Skip Navigation Links  The Library of Congress >> Especially for Researchers >> Research Centers
ScienceReference Services (Science, Technology, and Business Division)
  Home >> Science Reference Guides

Science Reference Guides

Women of Invention:
Women Inventors and Patent Holders

Science Reference Section
Science, Technology and Business Division
Library of Congress

Photo: Hedy Lamarr, wearing a large hat.
Screen actress Hedy Lamarr, co-invented a "Secret Communications System" to prevent classified messages from being intercepted by enemy personnel. This "spread spectrum" technology was the precursor used for cellular telephones. Photo from the Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.

General Works

Altman, Linda Jacobs. Women inventors. New York, Facts On File, 1997. 118 p. (American profiles)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   T39.A54 1997

Blashfield, Jean F. Women inventors. Minneapolis, Capstone Press, c1996. 4 v.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Contents: 1. Margaret Knight, Cynthia Westover, Elizabeth Hazen and Rachel Brown, Ruth Handler -- 2. Amanda Jones, Mary Anderson, Bette Nesmith Graham, Dr. Ruth Benerito, Becky Schroeder -- 3. Catherine Greene, Madame C.J. Walker, Harriet Hosmer, Yvonne Brill, Nancy Perkins -- 4. Sybilla Masters, Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner and Mildred Davidson Austin Smith, Stephanie Kwolek, Frances Gabe.
   T39.B53 1996

Braun, Sandra. Incredible women inventors. Toronto, Second Story Press, 2007. 112 p. (The women's hall of fame series)
   Bibliography: p. 107-110.
   T39.B73 2007

Buttons to biotech: 1996 update report with supplemental data through 1998. U. S. patenting by women, 1977 to 1996. Washington, U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Patent and Trademark Office, Office for Patent and Trademark Information, Technology Assessment and Forecast Program, 1999. 17 p.
   URL: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/wom_98.pdf

Camp, Carole Ann. American women inventors. Berkeley Heights, NJ, Enslow Publishers, c2004. 104 p. (Collective biographies)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Summary: Ten biographies of American women inventors, including Madam C.J. Walker, Lillian Gilbreth, Beulah Henry, Elizabeth Lee Hazen, Rachel Fuller Brown, Katherine Blodgett, Gertrude B. Elion, Stephanie Louise Kwolek, Edith Flanigen, and Ellen Ochoa.
   T39.C36 2004

Casey, Susan (Susan Mary). Women invent: two centuries of discoveries that have shaped our world. Chicago, Chicago Review Press, c1997. 142 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Summary: Uses short biographies of women inventors around the world to demonstrate how inventions come about.
   T39.C38 1997 <SciRR>

Currie, Stephen. Women inventors. San Diego, CA, Lucent Books, c2001. 96 p. (History makers)
   Bibliography: p. 89-91.
   Contents: Temple Grandin -- Madame Walker -- Rose O’Neill -- Grace Hopper -- Margaret Knight.
   T39.C87 2001

Derieux, Mary, ed. One hundred great lives, revealing biographies of scientists and inventors, leaders and reformers, writers and poets, artists and musicians, discoverers and explorers, soldiers and statesmen [and] great women. Ed. by John Allen [pseud.]. New York, Journal of Living Pub. Corp., 1944. 790 p.
   CT104.D4 1944

Dynamos and virgins revisited: women and technological change in history. Edited by Martha Moore Trescott. Metuchen, NJ, Scarecrow Press, 1979. 180 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   HQ1154.D95

Gage, Matilda Joslyn. Woman as inventor. Issued under the auspices of the New York State Woman Suffrage Association. Fayetteville, NY, F.A. Darling, Printer, 1870. 32 p. (Woman suffrage tracts, no. 1)
   A digital reproduction is available from the Open Collections Program at Harvard University, Women and work collection.
   URL: http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/ww/outsidelink.html/http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:fhcl:453551
   HQ1397.G3

Hathaway, Esse V. (Esse Virginia). Partners in progress. New York, London, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1935. 303 p.
   Bibliography: p. 293-295.
   CB151.H35

Jaffé, Deborah. Ingenious women: from tincture of saffron to flying machines. Stroud, Sutton, 2004. 210 p.
   Bibliography: p. 201-205.
   T36.J34 2004

Jeffries, Michael, and Gary A. Lewis. Inventors and inventions. New York, Smithmark Publishers, 1992. 64 p. (Facts America)
   Bibliography: p. 64.
   Summary: Discusses the accomplishments of men and women who have given us important inventions in such areas as industry and commerce, weapons and warfare, and communication.
   T21.J44 1992

