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Mary Anderson

Mary Anderson
Ink and watercolor on 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper
The latest addition to the ‘She Changed the World’ collection!

Mary Anderson (1866-1953) created the windshield wiper, an invention used by almost everyone who drives. Mary grew up in Alabama, and later moved to Fresno, California where she operated a cattle ranch and a vineyard. During a visit to New York City in 1902 while riding a cable car on a cold day, she noticed that the car operator had to drive with the double-pane windshield open as the sleet kept building up too fast on it. Returning home to Alabama, she worked with a designer and a local company to manufacture a prototype of a rubber blade with a counterweight which held it against a windshield. She was granted the 17-year patent in 1903.

She was unable to get any major auto manufacturer during the time of the patent to utilize the invention. After the patent’s expiration in 1920 the automobile industry exploded and in 1922 Cadillac was the first manufacturer to make them standard. Now they’re on every car, train, plane, boat…pretty much everything. All thanks to a southern cowgirl who saw something no one else did.

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