Connecticut Invention of the Day: “Turning Darkness into Light”


Sure, October is a beautiful month in some respects. The blazing colors of fall foliage. The crisp, clear air, devoid of humidity. But then there’s a darker side to October…….namely the sun setting earlier and earlier, denying us of the sun’s rays after school and work. Then the worst day of all, a day I think that should be considered a National Day of Mourning….The End of Daylight Saving, which occurs this year on November 3rd. I get depressed just thinking about it.

I complain yearly about this (to the consternation of my wife) mainly because I just love to be outdoors in the light of day. And I hate winter….but that’s another story. Imagine living and working before the days of electric lights. Squinting to see whatever project or job you are working on. As the sun goes down earlier and earlier it got harder and harder to see. As our world got more industrialized and mechanized this could be quite dangerous. Ever try to use a drill press, lathe, weaving machine or sewing machine in darkness? If it was your job or your family needed it you just dealt with it and hoped for the best. Or you tried to invent a solution to the problem.

Here’s a solution, a Connecticut invention, that aimed to solve the problem of using in this case a sewing machine under limited light. Mary E. Smith of Southbury patented this “Lamp Supporting Bracket for Sewing Machines” in 1883. In her application she notes that “In the use of sewing machines in the nighttime a difficulty has always been experienced in using a light to properly light the work because of want of room on the sewing machine table to receive a lamp or burner, and the insecurity of a lamp standing on the table, subject as it is to continual jarring and the danger of it being knocked off or upset.”

Mary E. Smith, a Connecticut inventor “turning darkness into light”……




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