Karnes, Frances A., and Suzanne M. Bean. Girls & young women inventing: twenty true stories about inventors plus how you can be one yourself. Edited by Rosemary Wallner. Minneapolis, Free Spirit Pub., c1995. 168 p.
   Bibliography: p. 157-161.
   Summary: Examines twenty young female inventors and their creations, from Jennifer Donabar and her electric lock to Jeanie Low and her kiddie stool.
   T39.K37 1995

Khan, B. Zorina. The democratization of invention: patents and copyrights in American economic development, 1790-1920. Cambridge, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2005. 322 p. (NBER series on long-term factors in economic development)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Contents: The patent system in Europe and America -- Patent laws and litigation -- Democratization and patented inventions -- Women inventors in America -- Patentees and married women’s property rights -- Great inventors and democratic invention -- Copyright in Europe and America -- American copyright piracy -- Intellectual property and economic development
   KF2979.K48 2005

Macdonald, Anne L. Feminine ingenuity: women and invention in America. New York, Ballantine Books, 1992. 514 p.
   Bibliography: p. 445-491.
   T36.M33 1992 <SciRR>

Marovich, Lisa Anne. Fueling the fires of genius: women's inventive activities in American war eras. University of California, Los Angeles, 1998. 570 p.
   UMI Microfiche AAT 9906107
   Thesis (doctoral)--University of California, Los Angeles,1998.

McClure, Judy. Theoreticians and builders: mathematicians, physical scientists, inventors. Austin, Raintree Steck-Vaughn, c2000. 80 p. (Remarkable women)
   Q141.M3575 2000

Pilato, Denise E. The retrieval of a legacy: nineteenth-century American women inventors. Westport, CT, Praeger, 2000. 200 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   T36.P55 2000 <SciRR>

Reed, Jennifer. Amazing American women inventors: eight ingenious lives. Berkeley Heights, NJ, Enslow Publishers, 2008. 128 p. (Great scientists and famous inventors)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   T39.R44 2008
   Not yet in LC.

Showell, Ellen Harvey, and Fred M. B. Amram. From Indian corn to outer space: women invent in America. Peterborough, NH, Cobblestone Publishing, c1995. 160 p.
   Summary: An examination of women from American history and present times who have invented, and a motivation for students to enhance creativity and achieve their dreams.
   HQ1397.S56 1995 Overflow

Sluby, Patricia Carter. Creativity and inventions: the genius of Afro-Americans and women in the United States and their patents. Arlington, VA, Research Unlimited, 1987. 88 p.
   Bibliography: p. 81-86.
   T21.I84 1987 <SciRR>

Stanley, Autumn. Mothers and daughters of invention: notes for a revised history of technology. Metuchen, NJ, Scarecrow Press, 1993. 1116 p.
   Bibliography: p. 917-1041.
   1995 edition not in LC collection.
   T36.S73 1993 <SciRR>

Sullivan, Otha Richard. African American women scientists and inventors. Jim Haskins, general editor. New York, Wiley, c2002. 150 p. (Black stars)
   Bibliography: p. 143.
   T39.S985 2002

Thimmesh, Catherine. Girls think of everything: stories of ingenious inventions by women. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 2000. 57 p.
   Bibliography: p. 54-56.
   Summary: Tells the story of how women throughout the ages have responded to situations confronting them in daily life by inventing such items as correction fluid, space helmets, and disposable diapers.
   T39.T48 2000

Vare, Ethlie Ann, and Greg Ptacek. Mothers of invention: from the bra to the bomb: forgotten women & their unforgettable ideas. New York, Quill, 1989. 256 p.
   Continued by Patently female.
   T36.V36 1989 <SciRR>

Vare, Ethlie Ann, and Greg Ptacek. Patently female: from AZT to TV dinners: stories of women inventors and their breakthrough ideas. New York, Wiley, c2002. 220 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   T36.V38 2002 <SciRR>

Vare, Ethlie Ann, and Greg Ptacek. Women inventors & their discoveries. Minneapolis, Oliver Press, c1993. 160 p. (Profiles)
   Bibliography: p. 149-150.
   Summary: Surveys the lives and work of such innovative women as Grace Hopper, Fannie Farmer, C. J. Walker, and Stephanie Kwolek.
   T39.V37 1993

