Mary Anderson, Inventor, The Windshield Wiper

Women and Adversity:
Mary Anderson
 Inventor –Windshield Wiper

Here is another story about a woman who was deprived of recognition for her invention because no company believed it was relevant. The windshield wiper!

It is said that in 1902 Mary Elizabeth Anderson was in a streetcar on a snowy day in New York. She noticed the conductor would use his hand to remove the snow from the window. He would get himself full of snow as well.

Anderson sketched a design for a wiper blade that could be activated from inside the vehicle. She filed a patent for her design on June 18,1903, and on November 10 was awarded a patent for “Window Cleaning Device.” Companies didn’t believe it was useful. After all, few people owned cars at the turn of the century, and Henry Ford didn’t sell the Model T until 1908. Anderson’s patent expired in 1920. In 1922 Cadillac built cars with windshield wipers as a standard feature.


1866 – Born February 19 on Burton Hill Plantation in Greene County, Alabama
1870 – Her father passed away but the family had enough money to stay on the plantation
1889 –  She and her mother Rebecca, her sister Fannie moved to Birmingham and built the
             Fairmont Apartments
1893  – Went to Fresno, California to operate a cattle ranch and vineyard
1900  – Returned to Birmingham to help care for her ill aunt
2011 –  Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame

Anderson died at the family’s summer home in Monteagle, Tennessee June 27, 1953 at the age of 87.
There is no record of her schooling, a husband or children.

More Information:

 My ebooks available at and
Honoring 23 Black Women, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists

Article By: Jo Ann Mathews

I published three ebooks in 2020: Women and Adversity, Honoring 23 Black Women; Women and Adversity, Recognizing 23 Notable Mothers; and Women and Adversity, Saluting 23 Faithful Suffragists to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. These books are meant to be study guides for all students from grade school through college to help in choosing topics for assignments and to learn more about these noteworthy women. Go to, and to learn more.

    Write a Reply or Comment About This Article

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Time limit exceeded. Please complete the captcha once again.


    Subscribe to Blog via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 219 other subscribers

    Discover more from Jo Ann Mathews

    Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

    Continue reading