Inventor Spotlight: Florence Parpart

This month, C4IP recognizes Florence Parpart, the stenographer and American inventor who patented the modern refrigerator and the street sweeper.

Much about Florence Parpart is a mystery, but her inventions have helped to change the daily lives of many across the globe. Born to a New Jersey family in 1873, Parpart was a stenographer for the Eastern Sanitary Street Cleaning Company.

Parpart received her first patent grant on June 7, 1904, for a modern improvement to the street sweeper. Her invention proved to be a large success, garnering nationwide attention within only a few years. The device was not only a huge time and labor saver, but also environmentally conscious. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the street sweeper “helps eliminate the number of plastics and litter that end up on the sides of roads and ends up harming local wildlife.”

Just ten years after this groundbreaking invention, Parpart received another breakthrough patent for the electric refrigerator. The modern refrigerator can be found in millions of homes across the globe — with almost 100% of U.S. households having at least one. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 U.S. households have not one but two refrigerators.

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