Five American Female Inventors You Wish You Could Write a Thank You Note To

1. Ever ridden in a car in the winter without freezing your butt off? You have Margaret Wilcox to thank for that. While her designs have been improved upon over the years, the first car heater design was created by Wilcox in 1893.

“Aaah! Warmth!”

2. If you watched The Titanic recently, you might’ve noticed a distinct lack of these: life rafts. While the life raft is the invention that made Maria Beasley famous, another patent that she made in the late 1800s, a barrel-making machine, is the design that made her rich. She also designed a steam generator and a device that helps keep trains from being derailed. Thanks Maria Beasley!

“Help! I’m stuck in a Beasley life-saving doohicky!”

3. I don’t know about you, but I like food. Fresh food, specifically, so I am big fan of  Florence Parpart‘s invention, the refrigerator. In 1914 she came up with the idea that would replace the icebox forever. Of course, that was only after Parpart received a patent for improved street-sweepers. You go, Florence!

“If Daddy says he wants a sandwich, tell him we keep meat and cheese right here in Florence and he can go ahead and just make it himself, the lazy bastard.”

4. As a student attending a college in Western Mass, I’ve felt a winter chill or two. Thankfully, I can generally stay warm in buildings thanks to Alice H. Parker‘s invention: a gas-fired “heating furnace.” Her invention was the first step towards the central heating we use today. Parker was also a pretty badass woman because she was one of the most well-educated woman of her time and one of the lucky few African American women to attend college back then (Parker graduated from Howard University in the early 1900s). Thanks Alice!

Alice Parker and her heating furnace design

5. To some, she is known as “Queen of paper bags.” To others, she is “the female Edison.” To me, she is the incredible Margaret Knight. Born in 1838, Knight received 26 patents throughout her life. Some of her inventions were a paper bag machine (we still use the basic design today), a rotary engine, and a device to shut down machinery to keep it from injuring textile mill workers (which she designed when she was only 12 years old). I’m super impressed.

“I’m Margaret Knight, a badass female inventor and I’m glamorous to boot!”

So that’s what they did. Now it’s your turn. What are you going to invent?