A look back in time
Whether it’s from watching a Jane Austen movie for the tenth time or the latest period dramas on Netflix, this is a complicated love story that historically contributed to the future of sewing (and workers rights coincidentally enough).
In 1774, a girl named Hannah Wilkinson was born to a Quaker family in Rhode Island. With a successful father in business there were large boots to fill for any suitors who came knocking as she grew up into a lady of society.
In comes Samuel Slater. For history buffs, this man was deemed as the “Father of the American Industrial Revolution” (or affectionately known in Britain as “Slater the traitor.”)
Samuel soon courted and married Hannah. With Hannah’s eyes opened to new industrial practices, she refined an entirely new process of producing sewing thread from cotton when Samuel showed her his ideas for a fabric process.
She is the first known woman in the U.S. to receive a textile patent in 1793.
Much in part to the Patent Act of 1793 that opened a wide door for anyone (and everyone) to create a patent for their original…or not so original invention. In fact, the act was so chaotic that America became known as a welcomed space for industrial pirates (and a lot of lawsuits).
While her husband does not have a rosy gold history of good deeds, Hannah on the other hand contributed to culture and society that reached far beyond her patent. In her short 37 years of life, she led a life full of activism that took care of others in the community.
The untimely loss was felt across the region as charities and women’s organizations benefited wherever her light lit up the room.
Keep an eye out for my next letter, where a tragic love story saved thousands of lives.
To honor the women inventors of history, head on over to Women Inventors Book to read more about the incredible women who contributed to the products we know and love today.