Mary Dixon Kies


Mary Kies became the first woman to receive a U.S. patent; for her technique of weaving straw with silk, the process was largely used in the creation of hats and other hardware. If you want to see Kies’ patent in person, you’re out of luck, it was destroyed in a huge fire that swept through the Patent Office in 1836, decimating approximately 10,000 patents and thousands of documents, drawings, and pending patents. Kies’ story ends sadly, too; fashions changed, and she died penniless, buried in a pauper’s grave in Brooklyn, New York.