Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vacuum Canning: Inventions by Women A-Z

Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835-1914)
Amanda Theodosia Jones was one of twelve children born to Henry and Mary Mott Jones of East Bloomfield, New York. They were a book-loving family, Amanda later wrote in her autobiography (1910). "Books were more necessary than daily bread to our parents," and by the age of 15 she was teaching school.  

Amanda was also into spiritualism, as were many in her time during the 1850s. She began hearing a spirit voice at the age of eight, and through dreams, visions and voices, the spirits guided her throughout her life. As a spiritualist, she believed that spirits of the dead could communicate with the living....usually through a medium, and Amanda was considered a medium. Guided by a prophetic dream, she decided to move to Chicago in 1869, where she became a magazine editor, including one for children, and began writing poetry. By 1870 she had published two books of poetry.

Also interested in inventions, one day she awoke from a nap with an amazing idea for one, only this idea, she wrote in her autobiography, was hers alone. Whether the idea came from her spirit muse has been debated, since Amanda did after all credit so many events in her life with guidance from the spirits. One source claims she was advised by the spirit of her dead brother that a better way to preserve fruit existed. Nevertheless, the idea was valid and Amanda asked the help of a college professor (Leroy C. Cooley) to test her idea. In her book she wrote, "I see how fruit can be canned without cooking it. The air must be exhausted from the cells and fluid made to take its place. The fluid must be airless also--a light syrup of sugar and water--that, or the juice of fruit." This was different from the canning method of Nicolas-Francois Appert (1810), which required the food be well cooked, and resulted in loss of flavor. 

Antique Canning Jars

After some experimentation, they managed to seal the canning jars by raising the internal temperature to 120 degrees F. The fruit expanded (but was still uncooked) and air was forced out of the jar. Amanda applied for a patent, seven total in 1873, and to Professor Cooley's credit, he left the honor entirely to Amanda. His name was not on the patent. They called the vacuum canning process the Jones process, and also the Pure Food Vacuum Preserving Process. It became the standard method used in the United States.
Diagram of the fruit jar in patent 1873
Unrelated, Amanda also invented a safety valve to control the amount of oil used in burners, which was patented as a Safety Burner in 1880. A Pennsylvania man, learning of her mechanical ability, had explained that existing burners were dangerous. It was so innovative that the Navy was able to convert from coal to oil for fuel. Unfortunately, there was never enough money to capitalize on the invention.

Eventually, Amanda turned her fruit jar patent into a profitable business. She founded the Woman's Canning and Preserving Company and only employed women. Although unmarried, Amanda did not consider herself a feminist. She merely wanted to give women the opportunity to earn their way with dignity, when widowed or unmarried without male protection. Women were the stockholders and held all executive positions. 

The company was a whopping success, receiving orders for 24,000 cases in the first three months. Greed took over, however, and the company president and stockholders wanted more. Jones hesitantly agreed with the president to accept a group of male investors into the company. They invested $80,000, and in return, the agreement went, they would manage the business and receive half the profits. Three months later, Amanda was forced out of the company, and the company went on to become a multimillion dollar industry.

Amanda has been listed in "Who’s Who in America" twice, once in 1912-1913, and second in the 1914-1915 women’s division of "Who’s Who in America."





Resources:
http://americacomesalive.com/2015/03/23/amanda-theodosia-jones-inventor-and-owner-of-all-woman-business/#.VTm5cvCUbYg
https://www.cpp.edu/~plin/inventors/jones_amanda_pennington_mary.html
http://www.fofweb.com/History/HistRefMain.asp?iPin=AHBio0294&SID=2&DatabaseName=American+Womens+History+Online&InputText=%22Amanda+Jones%22&SearchStyle=&dTitle=Jones%2C+Amanda&TabRecordType=Biography&BioCountPass=5&SubCountPass=0&DocCountPass=0&ImgCountPass=0&MapCountPass=0&FedCountPass=&MedCountPass=0&NewsCountPass=0&RecPosition=3&AmericanData=&WomenData=Set&AFHCData=&IndianData=&WorldData=&AncientData=&GovernmentData=
born inot book-loving family.


Copyright 2015 © Sharon Marie Himsl

25 comments:

  1. How awful Amanda was forced out of the company,
    Another great informative post,

    Enjoy your week-end.
    Yvonne.

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  2. Hi Sharon - Professor Cooley was an honourable man ... honestly men! Appalling .. but I loved reading this and how she started the business ... what a brilliant lady .. cheers Hilary

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  3. Wow, Amanda sounds like such a fascinating woman. What a shame that she was forced out of her own company...

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    Replies
    1. She wasn't very business saavy. But shame on those who took over.

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  4. Forced out! You'd think she would have seen that coming. Where were those voices then?

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  5. Well that just proves that she was right about only allowing women in doesn't it. I'm glad she is recognised at least.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    Replies
    1. I was just reading that there WERE two male employees. Professor Cooley and a janitor! (Will add to post)

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  6. My mother-in-law used to can her green beans. They were delicious but the whole thing looked like a LOT of work!

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    Replies
    1. It is a lot of work. I hesitate to ever do again.

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  7. I love those antique canning jars. I've been wanting to learn how to can fruits and vegetables for the longest time.

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    Replies
    1. I think they would make a nice kitchen display over my cupboards :) Maybe this summer you can try canning. It's fun the first time.

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  8. Fantastic post! I've been reading up about canning. I'm hoping to have a go at it in the autumn when we harvest our veg :)

    Fee | Wee White Hoose
    Scottish Mythology and Folklore A-Z

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    Replies
    1. Go for it! I think with modern equipment it may be easier now.

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  9. I find it curious how these women just saw a need and then improved on it or created something so new. I would be just baffled how to do this

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  10. Women have invented a lot of the simple, everyday things we need but take for granted. Pity about thus lady's lack of business savvy.

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    Replies
    1. Makes me wonder what other 'simple everyday thing' needs to be invented.

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  11. Good on Ms Jones and Prof Cooley ... eish, those men who forced her out of the business. Shame shame shame ... I wonder if THEY and their descendants know of the origins and whether they can make right in some way .. even tho 150 years later? Make scholarships available ... or some such ...

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  12. Who knew the spirits were so interested in Earthly matters! I watched Shark Tank last night and one of the entrepreneurs refused an offer for a 50% stake because she was worried about being taken over -pushed out. The investor liked the idea so much she dropped her offer to a 35% stake.

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  13. It's so great to learn about women entrepreneurs from days gone by, but isn't it just typical that a bunch of men took over her business and pushed her out. Still, what she did is admirable.

    www.passporttobrilliance.com
    www.creativecaravanclub.com

    ReplyDelete

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