Women and Car’s Early Years

8 06 2017

Dale BertramWomen played a role in the history of the car.  Here are a few facts that are interesting to know!

1903 – Mary Anderson was granted a patent for the windshield wiper in 1903. The first windshield wiper was a swinging arm with a rubber blade that could be operated manually from inside the car. She first tried to sell her idea to a Canadian firm in 1905 but they decided it was “not of such commercial use as would warrant the undertaking of its sale.” Hmmm…big mistake!  Wipers became standard in cars by 1916.

1909 – Alice Huyler Ramsey, at age 22, drove cross country (3,800 miles) from New York to San Francisco. It took 59 days! Keep in mind that most of those miles were on unpaved roads and she didn’t have maps (those things we used before GPS!). Alice had to change 11 tires, repair a broken brake pedal, and clean spark plugs! She became the first woman inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

1913 – Can’t imagine a car without turn signals or brake lights?  Isn’t it annoying to drive behind someone without them? Silent film star, Florence Lawrence certainly felt they were necessary.  She invented an “auto signaling arm” which was activated by pressing a button.  It would raise or lower an arm that had a sign, showing which way the driver was turning. When the driver wanted to stop, a “stop sign” would pop up.

1915 – Wilma K. Russey became the first female New York City taxi driver…on New Year’s Day!  She dressed very elegantly as a taxi driver and was also an expert (and stylish) auto mechanic.

1943 – Helene Rother became the first female automotive designer. She was hired by General Motors to create stylish and glamourous interior designs for cars. Helene was the first woman to address the Society of Automotive Engineers and was awarded the Jackson Medal for excellence of design.

The next time you use your wiper blades, turn signals or brake lights…think of these innovative women!

 

 

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