Women in engineering. Pioneers and trailblazers. Margaret E. Layne, editor. Reston, VA, American Society of Civil Engineers, c2009.
   Not yet published (CIP).
   TA157.W674 2009

Women, technology, and innovation. Edited by Joan Rothschild. Oxford, New York, Pergamon Press, 1982. p. 289-382.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Contents: Daughters of Isis, daughters of Demeter / Autumn Stanley -- Women and technology in ancient Alexandria / Margaret Alic -- The machine in Utopia / Helen Deiss Irvin -- Women and microelectronics / Erik Arnold, Lynda Birke, and Wendy Faulkner -- The culture of engineering / Sally L. Hacker -- Technology and the future of women / Jan Zimmerman -- Teaching and learning about women and technology / Joan Rothschild -- Feminist pedagogy and technology / Ynestra King -- A preview of AAUW’s biennial study/action project "Taking hold of technology" / Corlann Gee Bush -- Teaching women and technology at the University of Washington / Christine Bose, Philip Bereano, and Ivy Durslag -- Women and Technology Project, Missoula, Montana.
Published also as v. 4, no. 3 of Women’s studies international quarterly.
   T36.W65 1982

Zierdt-Warshaw, Linda, Alan Winkler, and Leonard Bernstein. American women in technology: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA, ABC-CLIO, c2000. 384 p.
   Includes bibliographical references.
   T36.Z54 2000 <SciRR>

TOP OF PAGE

Early Works and Compilations

Hanaford, Phebe A. Daughters of America, or women of the century. Augusta, ME, True and Co., 1883. Boston, B.B. Russell, 1882.
   See especially: Chapter XX: Women inventors, p. 546-559.
   URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=cJCCoFLIU5kC&pg=RA2-PA526&dq=%22women+ of+the+century%22+1877&ei=y7FTSqDvBqr0ygTGj4GoBw
   JK1881.N357 sec. VIII, sub. 1, no. 19 NAWSA Coll <Rare Books>

Knight, Kate Brannon. History of the work of Connecticut women at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Hartford, Hartford Press, 1898. 171 p.
   A digital reproduction is available from the Open Collections Program at Harvard University, Women and work collection.
   See especially: Chapter VI: Exhibits and inventions of women, p. 124-130.
   URL: http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/2582251
   HQ1438.C8A4

Logan, John A., Mrs. The part taken by women in American history. Wilmington, DE, The Perry-Nalle Publishing Co., 1912. 927 p.
   See especially: Inventors, p. 882-889.
   URL: http://books.google.com/books?id=hnIEAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Part+ Taken+by+Women+in+American+History+By+Mary+Simmerson+Cunningham+Logan
   E176.L83

Morgan, Horace H. (Horace Hills). The historical World's Columbian Exposition and Chicago guide. St. Louis, Pacific Pub. Co., 1892. 416 p.
   See especially: Chapter XIV, Inventions patented by women, p. 81-82; Chapter IV, Missouri and her women inventors, p. 82-94.
   URL: http://www.google.com/books?id=G-ZNAAAAMAAJ
   T500.A2 M8

Mozans, H. J. Women as inventors. In his Woman in science: with an introductory chapter on woman's long struggle for things of the mind. New York, Appleton, 1913. p. 334-355.
   HQ1397.Z3

Smith, Charlotte, editor. The Woman inventor. Washington, DC. April and June 1891.
   Short-lived journal publication. Holdings at Smithsonian and Harvard University.

United States. Patent Office. Women inventors to whom patents have been granted... 1790-1888 [and Appendix no. 1-2, 1888-1895]. [n.p.] 1888-1895. 3 v. in 1.
   Not in LC.
   URL: http://staff.lib.muohio.edu/shocker/FemInv/Women/
   T223.C 1888

United States. Women's Bureau. Women's contributions in the field of invention; a study of the records of the United States Patent Office. Washington, Govt. Print. Off., 1923. 51 p. (Bulletin of the Women's Bureau, no. 28)
   A digital reproduction is available from the Open Collections Program at Harvard University, Women and work collection.
   URL: http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/2586395
   HD6093.A53 no. 28

TOP OF PAGE

Journal Articles

Amram, Fred. The innovative woman. New scientist, v. 102, May 24,1984: 10-12.
   Q1.N52

Davis, Lenwood. Lest we forget: women inventors. Tar heel junior historian, v. 46, fall 2006.
   F251.N84
   URL: http://www.ncmuseumofhistory.org/collateral/articles/f06.lest.we.forget.women.inventors.pdf

Hiestand, Wanda C. CE credit: think different: inventions and innovations by nurses, 1850 to 1950. American journal of nursing, v. 100, Oct. 2000: 72-77.
   RT1.A5

Khan, B. Zorina. Married women's property laws and female commercial activity: evidence from United States patent records, 1790-1895. Journal of economic history, v. 56, June 1996: 356-388.
   HC10.J64
   "Papers Presented at the Fifty-Fifth Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association."

