Each year for Women's History Month, I try to find books at the library about different women for Hazel to hear their stories and know the difference women play in history. This year one of our focuses has been on women inventors. I found nine women who invented something and have a book at about Hazel level written on them. Some of these books I have not read yet since they are requested from other libraries and have not arrived, so I am guessing a bit on the levels. I will share a bit about each women in this post: Ruth Wakefield, Grace Hopper, Gertrude Elion, Hedy Lemarr, Martha Coston, Stephanie Kwolek, Margaret Knight, Mary Anderson and Amanda Jones.
Ruth Graves Wakefield
Dr. Grace Murray Hopper
|By James S. Davis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
Gertrude B. Elion
|See page for author [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
|By Trailer screenshot (Her Highness and the Bellboy trailer) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons|
|Source: American Civil War Story|
Martha Coston was born in 1826 in Baltimore. At the age of 14 or 16 she eloped. Her husband, Benjamin Franklin Coston became the director of the U.S. Navy's scientific laboratory in Washington, D.C. After a dispute over payment he resigned his position in 1847 and began work for Boston Gas Company. In 1848 he died due to chemical exposure from his two jobs. In the years following her husband's death two of Martha's children and her mother also died. Martha found her husband's work on night signal flares. His work was incomplete and needed some work before producing a practical signaling system. She worked on them for nearly ten years. She relied on knowledge of hired chemists and firework specialists since she did not have her husband's chemistry background. After many trials, she finally perfected the flares and asked the Secretary of the Navy to have a group of officers to test them. In 1859 she was granted a patent as the administratrix for her deceased husband. The U.S. Navy soon placed orders for her different color flares. Martha also got patents in Europe and traveled to Europe to market her flares. In 1861 Martha returned to the United States and went directly to Washington since the Civil War was about to start. She petitioned Congress to buy her patent so the flares could be used in the conflict. She proposed they pay $40,000. Congress approved buying them for $20,000. Coston's flares were used extensively bu the U.S. Navy in the Civil War and they were proven effective in the war. Coston continued to improve her flares and had a patent in her own name in 1871. Eventually every life-saving station was equipped with Coston's flares. She died in 1904, but her company was in business until at least 1985. (Sources: Wikipedia and American Civil War Story)
|Chemical Heritage Foundation [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons|
|Source: Tech Republic|
Margaret Knight has been called the most famous 19th century inventor. She was born in 1838 and went to school until she was twelve. At age twelve she began working in a cotton mill. She observed an accident at the mill and her first invention was to help stop such accidents. It was an invention to automatically stop the machine if something got caught. After the Civil War Margaret moved to Massachusetts and worked in a paper bag factory. She thought it would be easier to pack things in the bags if they had a flat bottom. She invented a machine that would fold and glue the bottom of the paper bags. Charles Annan tried to patent Margaret's invention, but she took him to court and proved it was hers. She received her patent in 1871. To this day thousands of machines based on Margaret's patents are in use today. (Sources: Famous Women Inventors and Wikipedia)
|Source: Birmingham History Center|
|Source: Voices Education|
For more Women's History posts check out the following and be sure to check out the Multicultural Kid Blogs Women's History Month Blog Series with Link Party.