On this day in Alabama history: Inventor Mary Anderson died

On this day in Alabama history: Inventor Mary Anderson died
Greene County native Mary Anderson (1866-1953) invented the first operational windshield wiper, patented in 1903 patent but never put into production. (From Encyclopedia of Alabama, Birmingham Public Library)

June 27, 1953

Alabama native Mary Anderson died at her home in Monteagle, Tennessee on this day. Anderson was known as the inventor of a window cleaning device for electric cars, known today as the windshield wiper. Born in Greene County in 1866, Anderson created the idea for the windshield wiper after taking a trip to New York City, where she saw a trolley driver repeatedly stop to clear rain and snow from the windshield. Anderson’s design involved a lever inside the vehicle used to control the wiper on the outside of the vehicle. The design was patented Nov. 10, 1903. She tried to shop around the device, but it was never taken on by a company, although it is similar to the windshield wiper found on many early cars. Anderson died at the age of 87, and was inducted posthumously into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2011.

Learn more at the Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

Related Stories