Ellen Swallow Richards
Image courtesy of the MIT Museum
A life filled with firsts
Ellen Swallow Richards, MIT’s first female graduate and faculty member, opened the door for women in science, and founded ecology and home economics along the way.
In 1887, the Massachusetts State Board of Health commissioned MIT’s new laboratory of sanitary chemistry to survey the state’s drinking water, the first such study in America. Led by Ellen H. Swallow Richards, an instructor at the lab, the two-year survey analyzed more than 20,000 samples collected from inland bodies of water that had been polluted with industrial waste and sewage. As a result of the findings from the landmark study, Massachusetts established the first water-quality standards and municipal sewage-treatment plant in the country.
(click on photo for story)
Josephine Garis Cochrane (1839 – 1913) invented the first practical mechanical dishwasher. At least two others had received patents for their design, but Cochrane’s was so well received, first from friends wanting their own, then by commercial establishments, that she ended up patenting her design and showing the invention at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.
Cochrane was wealthy and had servants to wash her dishes, but wanted a machine that could do it faster without breaking or chipping her fine china. She supposedly said, “If nobody else is going to invent a dishwashing machine, I’ll do it myself!”
She was successful after she went into production and the Garis-Cochrane Manufacturing Company eventually became part of KitchenAid, which became part of Whirlpool.
Margaret Knight - Inventor of the first Paper Bag Folding Machine
Margaret Knight (1838 – 1914) was an American inventor whose first invention was stolen by a man. She worked most of her life in a cotton mill, but in 1868 she invented a machine to fold and glue paper bags. Before applying for a patent, she needed an iron model of the machine. A man working in the machine shop stole her idea and had it patented. But, Knight filed a patent interference lawsuit and won, receiving her patent for the machine in 1871.
Her first invention was conceived when she was a girl working in the mill and witnessed an accident. She developed a device that would stop a machine when something got caught in it. She continued from there. Knight patented at least 26 different devices including the window frame and sash, a machine to cut out the soles of shoes, and devices to improve the rotary engine. Some referred to her as a “female Edison” and she was awarded the Decoration of the Royal Legion of Honour by Queen Victoria in 1871.
1879 Patent Model for Margaret Knight’s Paper Bag Machine in the Smithsonian Museum.
Badass Scientist of the Week: Ellen Swallow Richards
Ellen Swallow Richards (1842–1911) was the most prominent female American chemist of the 19th century, and a pioneer in sanitary engineering. Her family was relatively poor, so she had to work to save enough money to attend Vassar College. She earned earned a Bachelor of Science in 1870, and was most attracted to astronomy (as a pupil of Maria Mitchell) and chemistry. After being rejected by various industrial chemists, she instead applied to MIT and soon became their first female student. She received her second bachelor’s degree, then a master’s from Vassar, and continued with hopes of earning a doctorate from MIT. Although MIT would not award doctorates to women until 1886, Richards perservered, establishing a Women’s Laboratory and becoming an (unpaid) instructor in chemistry and mineralogy. When MIT opened the nation’s first laboratory of sanitary chemistry, she was appointed its instructor. Around this time, Richards also undertook a survey of the pollution Massachusetts’ water supplies, and from this the first water quality standards were born. She served as a water analyst for the State Board of Health as well as working as an instructor at MIT, and she was primarily concerned with both public health and applying scientific ideas of domestic ideas—she believed that having good nutrition, proper clothing, fitness, sanitation and efficiency would give women more time to pursue interests other than cooking and cleaning. Richards co-founded the American Association of University Women, which helps open the doors of higher education to other women even to this day, and in 1910 she was granted an honorary doctor of science degree from Vassar College. A powerful leader, a wise teacher and a tireless worker, Richards died from illness in 1911.
Powerful Child Abuse Ads
This campaign won a Gold Lion yesterday at Cannes. Via Mexico.
It pleases me that the middle mother is aggressively screaming. The first implies physical abuse, the last implies sexual, but those aren’t the only two kinds of abuse children endure, and I’m glad attention is being called to that.
I also appreciate that the ads show that women can be abusers, too. These are INCREDIBLY impactful images.
Physical, verbal, and sexual abuse.
I like how these images so eloquently illustrate the cycle of violence and progression from victim to aggressor.