Today is Ada Lovelace Day – a day in which to blog about women in technology who have inspired you or who you admire.
Craft and technology are inextricably linked so I have hunted down Mary Dixon Kies the first female to be given a US patent for a weaving technique that was important to the New England economy in the 1800’s as she came up with a way of weaving straw with silk or thread. This was a revolutionary new technique that boosted up the hat making industry.
At the time women wore staw hats in the fields to work and with looming war in Europe imports were being stopped. Mary’s process was imensly important resulting in praise from government albeit through the Presidents Wife. The technique was used for over a decade but the importants of what she did may lay more in the fact that she was the first woman to apply for a patent in her own name.
This set a president and though she is one of only 20 women to have recieved a patent before 1840 she started the trend. Women inventors did not see much point in getting their inventions patented at this juncture in history as they could not own anything or take credit for things in their own right – anything they earned belonged to their husbands so most thought what was the point.
Mary broke this pattern on 5 May 1809.
Unfortunatly for Mary her friends and family fashions changed and straw hats were out resulting in them loosing what they had gained – she died penniless but there is a monument to her in Old South Killingly cemetery and her impact on history is worth noting.