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Celebrating Women in Transportation: Mary Anderson
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Celebrating Women in Transportation: Mary Anderson

March 30, 2021

First Student is proud to recognize and support Women’s History Month by bringing you the stories of women who have made contributions to the transportation industry.

Alabama native Mary Anderson (1866-1953) is credited with inventing the first operational windshield wiper.
If you have ever driven during a rain storm, you have Mary Anderson to thank for your windshield wipers.

Mary Anderson came up with the idea of a windshield wiper blade in the early 1900s while touring New York City. While riding a trolley car on a snowy day, Anderson saw drivers having to stop the vehicle, go outside and clear the front window.

This is when she conceived the idea of a lever inside the vehicle that controlled a spring-loaded arm with a rubber blade. With a counterweight, the blade could move across the windshield removing rain or snow.

When Anderson went back home to Birmingham, Alabama, she applied for and was awarded a patent in 1903 for her Window Cleaning Device.

As driving became more common, the windshield wiper was adapted for automotive use. It was Cadillac that began installing the wiper as a standard piece of equipment on its cars in 1922.

You can read more about Mary Anderson at National Inventors Hall of Fame.