Khan, B. Zorina. "Not for ornament": patenting activity by nineteenth-century women inventors. Journal of interdisciplinary history, v. 31, autumn 2000: 159-195.
   D1.J59

Marovich, Lisa A. Fueling the fires of genius: women's inventive activities in american war eras. Journal of economic history, v. 59, June 1999: 462-466.
   HC10.J64

Merritt, Deborah J. Hypatia in the Patent Office: women inventors and the law, 1865-1900. American journal of legal history, v. 35, July 1991: 235-306.
   K1.M4452

Pursell, Carroll. Women inventors in America. Technology and culture, v. 22, July 1981: 545-549.
   T1.T27

Whittington, Kjersten Bunker and Laurel Smith-Doerr. Women inventors in context: disparities in patenting across academia and industry. Gender & society, v. 22, Apr. 2008: 194-218.
   HQ1075 .G457
   URL: http://academic.reed.edu/sociology/faculty/whittington/Whittington_SmithDoerr_G&S.pdf

TOP OF PAGE

Works About Individual Inventors

For works about individual inventors look under the name of the inventor as a subject heading, e.g. Walker, C. J. Madam; Knight, Margaret.

Brill, Marlene Targ. Margaret Knight: girl inventor. Brookfield, CT, Millbrook Press, c2001. 1 v. (unpaged)
   Summary: Describes how Mattie Knight developed her first invention, a stop-motion device to make looms safer for workers.
   T40.K55B75 2001

Cefrey, Holly. The inventions of Amanda Jones: the vacuum method of canning and food preservation. New York, PowerKids Press, 2003. 24 p. (Reading power) (19th century American inventors)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   Summary: A brief biography of the woman who helped come up with a better way to can fruits and vegetables.
   TX603.C385 2003

Cefrey, Holly. The inventions of Martha Coston: signal flares that saved sailors' lives. New York, PowerKids Press, 2003. 24 p. (Reading power) (19th century American inventors)
   Bibliography: p. 23.
   Summary: Chronicles the work of Martha Coston to perfect and market signal flares to the U.S. Navy and abroad.
   VK140.C674C44 2003

Gaines, Ann. Hedy Lamarr. Vero Beach, FL, Rourke Pub., c2002. 24 p. (Discover the life of an inventor)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   TK5102.56.L35G34 2001

McCully, Emily Arnold. Marvelous Mattie: how Margaret E. Knight became an inventor. New York, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2006. 1 v. (unpaged)
   Includes bibliographic references.
   T40.K55M37 2006

Murphy, Patricia J. Grace Hopper: computer whiz. Berkeley Heights, NJ, Enslow Publishers, 2004. 32 p. (Famous inventors)
   Bibliography: p. 31.
   V63.H66M87 2004

Nichols, Catherine. Madam C.J. Walker. New York, Children's Press, c2005. 24 p. (Scholastic news nonfiction readers)
   Includes bibliographical references.
   HD9970.5.C672W357 2005

St. Pierre, Stephanie. Gertrude Elion: master chemist. Vero Beach, FL, Rourke Enterprises, 1993. 48 p. (Masters of invention)
   Bibliography: p. 46.
   Summary: A biography of the chemist who, in recognition of her important discoveries and inventions, was the first woman inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991.
   RS403.S74 1993

Venezia, Mike. Lise Meitner: had the right vision about nuclear fission. New York, Children's Press, c2010. (Getting to know the world's greatest inventors and scientists)
   Not yet published (CIP).
   QC774.M4V46 2010

Venezia, Mike. Marie Curie: scientist who made glowing discoveries. New York, Children's Press, 2009. 32 p. (Getting to know the world's greatest inventors and scientists)
   QD22.C8V46 2009

Wyckoff, Edwin Brit. Stopping bullets with a thread: Stephanie Kwolek and her incredible invention. Berkeley Heights, NJ, Enslow, c2008. 32 p.; col. ill. (Genius at work! Great inventor biographies)
   Bibliography: p. 31.
   Summary: Biography of the woman chemist who invented Kevlar, a super strong fiber used to make, among other things, bullet-resistent vests.
   TS1440.K96W93 2008

TOP OF PAGE

Selected Internet Resources

Distinguished Women of Past and Present : Invention
   URL: www.distinguishedwomen.com/subject/invention.html
   Created by Danuta Bois, this website provides a directory of websites and some brief biographies of famous women inventors.

