Striding confidently down Main Street of Roanoke, Alabama, in the early 1920s, a cape flowing loosely around her, a hymn-singing parrot perched on her shoulder, Ella Gautt Smith must have cut quite an imposing figure. Most states denied patents to women until the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, yet Ella Smith accumulated eleven of them before her death in 1932. Though most of her patents were issued for innovative doll designs, a few of them described unrelated inventions whose exact uses remain a mystery, such as a washable beach shoe, a "baby navel band," and a "support for the obese."
From the Vault
Read complete classic articles and departments featured in Alabama Heritage magazine in the past 35 years of publishing. You'll find in-depth features along with quirky and fun departments that cover the people, places, and events that make our state great!