Josephine Garis Cochrane — Mother of the Modern Dishwasher

From Kitchen Tinkerer to Acclaimed Inventor at the 1893 World’s Fair

Josephine Garis Cochrane with one of her dishwasher patents
In the late 19th-century world that offered little encouragement to female inventors, Josephine Garis Cochrane, against all odds, invented a machine that was a major hit at the 1893 World’s Fair — the first commercially viable mechanical dishwasher. It was the only device out of 10,000 displayed at that World Exposition invented by a woman, and it launched her corporate success.

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” These were words Josephine Garis Cochrane lived by … except when it came to doing the dishes. Why had nobody invented a machine that could clean stacks of dirty dishes without chipping them? After all, it was the 19th century, when there were machines that sewed clothes and cut grass, so how hard could it be?

Continue reading “Josephine Garis Cochrane — Mother of the Modern Dishwasher”

Mary Sears – Pioneering Oceanographer Who Helped Win World War II

Mary Sears and a World War II U.S. Naval landing craft
As head of the U.S. Navy’s Oceanographic Unit, Mary Sears played a major role in revolutionizing how massive World War II military amphibious assaults were planned.

Diminutive, quiet, and bespectacled, it was Mary Sears’ nature to let her research and prodigious body of work speak louder than any commendations or public recognition that came her way. Still, few would argue that she changed the course of oceanographic history, contributed to its growth as an internationally recognized science and, along the way, helped win World War II.

Continue reading “Mary Sears – Pioneering Oceanographer Who Helped Win World War II”

Five Women Who Whipped Up Ice Cream History

And Other Heart Warming Historical Stories of a Frozen Delight

Meet five women who made history — along with some weird and wonderful flavors — in the early days of the ice cream business.

Some folks take their time with long, slow licks while others just bite right into it. We eat it from cones, in cups and with big soup spoons right out of the carton in front of our TVs. It gives us headaches and brain freeze, but we keep coming back for more. It’s ice cream. And long before anyone ever heard of two guys named Ben & Jerry; even before Philly’s own William Breyer hand-cranked his first batch of ice cream during the Civil War, these four women were making names for themselves, serving up everyone’s favorite summer treat.

Continue reading “Five Women Who Whipped Up Ice Cream History”

Blanche Scott: America’s First Female Aviator… or Was She?

An early female pilot and promoter who claimed several aviation “firsts” that weren’t

Blanche Scott in an early Curtiss aircraft
Daughter of a 19th-century patent medicine huckster, Blanche Scott proved herself as good a pilot as she was a shameless promoter claiming a number of early aviation “firsts” that weren’t.

Blanche Stuart Scott couldn’t stand the thought of “being a nobody and a nothing in New York’s millions.” So this only child, spoiled by wealthy parents and described as stubborn, adventurous, competitive and fiercely determined, became somebody, racking up a slew of firsts along the way. Unfortunately, some of those firsts weren’t. Some were more like close, but no cigar.

Continue reading “Blanche Scott: America’s First Female Aviator… or Was She?”

Mary Anning – Britain’s Forgotten Fossil Hunter

A Pioneering 19th-Century Paleontologist Who Changed Science

Mary Anning and the Jurrassic Coast fossil cliffs of Lyme Regis, England
Now known as the Jurassic Coast, the massive cliffs that break off into the English Channel at Lyme Regis in England expose rock formations that go back more than 185 million years. In the early 1800s, Mary Anning made major discoveries here.

In the opening decades of the 19th century, Mary Anning, a country bumpkin who lived in a town overlooking the English Channel, made some of the earliest landmark discoveries in the emerging new science of paleontology. Yet male scientists often ended up taking all the credit.

Continue reading “Mary Anning – Britain’s Forgotten Fossil Hunter”

Code Cracker Extraordinaire Elizebeth Smith Friedman

A Cryptographic Sleuth Who Took Down Mobsters, Spies, and Nazis

Top secret Cryptoanalyst Elizebeth Smith Friedman cracked the Nazi military's Enigma code systems.
A driving force in the creation of the modern craft and science of cryptography, or code cracking, Elizebeth Smith Friedman spent a top secret career bringing down mobsters, spies and Nazi enemies.

Most people can’t name anyone whose career took them from searching for hidden messages in Shakespeare’s works to Nazi code busting to foiling Prohibition rum runners and sending mobsters to the slam. But that’s exactly how Elizebeth Smith Friedman liked it. She was perfectly happy working in the shadows as a complete unknown.

Continue reading “Code Cracker Extraordinaire Elizebeth Smith Friedman”