Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Margaret E Knight Inventor of the Paper Bag Machine and lots more


Margaret Eloise Knight was an inventor born on February 14th 1838 in Maine, USA. Knight started inventing when she was young, coming up with a safety device for use in cotton mills when she was just 12 years old.

She's a great choice to celebrate for Valentine's Day. Why not encourage kids to celebrate Margaret Knight's birthday and Valentine's Day by coming up with an invention?

One of Margaret Knight's best known inventions is a machine that could make flat-bottomed paper bags of the kind used in American grocery stores. Her invention meant that the bags could be produced efficiently and as a result they became hugely popular.

Interestingly, when Knight went to patent her invention she found that someone else had got there first - a man she had shown the invention too. Knight did not let him get away with it. She proved that the invention was hers and won the patent.

Knight had notebooks with her designs and witnesses who knew that the invention was hers. It was unusual for women to gain patents in their own name which makes Margaret Knight's achievements all the more impressive.

The Paper Discovery Centre has created a video that explains Knight's invention and its impact through to the modern day.


This video shows the model of the paper bag making machine that was submitted with Knight's patent application.


Knight lived from 1838-1914, a period of industrialisation and many of her inventions improved on factory machinery. She came up with a wide range of inventions and gained over 20 patents for her innovations.

Several children's books have been written about Margaret Knight's life. Her story is well worth sharing.


Margaret Knight's story is all the more amazing because of the time when she grew up.

As a girl Margaret was known as Mattie, she once wrote to a friend:

"As a child I never cared for things that girls usually do; dolls never possessed any charms for me…the only things I wanted were a jack-knife, a gimlet, and pieces of wood. My friends were horrified. I was called a tomboy; but that made little impression on me. I sighed sometimes because I was not like other girls; but wisely concluded that I couldn’t help it and sought further consolation from my tools. I was always making things for my brothers: did they want anything in the line of playthings, they always said, “Mattie will make them for us.” I was famous for my kites; and my sleds were the envy of all the boys in town" Source

A gimlet is a hand tool for boring small hole into wood.





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