Mary Anderson

by Olivia Tefertiller

Early Life

Mary Anderson was born in 1866, Greene County, Alabama during the start of Reconstruction. In 1889, she moved with her sister and widowed mother to the busy town of Birmingham, Alabama. She there built the Fairmont Apartments. She later moved west to Fresno, California in 1983. She never went to college but up until 1898 she owned and operated a cattle ranch and vineyard there.
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The Invention

In a visit to New York City in 1902, she observed that when people got sleet or snow on there windshield they would have to stick their hand out the window and wipe it off. She wondered if there was an invention that could do that without the passenger doing it themselves. That's how she came up the windshield wiper, a rubber blade on the outside of a vehicle window to wipe away snow and sleet. Many told her it was stupid to try considering it had already been attempted. She pitched her idea to many companies but many rejected her. After the patent expired in 1920, the auto business grew exponentially, and windshield wipers became standard equipment in automobiles.
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Later Life

After traveling all over to places like Alabama, California, New York City, and Tennessee, Mary resided in Birmingham, unwed with no children, to continue managing the Fairmont Apartments. She later died at her summer home in Monteagle, Tennessee of natural causes at the age of 87. (1953) Without the influential invention of Mary Anderson, windshield wipers would have been developed a lot later. Her invention has helped people all the way up to this decade. She is not only inspiring because she is a female inventor but also because she became successful over a very simple idea and by being influenced by the environment and people around her.