Mary Anderson. A woman. Who is she? What did she contribute towards? Like so many other women of the past who created something to make our lives better, we knew nothing about her until her great-great niece decided she needed to be celebrated and finally got her the credit she was due.
Cars have become a major part of our lives. We cannot imagine functioning without them any which way in our society. We all know the first motor car was commissioned by Carl Benz back in 1879. We also marvel at the one cylinder, two stroke tricycle like contraption that was his car. But unlike most cars, it did not have much safety.you couldn’t drive it in snow or hail.
Now jumping into today’s world, we have luxury cars, bulletproof cars, racing cars and what not and it’s not only because of the advancement in engines and car structure. Many things contributed into making them so.
Can you imagine driving in pouring rain or snow without windshield wipers? Well unless you have a death wish you absolutely would not. But back in 1902 that was the norm since the wipers weren’t invented by then.
It was Marie who finally got the idea after her trip to NewYork while it was snowing and everyone had to get out to clean the front mirror every few minutes. When she got back to Birmingham, she started working on it and by june of 1903, she’d jotted down a full description of it along with some defined functions and sketches.
She filed for the patent on 18th of June, 1903 and was approved under the U.S. patent office and awarded patent number 743801 for window cleaning device, on November 10 of the same year.
According to her great-great niece, the Rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, Sara Scott Wingo, Anderson tried attracting car manufacturers to buy her petition repeatedly but to no avail.
Sara thinks it’s because back then the world was mostly run by men and since her great-great aunt was so independent, they didn’t want to her accomplishment.
But Marie didn’t lose heart and lived another 50 years, finally getting to see her invention in flesh as windshield wipers were added to cars.
In the end she did have the last laugh as her name was added to the Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011.