Mothers of Invention: Mary Anderson (Windshield Wiper)

mary_anderson_picWintry and snowy weather is upon us early this year and one of the most essential devices in our cars is the windshield wiper.  Alabama-born Mary Anderson was visiting New York City in 1902.  The weather was sloppy and wet and trolley car drivers had to keep the windshield down, letting the cold and blustery weather in to the discomfort of driver and passengers alike.

She wondered if there might be a solution and began to sketch a design while still on the trolley.  She returned home and after several attempts finally came up with a workable device – the wiper arms were made of wood and rubber attached to a lever near the steering wheel of the vehicle.  Pulling the lever would move the arm back and forth in a fan shape and clear away rain or snow.

NOTE: This article is being re-purposed and will be included in a special edition of Digging History Magazine. Digging History is now a monthly digital (PDF) magazine.  This article will be included in a future edition of Digging History Magazine. Check out the latest issue here: or try a subscription here.

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