Supplemental Ribbon Attachment

  • Duplicating Attachment

  • Silent Typewriter

  • Key operated machines

Women agriculture
Women & Agriculture

  • Of all agricultural patents granted to women between 1905-1921, about 45% of them were machines or mechanical devices.

  • Most of these inventions were made by farm women, and not urban inventors or corporate workers.

  • As Agriculture became more professionalized, the “Takeover Theory” comes into play, and women granted patents for farm machinery drastically reduced.

  • Some Patentees in this Field:

  • Marie Huschka

    • Patented the fowl-dressing appliance

  • Dora E. Warfel

    • Patented a poultry feeding appliance

Women architecture
Women & Architecture

  • As the population grew and houses became smaller, the need for space efficient furniture increased; it is about this time that women began patenting house furniture; building and construction, and mechanical devices.

  • Some Patentees in this Field

  • Alice Parker

    • Invented the heating furnace

  • Lillian Gilbreth

    • Designed appliances and whole kitchens for the handicapped veterans of World War I

  • Frances GABe

    • Self-Cleaning House

  • Alice Austin

    • Built in furniture and roll-away beds

Women art
Women & Art

  • Women have played a significant role in mechanical devices used in the Arts; not limited to the areas of photography, artist devices, and sculpting devices.

  • Some Devices Patented by Women

    • Adjustable artist’s desk and easel

    • Drawing Table

    • Etching Apparatus

    • Reproducing Outlines of a Form

    • Camera

    • Automatic controller for camera shutters

Women commercial and retail trade
Women & Commercial and Retail Trade

  • Some Patentees in this Field

  • Edith L Boyer

    • Patented the Labeling Machine in 1907

  • Alice M. Argles

    • Inventor from England who patented a coin-freed mechanism for good-delivery machine in 1901

  • Florence Anderson

    • Patented the Coinbox which was heavily used in parking meters n 1952

  • Barbara Brown

    • Printing mechanism for cash registers in 1979

Women education
Women & Education

  • Society enforced the caretaker role upon women and teaching children was one of the few jobs that was considered acceptable for them in the 20th Century.

  • Some Devices Patented by Women

    • Means of teaching the Alphabet

    • Appliance for teaching reading

    • Means of aiding the teaching of spelling

    • Inflatable globe for geography teaching

Women electrics
Women & Electrics

  • Women have held an extensive role in the advancement of technology in the field of Electrics. The following is a less than exhaustive list of some of the key players.

  • Some Patentees in this Field

  • Delma E. Lee

  • Patented the electric switch in 1910

  • Angelica E. Post

  • Invented the Dry Cell battery in 1906

  • Hertha Ayrton

  • First woman member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers Invented the Pulsemeter and Carbon Arc Light for Movie Projection

  • Maude Adams

    • Improved capability for showing full color film in daylight

  • Edith Clarke

    • Patented a calculator (1925), electric power transmission (1927), and electric circuit (1944)

  • Jessie Pope

    • Invented the thermostatically controlled curling iron (1946)


    Chien-Shiung Wu

    Well known physicist who improved instruments to detect radiation

    Hedy Lamarr

    Frequency hopping, a secret communication system used in cell phone industry today

    Harriet Stern

    Invented the portable hair dryer in 1962

    Mary Spaeth

    Tunable dye laser used in check-out technology today

    Mabel MacFerran Rockwell

    Only woman involved in design for Hoover Dam

    Dr. Beatrice Hicks

    Co-Founder and first president of Society of Women Engineers

    Dr. Alla Masevich

    Invented the first satellite tracking technology

    Women health medical
    Women & Health/Medical

    • Some Patentees in this Field

    • Dr. Jessie Wright

      • Rocking bed for patients needing help with breathing

    • Dr. Anne Chamney

      • Oxygen tent

    • Doreen Kennedy-Way

      • Battery Operated Go Cart for Spina Bifida children

    • Julia Butcher

      • Invalid Exercising bed

    Women the labor saving and domestic field
    Women & the Labor Saving and Domestic Field

    Some Patentees in this Field

    Ethel A. Cooper

    Folding ironing board

    Corinne Dufour

    May have invented a portable vacuum cleaner around 1910

    Dorothy Rodgers

    At least 7 household inventions among them the Jonny Mop in 1946 for cleaning toilet bowls

    Leonara Hafen

    Invented a cleaning brush for small crevices and a rug shampooer with less spattering

    Buelah Louise Henry

    Can Opener in 1956

    Women in manufacturing industrial
    Women in Manufacturing/Industrial

    Some Patentees in this Field

    Catherine Evans

    Pioneered the tufting technique which led to the manufacturing of chenille, a fabric used in bedspreads (around 1905)

    Alida Marcoux

    Patented eight looms or loom mechanisms between 1902-1908

    Lydia B. Koch

    Held over 19 patents related to the manufacturing of paper bottles

    Hazel Hook Wolz

    Invented the bobby pin used by millions today for pinning hair

    Wei Feng-ying

    Had over 400 technical innovations to her credit

    Women the office
    Women & The Office

    Some Patentees in this Field

    Marie Heilbron

    Patented a letter opener machine that was useful for stores with heavy mail volume. It opened 400 letters per minute as opposed to 30 by hand.

    Verena Holmes

    Patented a safety paper cutter in Britain

    Emily Duncan

    Patented two banking related calculators

    Women theatre
    Women & Theatre

    • Acting in theatre and stage production was an acceptable career choice for women, and they readily began going about ways to enhance their work environment through developing technologies.

    • Patentee in this Field

    • Raye Coplan

    • Invented the Marionette, which simplified the operation of puppets

    • Devices Patented by Women

    • Device for producing stage rain

    • Fire illusion device

    Women toys
    Women & Toys

    This is an extensive field, and the list could go on and on; but the following are just a few of the women who made mechanical toys for children.

    Some Patentees in this Field

    Beulah Henry

    Eating toy animal in 1953

    Movable lip for toy figures in 1951

    A toy cow that gives “milk” in 1951

    Helen L. Borza

    Windmill Toy

    Ruth Handler

    Barbie (doll with movable arms and legs)

    Women transportation
    Women & Transportation

    Women have invented significant and advanced technologies in the areas of transportation, and improved upon models already in place.

    Some Patentees in this Field

    Jean Aimes

    Invented the first commercial child seat in1962

    Lillian Todd

    Uncovered a glider-type aircraft in 1906

    Vera C. Hodges

    Introduced the starter for engines in 1935

    The end
    The End