“I invent because I cannot help it – new things just thrust themselves on me.” To the 135th anniversary of the birth of the inventor Beulah Louise Henry
Beulah Louise Henry was born on February 11, 1887 in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was destined for the laurels of a politician – fortunately, her direct descendant was the statesman Patrick Henry, and her grandfather was the governor of the state. But she found another calling for herself – she began to improve the world through her inventions.
Beulah Louise came up with 110 things and ways to improve life and patented 49 of them. She acquired the nickname Lady Edison and became the first inventor to receive fabulous fees for her ideas.
MODEL YOUR WORLD
A folding automatic umbrella, a doll that can close and open its eyes and even change their color, an ice cream machine and many other everyday things for us are the work of the inventor Beulah Louise Henry.
Her parents were very creative people – the father of the future inventor was a valuable art critic and theorist, and her mother was endowed with artistic talent.
As a child, Beulah Louise spent hours drawing in her room, completely forgetting about toys and entertainment with her peers. She modeled and built her world.
It is believed that the first sketches of inventions were drawn by Beulah when she was only nine years old. Parents, satisfied with their daughter’s hobby, provided her with all the necessary materials and encouraged the development of interests.
In the years 1909-1912, during boring monotonous lectures in college, she began to invent and fantasize with might and main. And in the 1930s, the world already recognized her name as the author of numerous technical discoveries.
ICE CREAM MACHINE
When Beulah Louise Henry was 25, she received her first patent for a vacuum ice cream freezer. Of course, even before her, great confectioners prepared ice cream.
The process of grinding cream, sugar and ice was very lengthy and required repeated stirring of the frozen product in order to get rid of micro ice floes.
In addition, such ice cream could not be stored for a very long time. All these subtleties made the dessert a delicacy available only to very wealthy customers.
Having a good knowledge of physics, the young inventor Beulah Louise Henry used a fundamental physical principle: when a gas expands, that is, flows from a small container to a large one, its temperature drops sharply.
This is the so-called Poisson’s law, formulated in 1828. So she created a vacuum in one compartment of the ice cream fridge so that the gas would flow into it, lowering the temperature in the chamber.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then resourcefulness is the father
Beulah Louise Henry
It would seem easy, but how much it simplified the work of ice cream makers and reduced the cost of the product! The patent for the vacuum refrigerator brought Beulah Louise Henry gratitude and fame. But dizzying success found her as the inventor of an umbrella with a removable cover.
1913 can be considered the heyday of fashion. It was then that Coco Chanel opened his first hat shop in Paris, and Mario Prada founded a fashion house in Milan. At this time, Lady Edison patents an umbrella with a removable cover.
The young ladies and the entire beau monde were impressed – you no longer need to spend money on new umbrellas! Removable multi-colored covers for umbrellas are becoming a hit of the season and a great way to save money. Now it is very easy to match an umbrella to both the dress and the suit.
Beulah Louise Henry sold her invention for $50,000 and becomes rich. For comparison, for $4,000 you could buy a small house at that time, and the famous Ford T car for $300.
Inspired by such success, Beulah Louise moved to New York and created her own research laboratory. In it, she spent most of her time inventing and improving everyday objects.
Her ideas were noticed by the editors of the respected scientific and technical journal Scientific American, who described the young American as an “outstanding inventor” and predicted a bright future for her. They turned out to be right.
I invent because I cannot help it – new things just thrust themselves on me
Beulah Louise Henry
She became one of the few women in the first half of the 20th century who managed to make a living from her own inventions.
The authorship of Lady Edison belongs to things familiar to us: a valve for inflatable products and a can opener, a washcloth filled with soap, and a typewriter that can make four copies.
Beulah Louise Henry led developments in various fields, improving sewing machines and automatic umbrellas. She invented a way to make lifelike dolls using rubber tubes, which greatly reduced their weight. Another Henry’s invention is the double chainstitch sewing machine, which eliminated the use of a bobbin.
She founded and managed two companies, the Henry Umbrella & Parasol Company and BL Henry Company, worked in a machine factory as an inventor, and consulted for many companies, including the Mergenthaler Linotype Company and the International Doll Company.
Almost nothing is known about her personal life – no big acquisitions, no traces in the public chronicle of those times. Beulah Louise Henry was no married and did not have children, she lived all her life in a New York hotel. But she was actively involved in the arts, supported local museums and was a member of animal protection organizations.
She died in 1976 at the age of 89. And exactly three decades later, her name took an important place in the US National Inventors Hall of Fame, next to the names of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs. Beulah Louise Henry is remembered.