WoW Blog (Woman of the Week) Blog

WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

Previous in Blog: Woman of the Week - Patricia Billings   Next in Blog: Woman of the Week - Jill Marlowe

Woman of the Week – Bessie Blount

Posted October 28, 2019 4:30 PM by lmno24

For the next few months, we’ve decided to dig into the CR4 archives and expand upon some blog posts from 2007. Back then, we published a series of lists of women inventors and now we will write full blog posts about those who have yet to be featured. Do you know of a great person to be a subject? Let us know!

Bessie Virginia Blount made significant strides in technology that helps amputees perform daily tasks.

She was born in Hickory, Virginia on November 24, 1914. Her family moved to New Jersey when she was young. She completed high school then attended Panzar College of Physical Education and later, Union Junior College. She studied to become a physical therapist.

When World War II ended, her skills were in high demand as many veterans returned home as amputees. She taught veterans new ways to complete everyday tasks. Over time, she saw that one thing veterans commonly struggled with was feeding themselves. Not only was it a crucial skill, but it helped her patients feel independent again.

She had an idea to create a tube that delivered bites of food to an individual at their own pace. The user bites on the tube and it triggers it to deliver a morsel of food through a spoon-shaped mouthpiece. The device would automatically shut down between each bite so the patient could chew. She found a Canadian company to manufacture the device, but the United States government wouldn’t pay her asking price of $100,000.

Blount’s faith helped shape her next steps. She decided to sign the rights to her invention over to the French government and it was implemented in the hospitals.

She continued to develop gadgets and inventions, mostly medical and health related items to help people in hospitals or other care. She also continued to work as a nurse where she noticed changes in her patients’ handwriting as they progressed in physical therapy.

This intrigued her so much that she turned her attention to forensics and she became a handwriting analyst. She worked with multiple police departments. In 1977 she trained and worked at the Scotland Yard in England. She was the first African American to have this opportunity.

She spent her later years running her own business using her forensic training to examine pre-Civil war papers and papers regarding slavery. She did this work until age 83.

At age 93, she began work to open a museum to commemorate her primary school which had burned down years before. She never got to finish that project, however, as she passed in 2009 at age 95.


Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: Woman of the Week - Patricia Billings   Next in Blog: Woman of the Week - Jill Marlowe