Getting To Know … Beulah Louise Henry

Getting To Know … Beulah Louise Henry

Known For: Self-taught engineer, inventor

About: Born in Raleigh in 1887, Beulah Louise Henry was drawing sketches of her inventions by age 9. A direct descendant of patriot Patrick Henry and the granddaughter of North Carolina Gov. W.W. Holden, she studied at Elizabeth and Presbyterian (now Queens) Colleges in Charlotte. Henry received her first patent in 1912, for a vacuum ice cream freezer. By 1924 she was living in New York City, where she founded two companies and consulted for manufacturers. Nicknamed "Lady Edison," Henry trusted her instincts and was a savvy businesswoman. She profited from her inventions and astounded scientists and patent officials with her mechanical abilities. Her many inventions included a bobbin-less sewing machine, can opener, hair cutter, soap-filled sponge, dolls with eyes that closed and changed colors, an umbrella with detachable, snap-on covers (so owners could change covers to match their outfits), and the Protograph, a typewriter attachment which made an original and four copies without need for carbon paper. In her spare time, Henry painted, wrote and did charity work on behalf of animals. In all, she received 49 patents and was credited with more than 100 inventions by her death in 1973.

Quote: "I invent because I cannot help myself."

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