Men stood in her way...
But she still achieved something remarkable.
At a time she still wasn’t allowed to vote, with men standing in her way, she left a lasting legacy...
We want you to hear her the story of the incredible Mary Anderson.
Mary Anderson was remarkable, however, she’s remembered for one thing in particular...
In 1903 Anderson found herself aboard a trolley cart in the middle of a freezing winter in New York City...
She noticed the shivering driver was forced to prop the front windows open in order to stop snow and sleet building up on the front windows and blocking her vision.
In that moment Anderson had an idea.
Being the go-getter that she was, Anderson had the drive to turn her idea into a reality.
She raced back to Birmingham and within weeks she had commissioned a local designer and business to produce mechanical drawings and a fully functioning working model.
What had Anderson invented at a time she still could not legally vote?
The very first windscreen wiper blade!
See above for an impressive, albeit slightly confusing picture of Anderson’s design.
Anderson knew how valuable her design was, and immediately applied for and was granted a 17 year patent for her automatic car window cleaning device.
The next step was for Anderson to sell the rights to manufacture her product. She approached numerous firms, but likely in no small part due to her being a woman (indeed a woman with no husband, father or son). She was laughed off by most.
One notable Canadian firm had the decency to respond, writing that “we do not consider it to be of such commercial value as would warrant our undertaking its sale."
Considering the wiper blade has gone on to be a critical feature on all of the world’s over 1 billion cars… It’s safe to say this wasn’t the best call.
Sadly, Anderson wasn’t able to secure a manufacturing partner before her patent expired. However, not one to dwell on the past she lived happily to the age of 87, managing the property she had built, and living long enough to see her invention take off around the world.
Impressively, it was another woman, Charlotte Bridgwood, who built on Anderson’s original design to create the first automatic windscreen wipers in 1913. Bridgwood was another remarkable character who was the president of a manufacturing company in NYC. Sadly she also failed to receive any of the wealth or acknowledgment that she deserved.
We think Bridgwood deserves her own piece acknowledging her significant achievements and telling her story, so look out for this in the future.