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Female Inventors in the 19th Century

Washing machine patent Protection for one’s inventions is done through US issued patents. The first one was awarded in 1790. However, the first woman to be issued a patent was Hazel Irwin from Boston, Massachusetts. She was awarded the patent on Dec. 28, 1808 for a cheese press. Hazel’s patent number was U1.8081. The first patent issued to an African-American woman, Sarah E. Goode, (born 1850 died 1905) was on July 14, 1885 US Pat. No. 322,177), for a cabinet design which held a fold out bed. During the day it was a desk and at night could be made into a bed.

The types of inventions done by women has been quite varied. ┬áMost would be things to help in the household, from the kitchen to bedding, fireplaces, sewing, and children’s items. They also invented devices and solutions to medical problems and conditions. However, there were also inventions by women for improvements for locomotives, in the making of cigars, bee hives, fly traps, making fertilizer, mixing of alloys to make iron, sunshades for horses, street car awning, equipment to remove snow from railroad tracks, rotary engine, steam generator, or a musical watch.

Submitted patents applications to the Federal government usually have an illustration / drawing showing how the invention worked. Each issued patent also has the inventor’s signature. So an interesting search just might be available checking with the Library of Congress, you never know which ancestor came up with a brilliant idea.

Photo: Issued Feb. 16, 1892 was for a washing machine designed by Mary A. Jack of Illinois. It was patent # 469,146.

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