Mary Phelps Jacob was awarded a US patent in 1914 for a Brassiere that supported the breasts up from the shoulders and separated them into two individual shapes. People had experimented with making Brassieres before, but it was the idea of separating the breasts, that made her design unique. Prior to Brassieres, women’s undergarments were uncomfortable, containing whalebones and steel rods. They virtually squeezed the wearer into shape. Jacobs' design was soft, light, and conforming to the wearer’s anatomy. During WWI her bra design became popular when the U.S. government requested that women stop purchasing corsets in order to conserve metal.
Sarah E.Goode was granted a U.S. patent in 1885 for the invention of
the Foldaway Bed. The bed could be tucked-up into a cabinet while it
wasn’t in use. It made an attractive piece of furniture that could
also be used as a roll top desk or a stationary shelf.
Bibliographies speculate that Goode was born a US slave and
emancipated after the Civil War. Versions of her original bed design
are still made today.
Dr. Maria Telkes was a biophysicist who invented the first home
solar heating system. She grew up in Hungary and moved to the US in
1925. She became an American citizen after receiving her Doctorate
in physical chemistry. Telkes’ other solar-powered inventions
included a distilling system for life rafts and a solar oven.