USPTO highlights trailblazing women inventors in collectible cards
A blog about the USPTO by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In honor of Women’s History Month, and as part of our efforts to protect and promote the ingenuity of American inventors and entrepreneurs, we are proud to share some inspiring stories of notable women innovators who have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, economy, and way of life.
We highlight these incredible leaders in many ways, but one of the most popular channels is through our Inventor Collectible Card Series, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2022.
Launched by the USPTO's Office of Education in 2012, the cards feature colorful portraits of various inventors from diverse backgrounds and demographics and were developed to encourage and inspire future generations of innovators from all walks of life. The images are illustrated by USPTO graphic artists, with new cards released and distributed periodically. Popular among students as a “cool collector’s item,” the agency mailed the cards directly to schools and youth-serving organizations in an effort to keep kids connected and inspired during the pandemic.
Here are a few trailblazing women featured in the USPTO collectible card series, and their exceptional accomplishments:
Marian Croak, Ph.D., developed inventions that made phone calls more reliably and securely transmittable over the internet. She is a pioneer in the advancement of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Dr. Croak is a technology team leader, mentor, and mother of three, who holds over 200 patents. She inspires others through her commitment to innovation, leadership, and service. She will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) this year.
Helen Murray Free and her husband Alfred Free developed the first dip-and-read test strips for use in diagnostic testing. Their work revolutionized the field of urinalysis and led to many self-testing systems for people with diabetes. Free held numerous patents, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation (NMTI) (the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement), was inducted to the NIHF, and was a champion of STEM education until her death in 2021 at the age of 98.
Joyce Ward, director of the USPTO’s Office of Education, and Molly Kocialski, director of the USPTO’s Rocky Mountain Regional Office, presented Temple Grandin with her USPTO inventor collectible card in Denver, Colorado on April 3, 2016. (Photo by Unsu Jung/USPTO)
Temple Grandin is an inventor, professor, author, inspirational speaker, and an important champion for the humane treatment of livestock. A professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University and a leading advocate for the disabled community, Grandin holds a patent for farm-handling equipment, including a system that prevents animals from being hurt and help keep them calm during inoculation.
Beulah Henry was a prolific inventor with 49 U.S. patents and over 100 inventions credited to her name. She received her first patent at the age of 25 for a vacuum-sealed ice cream freezer. A successful entrepreneur, her numerous inventions included improvements to sewing machines, typewriters, cash registers, umbrellas, dolls, and toys. On April 1, the USPTO will unveil its newest Journeys of Innovation story about Beulah Henry at www.uspto.gov.
Stephanie Kwolek invented poly-paraphenylene terephtalamide, a polymer material that is five times stronger than steel, while working as one of DuPont’s first female research chemists. The material, marketed worldwide under DuPont’s Kevlar® brand, has many applications ranging from bicycle tires and racing sails to vests used by police and military personnel. During her lifetime, she was honored with the NMTI and inducted into the NIHF. Dupont had sold one million Kevlar vests by the time of her death in 2014.
Ellen Ochoa, a veteran of three NASA Space Shuttle flight missions and the first Hispanic-American woman in space, is a co-inventor on three patents: an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method for noise removal in images. Her inventions significantly increased the ability to capture and analyze finely detailed imagery, with applications in space and on Earth.
The USPTO’s Inventor Collectible Card Series shows the many faces of U.S. patent holders—both contemporary and historic. The cards personalize inventors and invention, help tell inventors’ stories, and inspire young people to see themselves as creative problem-solvers capable of inventing their own future. Requests for USPTO trading cards can be sent to email@example.com. You can also view the entire collection on the kids pages of the USPTO website.