Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/100

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92
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

life, and in doing so he must abandon his old habits of life and adopt those of our country. Thus, through labor an assimilation takes place. This has been the process in our Northern and Western States, which have received that great bulk of immigration during the century.


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WOMAN AS AN INVENTOR AND MANUFACTURER.[1]

THE question has been seriously raised whether woman is capable of important achievements as an inventor, and an opinion actually exists and is held in good faith by some otherwise intelligent persons that she is not. The Patent-Office records have been searched to show that woman's modern work in inventive art has been insignificant; and occasionally, when some woman's invention is announced, it is treated as something unusual and very remarkable. A perusal of Dr. O. T. Mason's narrative of Woman's Share in Primitive Culture should convince the unprejudiced reader that this is a most shallow view to take of the matter. In that book she is shown to be the earliest inventor, and is proved in numberless cases to be the author from the most ancient times of the most important inventions and those which have contributed most to human well-being.

From the primitive age when the division of duties was first made between man and woman (somewhat roughly drawn, it is true, as the rudeness of the then existing conditions compelled) but substantially along the lines it has followed among all peoples who labor, woman's ingenuity has been an important element of progress. As the food-bringer, which is the character under which Dr. Mason first presents her, "to feed the flock under her immediate care, woman had to become an inventor, and it is in this activity of her mind that she is specially interesting here. The hen scratches for her chicks all day long because Nature has furnished her hoes and rakes and cutting apparatus upon her body. But here stands a creature on the edge of time who had to create the implements of such industry." In the search for food materials she first appears as taking fruits and other parts of plants that are ready for consumption without further preparation. Next she took a stick and carrying basket and sought out roots and other parts that might be prepared by roasting or perhaps by boiling with hot stones. "On her third journey she gathered seeds of all kinds, but especially the seeds of grasses, which at

  1. Woman's Share in Primitive Culture. By Otis Tufton Mason. Anthropological Series, No. 1. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1894.