Women Inventions in the 19th Century

Written by Dana Almoalami

9/6/20213 min read

Female inventors have played an important role in many countries' history, but they haven't always been given credit for their contributions, and their contributions have sometimes been overlooked. Historically, women, "especially women of color," have had fewer means to seek patents and promote their ideas.

Josephine G. Cochran: The first commercially effective dishwasher was invented by Josephine G. Cochran. She was born in Ohio in 1839, and her great-grandfather, John Fitch, was an inventor noted for his steamboat-related innovations. Josephine may have inherited creative instincts from her family, but she was not schooled in the sciences.

Cochrane was a wealthy socialite, she and her husband William frequently hosted guests at their home, and accustomed to having servants do much of her housework for her, Cochran set out to construct a dishwasher after learning her beautiful china would sometimes chip when being rinsed in the sink. She attempted to wash the dishes herself at first, but the chore proved too difficult for her, and she reasoned that there must be a better way.

As a result, she designed a superior design that included water jets and a dish rack. Unfortunately, her partner died shortly after she began working on this design. She was left in debt. This tragedy gave her a big push, and she became even more determined to develop a successful model, Cochrane got to work in a shed behind her house. She measured the dishes and fashioned wire chambers to hold plates, cups, and saucers, which she then placed within a wheel that sat flat inside a copper boiler. The wheel rotated, powered by a motor, and soapy water squirted up to clean the dishes. The popularity of the machines increased in the 1950s when technology, women's views toward housekeeping, and dishwashing detergent all shifted in favor of the dishwasher. The dishwasher is now a standard feature in the average American home. She passed away in 1913, at the age of 74.

Bessie Virginia Blount: The woman who created the feeding tube in 1951. Blount has been dubbed the "Handicapped Savior" for her creation (the feeding tube). She was born in 1914 in Hickory, Virginia. Bessie Blount, who was born with a left hand, was frequently struck on the knuckles for being a lefty and, like many individuals at the time, was forced to use her right hand. Blount reasoned that if she couldn't write left-handed, she couldn't write right-handed either. As a result, she taught herself how to write using her mouth and a pencil. And with her toes, she developed a talent that would be useful in teaching amputees to write without using their hands. During World War II, her invention enabled disabled veterans to feed themselves.

Bessie Blount was a professional physical therapist by the end of WWII. Many of her patients were front-line amputees. Blount taught the amputees how to perform basic activities with their feet rather than their hands. Eating, on the other hand, was nearly difficult in this situation. As a result, the men needed assistance to eat themselves, which was disappointing for them. Blount saw this as a chance to try to create something that would assist these men to reclaim their freedom and improve their spirits. In 1951, she created her first innovation, a feeding device. Her revolutionary feeding tube enabled amputees to self-feed.