Amazing Women Who Inspire Us: Zina Nicole Lahr and Margaret E. Knight.

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Zina Nicole Lahr

It is never fair when you hear stories about the unexpected death of someone, especially someone who is so young. Today is the 1st year anniversary of the untimely accidental death of Zina Nicole Lahr. No one quite knows how she died, except that it is believed that it happened on a hiking walk. She suffered a severe head injury likely from the force of a rockfall. I came across Zina’s story last year when she came to the sudden attention of the world through a short video that surfaced online of her creative output as an animatronics and stop motion whiz. Her eccentric creations and vision appealed directly to tens of thousands of fans worldwide, including this blogger ! Where does a person like that come from ? What makes them different from us ? I cannot answer that question except to say that maybe there is a little bit of Zina in all of us, though we all choose to shut that part of us out as we get older. Some people find her eccentricity and openness too good to be true, I put that down to people’s jealousy. If you scroll online about stories on Zina, you will realise that there are two camps: those who marvel at her talent and free spirit and those that put her down as simply weird. To the pessimistic few, I say shame on you. Have you forgotten what it is like to be imaginative and have a wonderful sense of wonder ? To me, Zina ignite my belief in people and my resolve to dare to dream. Its one of the reasons why I probably write this blog ? Nevertheless, I have said enough. The following video is a glimpse inside the world of this wonderful young women. A truly inspiring amazing young women. Zina was only 23 years of age.

 

 

Margaret E. Knight

When the industrial revolution burst onto the scene in the middle of the eighteenth century, men dominated the workplace and created the machines and know-how needed to thrust manufacturing into the modern age. This is of course a very stereotypical view of workplace progress unfortunately it is true. Little, if anything, is said about the amazing women who contributed to its progress, but that was all about to change by the middle of the 1850’s when a very young Margaret E. Knight at the age of twelve reportedly made her first invention. She invented a covered shuttle to protect workers from injury to stop spindles flying of its moorings. Unfortunately, she never thought to patent the idea (who would at twelve anyway) and the opportunity was lost as mill companies used her invention without much thought to the brilliance of this twelve-year-old. With this amazing knack for invention, her parents allowed her to pursue different ideas. It wasn’t until at the age of thirty in 1870, that Margaret applied for her first patent for inventing a machine that folded and glued paper to create a flat-bottomed brown paper bag. The moment was almost lost when a man by the name of Charles Annan decided to steal her idea and patent it for himself. She took him to court, where he first argued that no women could possibly have built such a complex machine, but he was wrong. She successfully proved to the court that she was the machine’s inventor by showing the court the wooden prototype she made and explained how each component of the machine worked.

Dubbed “the female Edison” Margaret would invent a number of other machines and devices, in all being credited with some 27 patents. She unfortunately, according to some sources, didn’t profit much from her inventions. Nonetheless, we have a lot to thank her for showing the world that both men and women can be equally inventive.

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The header image is courtesy of the Lahr family. I am unsure of its copyright status, though it appears to be in the public domain. If not, I make use of it under the fair use rationale to pay tribute to a wonderful young women.

 

 



Categories: Women's history

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3 replies

  1. You know, I saw this video last year and had never heard of this woman before. She is remarkable and you are right, such a sad loss. xo LMA

  2. Zina’s was such a brief glimmer of light, but what beauty! Thnx so much for sharing!

  3. Remarkable women, Rob. I particularly loved Zina’s designs and her determination to be herself. What a loss.

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