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Mary Anderson was an inventor, real estate developer, rancher, and viticulturist from Alabama. She devised the first operational windscreen wiper in 1903. If you have ever been on a road trip and hard rain falls down from the sky, or if you have ever driven around an area filled with fog, you might have used your car’s windshield wiper in order to gain sight of the road.
See the fact file below for more information on the Mary Anderson or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Mary Anderson worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Mary Anderson’s parents were John C. and Rebecca Anderson.
- John and Rebecca had two daughters: one was Mary herself, and the other was Fannie.
- In 1870, four years after Mary was born, John died.
- After John’s death, the family was able to live on the proceeds of his estate.
- Rebecca decided to move to Birmingham with her two daughters in 1889.
- Soon after arriving at Birmingham, Rebecca built the Fairmont Apartment on Highland Avenue.
- Mary Anderson had to move to Fresno, California in order to handle a cattle ranch and a vineyard in 1893.
- Five years after taking care of the ranch and vineyard, Mary had to return to Birmingham to take care of an aunt who was suffering from illness.
- Upon returning to Birmingham, Mary, along with Fannie, with her husband Thornton, Rebecca, and her aunt, decided to move to the Fairmont Apartments.
- The Andersons were able to live in comfort after Mary’s aunt had brought a big trunk with her, a trunk that contained a collection of gold and jewelry.
- One winter in the year 1903, with the inheritance that came from her aunt, Mary Anderson took a trip to New York City.
THE INVENTION OF THE WINDSHIELD WIPER
- The idea or the inspiration for a “Window Cleaning Device” came into Mary Anderson’s mind during her trip to New York.
- Since her trip was during winter, the streetcar Mary Anderson was riding drove a snowy road.
- Anderson observed how the streetcar driver struggled to see the road he was driving on, since the window’s view was interrupted by snow.
- The driver had to stick his head out into the window to see the road; this trick would make the driver feel uncomfortable as he exposed himself to the cold winter snow.
- Sometimes, the driver would stop the car occasionally to clean the windshield.
- After Mary Anderson’s New York trip, she immediately thought of a solution.
- She designed a windshield blade that was able to connect itself to the vehicle’s interior.
- The blade would have a wiper that the driver could operate from inside the car in order to clean the window.
- With this technology, Anderson thought, driving would be way more efficient as drivers would regain a clear view of the road from their window without stopping and getting out of the vehicle just to wipe it.
- On June 18, 1903, Mary Anderson decided to file a patent application for her invention.
- After almost five months, on November 10, 1903 the patent was awarded for Mary Anderson’s “Window cleaning device for electric cleaning device for electric cars and other vehicles to remove snow, ice or sleet from the window.”
- The patent for her windshield wiper was awarded under the name of U.S. Patent No. 743, 801.
- Even though Mary Anderson was successful in patenting her brilliant idea, she struggled to sell her idea to various companies.
- Sadly, no company was interested in her invention at the time. And so, Mary Anderson eventually gave up.
- Due to discouragement, Mary Anderson stopped pushing her product.
- After 17 years, the contract for the patent expired. This was in 1920.
- And in 1920, cars and other automobiles were more prevalent than ever. The demand for cars also meant a skyrocketing demand for windshield wipers.
- However, Mary Anderson had completely given up on her invention.
- Instead, she just allowed corporations to use and manufacture windshield wipers.
- And so, Mary Anderson did not get any financial benefit from her invention.
- Historians speculated that Mary Anderson’s invention was simply way ahead of her time, but being discouraged also greatly contributed to her decisions. As a result, Mary Anderson ended up being a footnote in the history of automobiles.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- Mary Anderson died on June 27, 1953 at her summer home in Monteagle, Tennessee.
- It was only in 2011 when Mary Anderson was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
- Little was known about Mary’s personal life as there were no records about whether she had a husband and/or children.
Mary Anderson Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Mary Anderson across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Mary Anderson worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Mary Anderson who was an inventor, real estate developer, rancher, and viticulturist from Alabama. She devised the first operational windscreen wiper in 1903. If you have ever been on a road trip and hard rain falls down from the sky, or if you have ever driven around an area filled with fog, you might have used your car’s windshield wiper in order to gain sight of the road.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Mary Anderson Facts
- Sweet Home Alabama
- Career Checklist
- Lightbulb moment
- Timeline of events
- Prepare the pitch!
- Women Inventors
- One Great Idea
- Inventors Decode
- Letter for Mary
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Link will appear as Mary Anderson Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 7, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.