March is Women’s History Month! We all know how the most famous women like the amazing Susan B Anthony, or Amelia Earhart affected history, but what we rarely hear about are the other thousands of women who have impacted us in so many ways.
Our trivia game with Karen, from Cooking from the Heart, was so much fun, and we really learned a lot! In case you missed any of the facts about of these amazing women, check out the info below.
1n 1868, a 30 year old Margaret Knight invented a machine that created a product so popular that we still use it today. In fact, this product was so useful that a man stole the idea to patent himself. Margaret took him to court and his defense was that a woman “could not possibly understand the complexities” of the machinery.
Well, since she had all of the designs, Margaret proved that it was her idea, and won the case. What was this sought after invention? It was a machine that created the folded paper bag.
Maria Beasley invented and successfully marketed 15 products in the late 1800’s, earning herself an income of over $20,000 a year when most women at the time earned only about $1000. Some of her inventions include a foot warmer, an anti de-railment device for trains and a compact, waterproof, safe lifeboat for ships.
Her most lucrative invention was a barrel hopper which sped up the production of barrels to 1500 per day. Regardless of her income or her barrel making business, she was listed on the 1880 US Census and an “unemployed housewife.”
Throughout history, women have worn some outrageous fashion items to make themselves “more appealing” to the opposite sex, even when this meant physical discomfort. Who would want to be strapped into a corset tied so tightly that breathing was difficult?
Well, some of these clothing items while being uncomfortable, actually could be quite dangerous for the wearers. An example of this is the crinoline hoop skirt.
The volume of these skirts was so great that there are stories of women dying in burning buildings because their dresses made them unable to squeeze out of the doors to escape. AND there are even accounts of strong gusts of wind lifting women (imagine an umbrella on a windy day) over a steep embankment or a cliff to their deaths. Wow!
Though we don’t hear about it too much, women have always been daredevils. If you’ve ever seen those old pictures of someone going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, you may be surprised to know that that the first person to attempt and successfully conquer Niagara Falls was, in fact, a woman. In 1901 Annie Taylor, with the dreams of becoming rich and famous from this stunt, climbed into a barrel and went over the falls.
Instead of using one of Maria Beasley’s barrels, she custom crafted her barrel for safety. She chose Each piece of wood, and even had air pumped into the barrel (she guesstimated she would need about an hour’s worth). She definitely hit the headlines after the event, but her fame was fleeting, and she sadly died in poverty. Oh, did we mention that Annie was 63 when she did this? Now that’s a daredevil!
Our last amazing fact for the day celebrates the strength of women to fight for their convictions. Even though it was illegal for women to fight in the Civil War, there are about 400 documented cases of women doing just that (although it is believed the actual number is closer to 1000).
Women disguised as men were typically only “discovered” when they were killed or wounded and had their uniforms removed. Such was the case with Lizzie Compton. This teenaged girl would be “discovered” and discharged by 7 regiments throughout her 18 month service in the Union Army. Now THAT’S determination!