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1. Culture

  November 4th, 2015

Mary Dixon Kies was the very first women to ever own a US patent for her process of weaving straw with silk to make hats. However, she was not the first woman to come up with a hat making process. Betsey Metcalf is said to be the first woman to come up with her own processes of hat making. Metcalf’s process was more of a braid than weaving like Kies’. The reason Metcalf decided not to apply for a patent was because technically women could not legally own property (S. 2008).

Another important woman inventor at the time was Catharine Littlefield Greene, who helped invent the Cotton Gin. History books seem to have left out this very important woman. Green hired Eli Whitney to tutor her children, it is rumored that Greene gave Whitney the idea for the Cotton Gin. It is also rumored that Greene financed the invention along with the patent Whitney applied for and the reason Greene didn’t apply for the patent was indeed because she was a woman (MacLean 2009).

During the early 1800’s Napoleon was at war with Europe and the United States wanted no part of the war. The United States decided to stop importing goods from Europe. This caused a shortage for almost everything in the United States. President Madison wanted to start domesticating products. This is when Kies found an opening in the hat weaving business. Women were in need of hats from working in the fields all day and needed protection from the sun (MacLean 2011).

Kies’ patent was destroyed in a fire in 1836, so we don’t know her exact process for weaving (MacLean 2011). She probably used a power loom to get the fabric she needed or she could have spun the straw. The Spinning Jerry was also just recently invented so she could have used that in her process. Unfortunately both the power loom and Spinning Jerry were both invented by men.


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