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The article on woman inventors below is part of a patent manual written by Fred Dieterich in 1899. The interesting point here is not that it is surprising to see a piece written today about women inventors, but that when the article below was written it was 1899 and women didn't yet have the "right" to vote. We will be supplying a bibliography on women and invention shortly, so check back soon.
Women as Inventors
That woman is rapidly coming to the front as an inventor is evidenced by the large increase in the number of applications being filed by them. It is an erroneous impression that women invent improvements on articles especially adapted and intended for their sex, for the reason that they are constantly exercising their ingenuity in the direction of improving many of the devices and implements with which men only as a rule are supposed to.
The records of the Patent Office bear witness to the fact that the inventive genius of the fair sex is constantly accomplishing remarkable, advantageous and profitable results.
Particularly in the lines of wearing apparel, household articles, and furniture, the accessories to the boudoir, novelties, etc. are women displaying active and practical ingenuity.
In May, 1805, the first patent to a woman was granted, a device for weaving straw with silk and thread. Some years later, Mary Brush received a patent for a new corset.
One of the earliest inventors was Lavina H. Foy, of Worcester, Mass., who in 1862 received a patent for a corset skirt support.
Each weekly issue of the Official Patent Office Gazette now shows a number of new ideas invented and patented by women, and it is a fact, as a rule, inventions the product of the fair sex do not relate to or set out devices of the extreme chimerical or visionary kind too often the product of an inexperienced "first time" male.
There is wide field for the exercise of ingenious minds of women. Every woman (and there are many) having a knack for mechanical structure should study to develop some new idea or thought, as the opportunity for substantial financial returns resulting therefrom is not surpassed in any other direction.
from: Dieterich, Fred G. (1899) "The Inventor's Universal Educator. An Educational Cyclopaedia and Guide" Fred G. Dieterich, Publisher. Washington, D.C. , 143 pgs.
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