Tennessee’s Mothers Of Invention

It’s Mother’s Day, Tennessee! You know what that means? Yes! It means that you still have enough time to grab a card, a few gifts, and prepare not to burn breakfast. More importantly, it means that we get to celebrate just how much we love our mothers and appreciate everything they’ve done for us.

Here at Forward Beat, this means a particularly special occasion. We’re no strangers to celebrating Tennessee’s best and brightest innovators. But this Mother’s Day, we get to celebrate the most innovative mothers of all, the Mothers of Invention.

Barbara Askins

If you want to know true brilliance, look no further than Barbara Askins. A prominent chemist in her field, Askins invented a new method to enhance underexposed photograph negatives. By making the image silver more radioactive and exposing it to a second emulation to the radiation, images on developed photographs are significantly intensified. This method was used extensively by NASA and the medical field, and even earned Askins the title of National Inventor of the Year in 1978. So if you’ve had an x-ray or if you’re restoring an old photograph, you have Barbara Askins to thank.

Sandra Webster

This invention may make a lot of 5th grade math students groan, but it changed mathematics for the better forever. Sandra Webster, a math teacher, invented the right angle graphing template useful for teaching students of all grade levels mathematical concepts. Believe it or not, math haters, this subject would be a hell of a lot harder if it weren’t for Webster’s innovative invention.

Anne Dallas Dudley

While she’s not an inventor, per se, she opened a lot of doors for women all over the country. Anne Dallas Dudley, a prominent women’s activist, was the founder and first president of the Nashville suffrage league. Born in Nashville in 1876, Dudley helped lead efforts to get the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ratified, ensuring women’s right to vote in America. She is especially noted for her successful efforts to get the same Amendment ratified in her home state of Tennessee, the final state necessary to bring the Amendment into force. While she wasn’t alone in the suffrage movement, she was one of it’s stars, and is certainly an American hero.

Beulah Louise Henry

Dubbed “Lady Edison,” Beulah Louise Henry is one of America’s, neigh the world’s, most prolific inventors. With 49 patents and 110 inventions total, Henry is the penultimate Mother Of Invention. Some of her inventions include the bobbin-free sewing machine, the hair curler, the can opener, a parasol bag, and made significant improvements on the typewriter. She’s invented so many brilliant devices that Thomas Edison should probably be dubbed “Sir Louise Henry.”

These are only a few of Tennessee’s many women innovators and inventors. Nashville is quickly becoming one of America’s great hub of genius, inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurial spirit that makes America so great. Women like Askins, Dudley, Webster and Henry are precisely why Nashville is the best place in the country to grow your ideas.

In the coming years, we’ll have many more Mothers of Invention to look forward to. You can count on it.

Can’t get enough of these Mothers Of Invention? Take a look at some of the world’s most innovative women—from Chicago, to Denver, to New Haven—and how they launched our country even further into the future. Happy Mother’s Day, everyone.

Lead photo via Jason Mrachina / Flickr

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