Here is a woman everyone should know about especially American Veterans. Her name is Bessie Blout and she was a highly accomplished woman. She was born in Virginia and moved to New Jersey to pursue becoming a physical therapist. Later she finished her training in Chicago.
After graduating she taught Physical Therapy at a hospital in New York, but also became an inventor of devices that were instrumental in helping soldiers who were injured (World War Two) to become independent and feed themselves.
The device was used for a soldier in a wheelchair or a bed. Each time the soldier would bite down on the tube, it would transport food one bite at a time. She later invented a smaller portable device (Portable receptacle support) that could be worn around the neck (see image below).
The United States Veteran’s Administration did not support either of her devices. She then sold them to France and gave them the patent rights in 1952. They used them for their war veterans. She wanted to show, “that a Black woman can invent something for the benefit of humankind.”
She created another helpful device that the VA also rejected and never used in their hospitals. It was the invention of a disposable cardboard emesis basin. Her item was also never patented in America so she sold it to Belgium where the basins are still being used throughout their country. American hospitals continue to use the old standard basins of 1913.
In 1969, Bessie began a career in forensic science with law enforcement, and became a chief document examiner.
In 1977, she became the first Black woman to train and work at Scotland Yard, after J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director, turned down her application.
Bessie was named as one of many notable Virginia women in history in 2005
Learn about some other Inspirational women