Inventors are inspirational. Margaret Knight was an inventor and factory worker. She is remembered as “the most famous 19th-century woman inventor” and a “woman Edison”. She invented a machine that folded and glued paper to make flat bottomed brown paper bags, as well as other inventions. Her bags, and her therefore invention of the machine design, are still what shoppers know today.
Margaret E. Knight was born on February 14, 1838 in York, Maine. She attended school until after her father, James Knight, died. She then went to work, at 12 years old, in a cotton mill. Her first invention idea came when she witnessed an accident with a shuttle flying off a machine and hitting a co-worker. The invention was a device that would automatically stop the machine when needed. She later lived in Springfield, Massachusetts and worked in a factory that produced bags that were “envelope-like”. Knight realized the usefulness of a flat bottomed bag. She built a wooden model, but needed an iron model for a patent. While working to have this built her design was stolen by Charles Annan and he patented it. When Knight learned what he had done, she filed a patent interference lawsuit. She offered proof the invention was hers and won the patent in 1871. With a businessman Knight founded the Eastern Paper Bag Co.
Margaret Knight continued to invent. She received one of the first female patents and went on to receive over twenty more. In 1871, she was awarded the Declaration of the Royal Legion of Honour by Queen Victoria. Her inventions included a numbering machine, a window frame and sash, and devices related to rotary engines. She died in 1914. Her original bag-making machine was put in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. In 2006, Margaret Knight was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Her work and inventions were groundbreaking for a woman at this time in history. She was and is inspiring. Be inspired! Have a bright day!