Enchanted Learning
   URL: www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/women.shtml
   Women Inventors - A Sampling of Women Inventors and Their Inventions.

Exploring the History of Women Inventors
   URL: invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/womeninventors.html
   Some historians have given us a picture of women inventors in the 19th century as a group that faced and often overcame significant hurdles to achieve their goals. Compiled by the Smithsonian.

Famous Women Inventors
   URL: inventors.about.com/cs/womeninventors/
   Learn about women inventors inventing in traditionally male fields and why women are a minority of patent holders and how that is rapidly changing.

Famous Women Inventors: Exploring the Contributions of 20th Century Women Inventors
   URL: www.women-inventors.com
   Throughout the 20th century, and now into the 21st, famous women inventors have played a vital role in the world of innovation. In fact, women have become increasingly prevalent in the field and are responsible for many momentous advances.

Female Frontiers
   URL: www.quest.arc.nasa.gov/space/frontiers/activities/womanswork/chart.html
   Female Frontiers is a Sharing NASA project. These online resources are provided by NASA's Quest team located at the NASA Ames Research Center. The Quest Project, NASA's K-12 Internet Initiative, is supported by the NASA Learning Technologies Project (formerly IITA) of NASA's Office of High Performance Computing and Communications.

Female Inventors
   URL: www.inventions.org/culture/female/index.html
   Because female inventors are under-recognized for their accomplishments, we are featuring biographical sketches of these famous women including what they invented, how they conceived the idea and what developments have taken place since the original invention.

Illinois African American Women Inventors: 1885-2004.
   URL: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/library/what_we_have/pdfs/african-americanwomen-inventors.pdf

Innovative Lives
   URL: http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/

National Women's Hall of Fame
   URL: www.greatwomen.org/home.php
   The Hall is a shrine to some of the greatest women in the history of this country and a tribute that grows annually with each induction ceremony as we learn to appreciate more about the wonderful contributions that women make to our civilization.

Patents Held By Women
   URL: http://www.asme.org/Communities/History/Resources/Patents_Held_by_Women.cfm
   A brief listing. Having contributed to the industrial development of the nation, women hold patents in a wide range of fields. Listed below are some of the patents held by women inventors in the United States. From the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Patents Issued to Wyoming Women
   URL: http://will.state.wy.us/sis/ptdl/women.html

Women as Inventors
   URL: www.armchair.com/warp/win.html
   This article on woman inventors is part of a patent manual written by Fred Dieterich in 1899.

Women in the National Inventors Hall of Fame
   URL: http://membership.acs.org/S/Sdiego/2008_presentations/CGalloway_Sep2008.pdf

Women Inventors
   URL: www.uah.edu/colleges/liberal/womensstudies/inventor.html
   Presented to the Society of Women Engineers, Huntsville chapter, on March 4, 1999, for Women's History Month by Susan Davis Herring.

Women Inventors
   URL: http://invention.smithsonian.org/centerpieces/ilives/womeninventors.html
   Sybilla Masters is often called the first woman inventor in the American colonies. In 1715, the English courts awarded a patent--albeit, to her husband Thomas--for a method of making cornmeal from maize--"a new invention," the patent clearly stated, "found out by Sybilla his wife." Still, by 1910, inventions by women accounted for less than 1% of all patents issued in the United States. From the "Lady Edisons" by J.E. Bedi for the Smithsonian Institution.

Women Inventors Index, 1790-1895
   URL: http://staff.lib.muohio.edu/~shocker/FemInv/
   Database based on Women Inventors to whom Patents have been Granted by the United States Government, 1790-1895.

General

Confederate Patent Office - List of All Known Patents Issued
   URL: http://www.myoutbox.net/popchapx.htm

Google Patents
   URL: http://www.google.com/patents
   You can search by name (try common female names (e.g. Margaret, Marie, etc.), mrs., or executrix to find women who were in the patent process as executors of estates).

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
   URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/

Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Science Reference Guides
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
   July 22, 2015
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us:  
Ask a Librarian